Monday, October 11, 2010

taking on the louvre

visiting the louvre is a must, and is probably on every traveler's list. while i certainly did not want to pass up the opportunity to see a fraction of the 35,000 things in its collection, i have to admit that i actually was not completely looking forward to my visit.

for one thing, the musee du louvre is HUGE. it occupies over 60,000 square meters of space. because of this, i took the advice of the well-traveled and told myself that i should not even attempt to take in all the masterpieces in its walls. another thing was that i have read very little about this museum (being too caught up with the orsay), so i didn't know what to expect, or who to expect (save for the mona lisa and venus de milo).

no line had formed yet when we arrived by metro. as it turns out, there's an exit in the metro that takes you to the carrousel du louvre, a shopping space under the museum's famous pyramid. here, another entrance to the museum can be found, with much less people than by the main entrance.

since the museum was not opening its doors until 10am (that's later than usual because there was an event they had to take care of), susie and i decided to explore the area right outside the museum. we ended up walking to the jardin de tuileries, where we were able to sit by the fountain and watch the other people in the park. the weather, however, decided to turn chilly, so we headed back to the carrousel du louvre entrance.

under the pyramids.
another entrance to the museum by the carrousel du louvre

i was shocked to find that an incredibly long line had already materialized in the few minutes that we were gone. so we quickly fell in line, and after a few minutes, the "gates" opened. this line was just to enter the cour carrée, a square that contains information booths, ticket booths, and the cloak room. good thing we already had our museum pass, so we didn't need to line up again for tickets. we decided to pass on the audio guides, so we just got a map of the museum, and dove headfirst into the throng of masterpieces.

we saw venus de milo, ramses II, winged victory. then came the paintings. i saw the card sharper by georges de la tour, a self-portrait of albrecht durer, une odalisque (la grande odalisque) by jean-auguste-dominique ingres, who became an instant favorite. my head was starting to spin with all the colors, the figures, the symbols. i may sound like an ingrate to you, but i didn't want any of these paintings to be forgotten, to be erased in my head. they were all beautiful, all important, and i wanted to allot precious brain GBs in my head for them. but thank god photography was allowed, and i can look at them so i can keep remembering.

in the middle of our visit, an alarm started to go off. "haha, somebody must have touched a painting or something," susie said. then the alarm was followed by an announcement in french, spanish, and then english, of which we only caught "please leave the premises immediately." i looked around and saw that nobody was following these instructions, so i thought i should do the same. susie insisted we go out and see what happened, since there were terror threats at the time.

i was very resistant and reluctant to do that, because we had come so far into the museum, and i really didn't want to go back to the cour carrée, then pick up where we left off if things were fine. it's idiotic, i know, but that's how enormous this museum was. i was tired and hungry, and i wanted to just cover the other things we wanted to see and leave. but susie kept insisting, and it was the logical and safe thing to do, so we looked for the exit.

where can i get a massage around here?

when we finally reached the exit, the museum guards were just hanging out and talking like nothing happened, while the alarm was still going off inside. we asked them what the matter was. the response? something along the lines of "oh, nothing. false alarm. if we want you out, we'll get you out." i counted to ten, and walked back into the labyrinth.

after that, all the other things in the museum became a blur. all i was after was to see the mona lisa. we had entered one of the galleries, and saw a line of people trying to muscle their way into another gallery. and that's when i knew that i was only seconds away from meeting her. my exhaustion melted, my hunger vanished. i went straight for the crowd and used the singit skills that i've acquired through years of taking the MRT. in no time, i was near the front, elbowing my way to a wall covered with glass, to protect the precious little frame inside it.

my right hand lowered the camera. all around me, people were scrambling to get the perfect photo, but i couldn't take a snapshot--i was just staring. some people told me that when they saw her, they said, "that's it?!" because she was so tiny. but the words in my heard were, "THIS. IS. IT." it sounds too dramatic, but i nearly cried. for a friggin' painting. but being face to face with something so important was so incredibly overwhelming that i froze. i managed to get ahold of myself, and eventually snapped a photo, but i think that moment will stay with me for a while.

the superstar of the louvre.
the crowd trying to get closer to la gioconda

before that moment, i was being so cranky, i was being an ungrateful bruha because the louvre was exhausting the hell out of me. but when i got to that moment, and looking back at what i've seen, i would do it again, but next time, i will slap myself silly if i ever feel like complaining. because the things you see in the louvre are worth all the effin' trouble. the expensive admission fee, the long wait in the even longer line, the crowds, the indecipherable french descriptions, the starvation--they all seem so inconsequential when you think about what you take away from the louvre.

more photos of my visit to the louvre here.

museum information
musee du louvre
address: 75001 paris, france
opening hours: 9am-6pm (monday, thursday, saturday, sunday), 9am-10pm (wednesday & friday), closed on tuesdays
admission fee: EUR 10
metro: palais royal-musee du louvre
buses: 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95, or the paris tourist bus
batobus: louvre stop

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i am a subscriber to your blog and i read your post on the Louvre, and i became sentimental about our recent trip ... i pray that we will be given another gift of travel to return to europe and be able to have more time and provision to see the countries we went to in a more relaxed and easy pace. my husband and i were mostly on our own, rode the trains and had a great time together ... but i hope that we can visit the countrysides and be one with the locals.

thank you for your post on the musee de louvre, i vividly remember seeing the two "infamous dames" flocked by tourists, including us ... i enjoy reading your posts, thanks :)