If you’ve been to the Louvre, what was your favorite piece of art? Did you wander through the massive gallery to find it, or did you plan every exhibit you were going to visit to a tee?
I for sure did not have any plans for how I wanted to explore the Louvre on my own, and unfortunately, we didn’t really get to either.
Today, we all met for class at the Louvre. You know, the one with the giant glass pyramid, where every person who studies abroad in Paris takes a picture in front of. We had a long day there, with some definite high points and some low ones too. After our time slot was up, we sat down to unwind in the Tuileries Garden, and then took a walk along the Seine river.
Navigating the Paris Metro
The walk from Le Marais district to the Louvre is a little over an hour, so I decided to go ahead and get my metro tickets. They’ve got a variety of different passes, but I found the cheapest option for my 3.5 days left in Paris to be the bundle where you get 10 single-use tickets for 16.90€. These worked well and lasted for the rest of my time there.
The Paris metro can be a bit tricky since everything is spoken/written in French, so I was glad to have my French-speaking friends there with me, but overall, it wasn’t much more difficult to navigate than the London tube.
The Louvre’s History
I feel as though no travel insta is complete without the iconic glass pyramid, I feel like I see it on every page! Surprisingly enough, this addition didn’t exist until the 80’s. So what makes the Louvre so internationally famous?
Well the Mona Lisa, of course, but the Louvre also prides itself on being the world’s first public art gallery. It wasn’t always that way, it was first a castle built by King Philip 2, then a royal residence, and when the family moved away, it was the monarchy’s private art gallery. After the French Revolution, however, it was decided that their wonderful collection should be open to the people 1793.
Whew! Sorry for the history lesson, but I do think it’s relevant considering that the gallery itself still looks like a palace with its wide staircases and fancy marble floors. And it’s MASSIVE.
Our Lesson at the Louvre
It seemed to take forever to get to the Medieval art room where our class was. On the way, we passed some really incredible sculptures, including the Winged Victory.
We got to a small room that housed the Medieval art, it’s mostly full of ivory carvings and golden/bronze pieces covered in gemstones. I wondered to my friend how there were any precious gems left in the world when there were so many in here.
After a couple of hours, our professor could tell that we were getting tired, so we all went to a little cafe situated right in the middle of the gallery called Angelina, which claims to make the best hot chocolate in Paris. Drinking it was an experience in itself, they serve you a teacup of hot cocoa and a shot glass of whipped cream. You’re supposed to stir the whipped cream into the chocolate to thicken it, and this makes it taste like molten, melted chocolate.
Though it’s a hefty claim for such a chocolate-centric city like Paris, I would agree that it’s the best I’ve ever had!
After returning to class, we broke off into groups, and I had to give an impromptu presentation on a pair of ivory tablets. It was fairly tricky considering all of the placards are in french, and I can only read a few words, but I think we did alright!
By the time all thirty of us had presented, we’d been standing for about 3 hours, and our time slot to be in the gallery had expired about half an hour ago. It was devastating to have to run out of the Louvre without seeing any paintings. Even though it’s about as cliche as it gets, I really want to see the Mona Lisa!
After our impromptu escape from the Louvre, we got sandwiches and plopped down in some chairs by a fountain in Tuileries Garden.
Perfectly located right outside the Louvre, the Tuileries Garden is an open green space with expertly manicured patches of bright flowers, complete with fountains, and lots of chairs to enjoy a sunny day like today.
Walking along the Quai by the Seine
After leaving the garden, we decided to take the scenic route along the Seine River as opposed to using a metro ticket. These streets by the water can be found easily, as most of them are labeled “__ Quai”, which translates to wharf. We started walking on the path at street level, but in some places, you can go down the steps to walk on the path right on the water. In some places, the sidewalks below street level had seemed a little scary and littered with trash, but here, there are lots of small shops and little playgrounds. It was a lively atmosphere, and definitely somewhere I’d love to hang out if I lived here!
Even though a random man on a bike took a picture of my friend and I just sitting around, it was a perfect day to be by the water, and I loved spending the afternoon here.
I promised myself when I first started this blog that I would be 100% honest with my travel journals, and that’s going to continue here.
The fact is, I was pretty bummed with our visit to the Louvre.
I had no idea how big of a place that is until we were running out because our ticketed time had run out, and it was disheartening to catch a glimpse of all the amazing art we were passing by as I rushed past it. Now, I recognize that I’m lucky to even be here in the first place, but I also know that I’m allowed to feel the way that I do.
Spending time outside at the Tuileries Garden and the Seine River definitely helped improve my mood and my day as a whole. We also had another really good dinner, where I learned just how good French wine is.
So there were definitely hits and misses today, but it ended happy and that’s all I can ask for. I am also very sleepy, so I’m going to end today’s entry now
Tomorrow, we’re going to a new city in France, Chartres to look at stained glass, and probably eat some more yummy food! Woohoo!