Europe tour day 14: Paris – Touring the Louvre

We woke up bright and early, excited for today’s planned activities. We’re going to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa! When my parents asked me how long we were going to be there, I said, 6 hours! They didn’t complain. ūüėČ

We took the bus just¬†outside our street, and while there, an elderly French woman stood beside me and started complaining to me about the delayed bus, and she spoke to me in French! I was so thrilled that she mistook me for a local and that she was satisfied¬†with my French too. It turned out there was an accident and the bus couldn’t pass by our street so we had to go to the next bus stop, which was just on the other street. And I knew because I asked another bystander — in French — and she responded in French too, and my frantic mind tried to make sense of what she was saying.

We finally got on the bus, got off, crossed the road towards the next bus stop and we were on our way to the Louvre. My parents were worried that I was again leading them astray; I was just thankful that my researching the bus routes and all my years of studying French paid off.

Early morning at the Louvre

Thanks to our Paris City Pass, we were able to skip the line and we were inside the Louvre quickly. Since it was early morning, the line wasn’t that long, although there was already a queue going inside the hall where the Mona Lisa is displayed.

I quickly led my family through several hallways, stopping once in a while to take pictures of beautiful art because I couldn’t believe my eyes that these sculptures or paintings I only studied (we had an art¬†class in college) or read about are actually right before my eyes. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I wanted to see the art with my own eyes instead of thru a camera lens. There’s something to be said about experiencing culture organically instead of losing myself in taking pictures and forgetting to enjoy the moment.

A gallery of beauties at the Louvre
A gallery of beauties at the Louvre
Amazing expressive sculpture at the Louvre
Amazing expressive sculpture at the Louvre

My parents were getting impatient because they wanted to view the other artwork, but I’ve read that the hall to see the Mona Lisa can get really crowded, so I insisted that we had to hurry. But one particular sculpture made me stop in my tracks because holy guacamole, I never thought I’d actually see it in person.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre

I knew what it was as soon as I saw it. The Winged Victory of Samothrace have been discussed in our classes repeatedly, but I was unprepared for the overwhelming feeling of seeing something so old right in front of me. According to the Louvre, this was 220-185 BC. Before Christ! Amazing! This is believed to have stood on the prow of a ship. The outstretched wings, beautifully sculpted folds, and life-like creases took my breath away.

Then it was time to see the Mona Lisa. Despite the early hour, the room was filled with a lot of people, craning their necks over everyone’s smartphones. I was able to make my way up to the front and stared at the beautiful painting. Did you know that the Mona Lisa is actually priceless? Its value is so high that they cannot determine the amount. How’s that for legacy goals, eh? Leonardo da Vinci, I absolutely salute you.

The Mona Lisa at the Louvre

My sister was like…”what’s the big deal?” I know not everyone sees the appeal in the¬†Mona Lisa¬†but I felt her magic. There was just something there lurking beneath the surface. She looked calm as can be, then again she’s probably had centuries to get used to being the most photographed woman in the world hehe! But I looked at it and I knew it was a masterpiece. It was just¬†there. The¬†Mona Lisa¬†is heavily protected because, for some reason, there are people who keep trying to ruin it. I’m glad it’s being kept safe because it’s too beautiful and should be shared with the world and not destroyed or kept for private collections.

Saint Michael Vanquishing Satan by Rapha√ęl

Some other notable paintings I’ve seen are¬†artworks by Rapha√ęl like¬†La Belle Jardini√®re /¬†The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist (oil, 1507); Le Grand Saint Michel /¬†St. Michael Vanquishing Satan¬†(oil on wood transferred to canvas, 1518); and La Grande Sainte Famille (1518).

We also saw the exhibit of Marie Antoinette’s things. I’m highly fascinated by the late queen since I read about her in the encyclopedia when I was in my early teens. I was so surprised by her opulent lifestyle in the face of her people going hungry.

I especially loved the sculptures because I rarely see such beautiful renderings. I marveled at how well the sculptors made their statues and how some of them even seemed so alive and vibrant. I mean, how can you take a chunk of marble and chip away at it day by day until your vision comes alive? And the folds of their dresses look so gracefully draped over them.

Hermpaphrodite endormi / Sleeping Hermaphroditos (year unknown)
Hermaphrodite endormi / Sleeping Hermaphroditos (year unknown)

One sculpture I particularly loved is¬†Hermaphrodite endormi /¬†Sleeping Hermaphroditos¬†(year unknown) which lies on top of a mattress (c. 1620) sculpted by no other than Bernini. I actually took a picture of this because I was impressed with the realistic rendering of the buttock and how imperfect it seemed and yet how human. The garment, draped artfully and yet so casually, around the legs made me feel like someone actually posed for this. And the mattress and pillows made me want to touch it (I didn’t!) because it looked so soft. The creases on the pillows are so realistic, making the marble slab look as soft as down goose feather. This was one of my favorite statues at the Louvre.

We had now been at the Louvre for four hours and we had almost forgotten to eat¬†when we saw the cafeteria. The food is a little pricey but since we were going to be there for two more hours (I mean, the Louvre is huge, even our 6 hours weren’t enough to take it all in), we just went ahead and ate. I think our meal cost us 10 euros each. Pricey, like I said.

Our energy somewhat renewed, we entered another gallery and then saw the Venus de Milo!

Venus the Milo (120 BC)

I wasn’t expecting this sculpture at all. This statue is thought to depict Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

At this point, my sister and I were just getting lost around the Louvre, so we just kept walking, knowing we’ll reach the entrance again eventually. Our parents had toured the Louvre on their own after we saw the¬†Mona Lisa because they said I was tiring them out haha!

Ancient walls of the Louvre

Then my sister and I suddenly found ourselves in the underground exhibit of the ancient walls of the Louvre. The Louvre actually used to be a palace that’s why it looks so grand. It is an actual ch√Ęteau-turned-museum. I shivered just a little, being surrounded by so much history right on the walls.

And then we had a taste of Egypt when we saw the Grand Sphinx, which came from Tanis, Egypt. It has several inscriptions of the names of pharaohs but the exact date when this was created is not determined. However, it is certainly thousands of years BC!

The Grand Sphinx at the Louvre

I never thought I’d see¬†a sphinx outside of Egypt! Obviously, I need to travel and visit more museums around the world (yes, please).

Lastly, we passed thru the gallery of Michelangelo’s sculptures, where we saw his famous Slaves sculptures. Seeing his sculptures up close made me nod and go, “Oh, he’s definitely one of the masters”.

We emerged from the Louvre and found ourselves somewhere I couldn’t determine. We just decided to walk and walk since Paris was definitely a city best enjoyed on foot, but this post is so lengthy already and our next destination deserves a post on its own!

Visiting the Louvre tips:

  • Come to the Louvre as early as possible and allow¬†plenty of time to go thru all the exhibits!
  • The Mona Lisa is the busiest exhibit so make sure to visit their first.
  • Since you’ll be walking around for hours, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and best to carry a light bag that is very secure and can be locked.
  • Please don’t use flash when taking pictures!
  • Don’t touch the artwork. Oils and dirt from our hands can cause them to deteriorate faster.
  • If you’re visiting several museums or attractions in the city, do purchase a pass with skip-the-line privileges. It will save you a lot of time!
  • If traveling by train, don’t throw away your tickets. They sometimes inspect the tickets when you disembark and you can be fined if you are found to not have a ticket.

Please don’t grab my images and use them without permission. All photos are unedited except for the watermark I’ve placed.

Read about my Eurotrip!

Rome day 1-2
Rome day 3
Florence days 4-5
Pisa day 5
Venice day 6
Austria day 7
Munich days 8-9
Z√ľrich days 10-11
Geneva day 12
Paris day 13
Paris day 14 – Seine River Cruise
Paris day 14 ‚Äď The Eiffel Tower
Paris day 15 – Touring Paris
Paris day 16 – Last day in Paris & hop on-hop off tour


Other links you might find helpful:

Getting ready for Europe  |  Preparing your Schengen visa requirements  |  Booking your hotel and plane fare  |  Filling out the Schengen visa form  |  How to apply to the Italian embassy thru Via  |  Cross-country train travel in Europe

3 Replies to “Europe tour day 14: Paris – Touring the Louvre”

  1. I also like the Hermaphrodite endormi, but I appreciated it more after reading your thoughts on it. ūüôā

    1. Awww thank you, that’s so sweet. <3

  2. […] days 4-5 Pisa day¬†5 Austria day¬†7 Munich days 8-9 Z√ľrich days 10-11 Geneva¬†day 12 Paris day 13 Paris day 14 ‚Äď Touring the Louvre Paris day 14 ‚Äď Seine River Cruise Paris day 14 ‚Äď The Eiffel Tower Paris day 15 ‚Äď Touring Paris […]

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