My summer vacation: The Louvre Museum

Raymond Chen

My wife and I spent an afternoon at the Louvre Museum with another family. (We left the kids with a third family.)

You should preorder the timed-entry tickets to save yourself a very long wait in line. As at the Eiffel Tower, the people checking tickets were not sticklers about the time window.

The Mona Lisa had been temporarily relocated to the top floor due to renovations. The line to see the Mona Lisa extended from Level 2, down the stairs to Level 1, to the ground floor, to the lower ground floor, to the basement, then back out the entry gates into the lobby.

That’s right. You had to queue up to see the Mona Lisa even before you reached the turnstile and scanned your ticket.

My wife and I decided not to see the Mona Lisa. The other family, however, opted to go for it.

It turns out that the Louvre has a ton of art that isn’t the Mona Lisa. (Who knew?) We looked at other art works, and then decided to visit the Angelina’s inside the museum for some of their famous hot chocolate. On our way to Angelina’s we found our path blocked by a room with a staff member and a “no entry” sign. I asked the staff member how to get to the coffee shop. She explained that due to the relocation of the Mona Lisa, this particular room is part of the exit path for people who have finished looking at the famous painting.

She then asked, “Only two of you?”

I confirmed that there were only two of us.

She said, “Okay, I’ll let you through. Go down this hall, then take the first left. Go past the staircase, and it’s on your left.”

She added, “And, you know, you could just sneak into the Mona Lisa line if you wanted.”

I assured her that we wouldn’t.

“You are good people,” she replied.

We enjoyed our beverages and struck up a conversation with a woman at the table next to us. She was enjoying a drink and relaxing while her family stood in the Mona Lisa line.

As we finished up, her family arrived. She asked them, “Was it worth the wait?”

Their reply: “Totally not worth it.”

When we left the museum, the other family was still in line to see the Mona Lisa. Afterward, they sent us a text message. “Not worth it.”

Bonus chatter: The huge line to see the Mona Lisa does mean that if you are interested in decorative arts, you have the entire wing almost to yourself. It so happens that I’m interested in decorative arts.

In the decorative arts section, there was a platter that claimed to depict a naval battle. It looked like a jumble of shapes. But we stayed with it, and eventually the shapes turned into soldiers and swords, rendered with remarkable detail. It was like a Magic Eye moment where patience yields rewards. You can’t do that when you get 10 seconds to look at a painting.

Bonus bonus chatter: The Napoleon Apartments are also a great place to visit instead of standing in the Mona Lisa line.


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  • Peter DC 0

    This blog, totally worth it.

  • Maximilien Lincourt 0

    The Mona Lisa should be moved to a new museum outside of the Louvre.
    It should be in a new museum dedicated to it; something with a really cool architecture and with a conveyor belt so that people don’t spend time in front of it.
    A little bit like the Crown Jewels in London.

  • Danstur 0

    The Mona Lisa isn’t worth the normal lines either in my book. At least not for the novice.

    There are so much more interesting things in the Louvre like the codex of Hammurabi where there’s virtually nobody – certainly no queue.

  • Simon Mourier 0

    Note the genuine Angelina is not in the Louvre, but not far from it: but you will have to queue too. Next time you come, I’ll offer a personal unique custom tour of Paris for some inner details on how the Shell works 🙂

  • Mike Morrison 0

    I feel fortunate that, when my wife and I visited the Louvre years ago, there was no line to see the Mona Lisa. There was a crush of people around it, of course, and guards were hovering nearby, but we had only a short wait to get to the front of the crowd, maybe 5 minutes. It really is a beguiling and captivating work of art, especially for it’s size. It absolutely is worth it to see his painting in person if the line is not long. There’s something about it that does not come across in a photograph.

    We spent a whole day in the Louvre and saw a great many works of art. Aside from small-ish crowds around the Lisa and the Venus de Milo, we never stood in excessively long queues. We may have eaten at the same cafe as Raymond, though there weren’t any temporary constructions around it at the time. When you get away from the marquee works you can find yourself nearly alone with the art (aside from security and cameras, of course).

    I recommend the Paris museum pass for the Louvre, Versailles, and many other museums in the city. With it you get to skip most lines (if memory serves, it’s not accept at the Eiffel tower, but is accepted nearly everywhere else). Most lines are not to get into the museum but rather to buy tickets to get in; with the pass, you already have your ticket, so just walk up to the entrance, show the pass, and you’re in. You’ll get much more time to enjoy the museum; however, one day is not enough to see everything. Budget 2 days if you want to see it’s whole collection (or if the lines are excessive as described by Raymond).

  • smf 0

    The only time I would queue is at opening time, after that you’re just being punished for your lateness.

    I try to be pretty organised, so that I know when things are busy. I learnt from Disney World….

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