If you ever read my comments on Paris you will know that I'm a fan, even more an addict, of Le Louvre and also that I propose the entrance of the Porte des Lyons as the one without lines
"Avoiding the queues" .
On Thursday 29/03/2012 I wanted to visit again Le Louvre and went to the Porte des Lions to find it closed with a notice: "Exceptionnellement fermé ce jeudi 29/03"! I swore "Verdomme" in Flemish so that no Frenchman would understand and went to queue at the Pyramid entrance as I had not pre-booked a ticket.
Fortunately as it was still early (09.30 h) the queue was small. Inside I avoided the ticket corners with lines and went to a ticket machine. At the first the software didn't like me and blocked although I used the French instructions. I tried a second machine in English and that worked (the advantages of the Lingua Franca).
After that I entered wing Richelieu and found a hidden elevator that took me to my believed Flemish and Dutch painters on the second floor. I looked for the two Vermeer's "La Dentellière" and "l' Astronome" and couldn't find them. I asked a museum attendant who told me that the rooms with the Vermeer's are closed on Thursday! I swore a silent "Verdomme" and said "Merci … je n'ai pas de chance!"
It was time to eat something and I went down to the floor -1 Entresol where there are some cafeterias. But the Entresol was occupied by striking personnel from the cleaning teams; members of the left-left syndicate CGT were making a hell of a noise with whistles and trumpets with compressed air as used at football matches (see my video). Impossible to stay in that hall and to sit there to eat. For the third time I swore "verdomme" and took again the elevator to find a hidden corner (visitors are not allowed to eat or drink in the museum rooms) to eat the survival waffle (from Brussels' of course) I have always with me.
With distance I think that things could have been worse. Actually I was very lucky that the museum was not closed, that I was not robbed by a pickpocket, that there was no strike on the Metro or RER, no strike on the French Rail and Thalys and not even a strike or incident on the Belgian Rail (what is frequent).
This could be read to-day in the French newspaper "Le Figaro":
"Le musée n'a pas pu ouvrir ce mercredi. Les agents de la surveillance ont exercé leur droit de retrait pour manifester leur exaspération devant les bandes qui s'attaquent à eux autant qu'aux touristes. Les visites reprendront jeudi matin.
Agés de moins de 26 ans, ceux-ci s'introduisent dans les murs en profitant de la gratuité. Ils dévalisent sans faire les visiteurs (dix millions cette année) et molestent ou agressent les agents de surveillance."
The museum was unable to open Wednesday (10/04/2013)
Surveillance officers have exercised their right of withdrawal to express their frustration with bands of youngsters who attack them as much as tourists.
Aged less than 26 years, they enter the museum taking advantage of the free entry. They rob visitors (ten million this year) and molest or assault surveillance officers.
Visits resume Thursday morning (11/04/2013). There are now policemen in uniform present.
The paradox with this free entry for youngsters is that organized gangs of minors are robbing visitors, often seniors unable to defend themselves; seniors who have to pay the full ticket price!
When the police catch these youngsters they are immediately released by justice because they are minors. A few days later these pickpockets are again at work not only at Le Louvre or Orsay but even more at the Trocadero, at the Tour Eiffel and in the Metro.
Some French politicians are well aware that this criminality is a treat for tourism but zero tolerance is not a priority presently in France.
If you are visiting the Louvre soley to feast your eyes upon the Mona Lisa you may be sorely disapointed. Your view will be severly tainted by many people such as yourself wanting to catch their own glimpse.
Unique Suggestions Perhaps, early in the morning you may be able to avoid some people. You really have to see this amazing work of art but just dont be disapointed that your view is obstructed and you may be nudged a little in the process.
Fun Alternatives Make sure that apart from the lovely Lisa you also take in some of the other richness that is the Louvre. Pick what interests you the most and prepare to be completely absorbed!
The Louvre is probably the world's most famous museum and one of Paris's most visited tourits attractions, yet I have never really enjoyed my visits here. I think you'd need a few days to fully explore each wing, and I have never had the patience or love or art to do so. I found it repetitive, vast, and not half as interesting as expected.
Many people just visit to see La Joconde (Mona Lisa) which is as much a let down as anything else here (it also takes forever to find it).
Unique Suggestions Go on Sundays when it is free or on afternoons after 3pm when it's either free or half-price (can't remember which).
Fun Alternatives I much preferred Musee D'Orsay (see my must-see activities). Some of the smaller museums such as the Dali, or Picasso, are a better option.
Buy a ticket in advance - also, enter by the metro entrance to avoid the queues at the pyramid entrance.
Unique Suggestions Most people rush to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo - don't miss Napoleons' Apartments - they are spectacular.
Fun Alternatives Avoid weekends or the free day (1st Sunday in month) as these are very busy.
Of course, you've gotta do the Louvre. It's a world's best destination. But there are the lines of people waiting in the courtyard to enter through the Pyramid. Intimidating, to say the least.
Unique Suggestions But the Louvre can be enjoyed with remarkable ease and comfort. First off, arrive early and watch the people queueing from your seat in Cafe Marly. Enjoy your espresso and croissant while you marvel at the international breadth of the queue's population. Take your time. Give up your spectator perch only when you are ready to enter the Louvre, and then walk across the courtyard (waving at the queued folks) and aim for the Arch du Carroussel. At the base of the Arch is a staircase that leads to the mall under the Louvre's courtyard and provides direct access to the Louvre.
Fun Alternatives The Louvre is huge, and seeing it is sensory overload in the extreme. Musee d'Orsay is far more managable, and the works of the Impressionists (1875-1910) is more representative of the romance of Paris. Actually, there's no crime in avoiding museums altogether. I've happily left friends to these two museums while I hang out in the Tuilieries Garden watching kids and their sailboats, killer lawnbowling, reading and people-watching. I don't seem to have suffered for it.
Everyone who visits the Louvre generally wants to get a good look at the Mona Lisa by DaVinci - especially now with all the publicity of the book and the motion picture "Mona Lisa's Smile" and the "Da Vinci Code." When you go see it, there will be a HUGE crowd infront of it and you won't even be able to get very close because there's lots of glass over top of it and ropping around.
Unique Suggestions Not to say at all that its not worth going to; but just make sure to set aside 15-20 minutes just for that painting because it might be a while before you make your way to the front of a crowd where you're actually close enough to even see it. Also, if you take a picture, it probably won't turn out. I think the glass over the painting is there to make flashes, so people can't reproduce it in any way, I'm not sure. If you want a picture of it, take it from a side angle so you won't get the flash. That what we did - but you can see it still turned out incredibly blurry.
Fun Alternatives If you don't have the time or patience to see the Mona Lisa, the Louvre - not to mention Paris itself, is full of many other interesting artifacts.
To all of you who consider going to the Louvre to admire the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and have high expectations : make sure to bring your binoculars ! :-)
Not only is room 13 of the first floor packed with people who had the same idea, the painting is really much smaller than one might think and on top of that it is covered with some kind of plexiglass.
Fun Alternatives Try the second floor, you'll find paintings that are more cheerful and larger ! ;-)
Although there was big signs in all languages saying no photos,everyone was busy taking hundreeds of pictures of the woman and complately ignoring the other works of art.
Unique Suggestions If you go to Louvre at least see the other works of art too.
The Louvre is one of the most visited Museum in Europe. The majority of visitors gets in by the pyramide entrance. Because of security you often have to wait a long time. They control every one one by one. Sometime, it can take hours to get into the museum. Notice that it's only a security problem. When you are inside, there are many tickets distributors and you don't have to wait to get a ticket.
Unique Suggestions Take an umbrella in case of rain, and in summer take water.
Fun Alternatives To avoid the pyramide entrance queue, there are 2 solutions, one is the entrance near the Carrousel on the left of it when you have the pyramide in your back. The other is to get in passing by the metro. You must go on the line #1 platform and walk to one of the end of it where the indication is not Musée du Louvre but CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE. Then you will arrive in the commercial mail that leads to the museum.
The true identity of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has puzzled experts for years.
But a German now believes she was Countess Caterina Sforza from Italy. The countess is said to have been married three times, had 11 children and countless lovers.
According to Bild, Leverkusen-based Magdalena Soest says she was one of the best known courtesans of the Renaissance.
Ms Soest claims to have unearthed a second comtemporary picture by Italian artist Lorenzo di Credi to prove it.
She was 25 at the time and not as famous as when da Vinci apparently portrayed her in 1503 at the age of 40.
Well, avoid at all costs during the opening hours - at least if you're not that interested in the art. The building itself is gorgeous and at its best in the darker hours of the day. If there's one thing the French know how to do, it's illuminating their buildings and Louvre is no exception. In the evening the court yard etc has no tourists around even though it looks magnificent. So if you absolutely have to experience Louvre, I recommend this. The entire Louvre area is just plain gorgeous after dark, but all the tourists are at the Eiffel tower etc by then...