Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wouldn't it be Louvrely!

After my massive walkathon, I decided that I would take it easy and spend the day visiting museums and maybe even go back to Notre Dame cathedral. I took the metro line straight to the museum around 10am, and arrived to see a massive queue of people lined up to get into the museum through the pyramid - somewhere a sign said "waiting time approx 40 minutes", and knew that this was only the line to get in to the building, so you could then line up again to buy tickets to the actual museum.

I had other plans.

I had been told about a side entrance that very few people seem to know about, where you can just walk on in and avoid the pyramid queue altogether. I was told to look for 'the small arch with horses on it, and the gate's on the right'. This was great, only I couldn't see any small arches at all. Twenty minutes I wandered the grounds of the Louvre, looking for a small arch, when it dawned on me that perhaps I shouldn't be looking for a small arch attached to the Louvre, but a giant archway that had been right next to me the whole time. Feeling like a moron I found the side entrance with relative ease and navigated the labyrinth that is the entry to the museum - straight to the ticket queue.

After 30 minutes I got my ticket (as well as one to the Musee D'Orsay) and marched away to try and find the entrance, succeeding first in finding a row of ticket machines standing nearby without anybody queuing up to use them. Dumb.

Still knackered from my massive hike the day before, I made a beeline straight for the Mona Lisa, mainly by following the crowds and tour groups of Japanese Tourists, but also mainly by following the giant signs of "Mona Lisa this way!". I only got lost twice. Then I saw it - the Mona Lisa. From about 10 feet away.

It was rather difficult to see too much of the painting, as it was behind a thick pane of bullet proof glass, and there was also a barrier stopping people from getting too close. Also there were about 150 other tourists in there at a time, all holding their cameras up (of course using their flashes) which made a good look almost impossible as the flashes kept reflecting off the glass.

But I consoled myself with the fact that if I really wanted to see it could always get a perfectly good look at my room mate's coffee cup, which has a reprint of the Mona Lisa, anytime I wanted. So I left the room feeling like I had achieved nothing more than ticking a box, and did the same with the Venus Di Milo and Virgin on the Rocks.

After the Louvre (I stayed about two hours), I headed to the Musee D'Orsay, housed inside an old train station. This was by far the best museum I had been to, and for my money beat the Louvre - it had a nicer atmosphere, fewer people, and many more exhibitions from people who's name I recognised (Degas, Van Gogh, Rodin, Monet, and Manet).

Despite it being the better museum, I had still decided that I had seen enough antiquity for one day and hoofed it over to Notre Dame to catch a little gothic culture. It was pretty cool on the inside, but I have to admit to being ever so slightly disappointed. It's not that I was expecting to see a hunchback or anything like that, but I had been expecting to be blown away by the gothic architecture and such, and while it was definitely nice, it wasn't so different to many of the other cathedrals I had visited across Europe - certainly not different enough to make it remarkable, and if I were to be honest I preferred Sacre Cour.

Having now ticked many of the essential boxes of Paris, I headed back to my hostel to plan the next couple of days' activities, detouring via a fancy restaurant and enjoying a delicious meal.



  1. So .... what sort of fancy restaurant was it?

  2. Twas a fancy French Restaurant, which was a little touristy but fun.

    Well not so fancy, as in it didn't have any michelin stars or anything, but you know what I mean.

    Not McDonald's (again).