The Louvre – A few tips on how to visit the museum

Louvre Pyramid

It’s Bastille Day in France and the entrance to the Louvre is exceptionally free to celebrate. Today also marks the reopening of the Islamic Art gallery after this spring’s floods. The Louvre is the subject of popular posts on my blog: the Napoleon III rooms and the Ancient Egypt mummies still figure among my most-read posts years after I wrote them. So I thought I’d round up a few pieces of advice for your next visit.

Louvre Victoire de Samothrace

Is the Louvre the right museum for you? Make sure the kind of art you want to see can indeed be viewed at the Louvre. Its collections cover art until 1848. If your thing is Impressionism, head to Musée d’Orsay (which I much prefer, by the way). Likewise, if you like Modern art only, you will need to explore other options.

Watch out for free entrance days. If you can, visit on one of the 1st Sundays of the month when the entrance is free (October to March). Otherwise, tickets are at 15€.

Arrive early in the morning. I waited about 30 minutes before entering, which is reasonable. When I glimpsed outside later in the day, I saw the lines had extended far beyond what I had expected.

Louvre Baigneuse Valpincon IngresLouvre Lady in BlueLouvre Girl in pink

Prepare your itinerary and target only a few galleries to visit. The Louvre is HUGE and you won’t be able to see it all within 1 day. (You probably gathered from the pictures above that I am a 19th-century fangirl.)

Wear comfortable shoes. See above: the Louvre is huge and you will be walking for hours.

Louvre Joconde Mona Lisa

Be prepared to fight your way to see Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is no doubt a masterpiece, but do not expect a life-changing experience when viewing it. The painting is kept under a glass case. Visitors are kept at a distance with a cord. Dozens of people try to catch a decent glimpse, picture or selfie while security guards loudly chat about what they did the night before. In short, there is no way you can truly appreciate the painting in these conditions.

 

Louvre AngelinaLouvre Angelina cakes

Lunch! I enjoyed lunch at Angelina. Their restaurant is within the museum, a short walk from Napoléon III’s apartments. Yes, it is a bit pricey but it has a view on the Pyramid. And if your entrance to the Louvre was free, well, I believe that you can treat yourself to balance things out. Otherwise, there are lunch options underneath the Pyramid but they were less attractive. The choice was limited to a windowless cafeteria or a Paul with very few seats.

View from Louvre on Pyramid

Look out for stunning views of Paris. Don’t just look at the art.

Louvre Objets d'art 1Louvre Objets d'art 2

If you do not have the time to visit Versailles, visit the Department of Decorative Arts. The rooms hold collections similar to what you would see in the palace outside Paris. While beautiful, it does not have the same emotional dimension as if you where really in Versailles though.

Louvre Pavillon de l'Horloge

Check out the history of the Louvre. While you may not choose to visit the newly-organized Pavillon de l’Horloge, where you can learn all about the history of the palace, it would be a shame not to look it up. The Louvre was the home of the Kings of France up until Louis XIV lived in Versailles. You can still see the medieval part of the building, which is quite impressive.

Louvre Flamands

Enjoy your visit! If you have other advice on how to best visit the Louvre, I would love to hear about it.

Andy Warhol Elizabeth Taylor

SFMOMA’s American Icons at the Grand Palais

Andy Warhol Elizabeth Taylor

Ce weekend j’ai visité l’exposition Icônes Américaines au Grand Palais. J’y allais plus par simple curiosité – et pour amortir ma Carte Sésame – que par amour de l’art moderne. Moi qui pourrais passer une journée au Musée d’Orsay, j’avoue être peu sensible à ce courant. Impression confirmée à la vue des premiers tableaux – des bandes arc-en-ciel et un cœur à l’envers – et qui se poursuit au fil des salles. Cette vilaine phrase me revient en tête (« Pfff, moi aussi je serais capable de faire ça. ») Et pourtant, en faisant le tour une seconde fois pour les photos et en lisant le guide bien pédagogique, je me surprends à davantage apprécier les œuvres. Le moderne, un art dont l’appréciation se mérite ? Disons qu’il n’est pas forcément évident tant qu’on ne connaît pas les intentions de l’auteur.

Jusqu’au 22 juin, le Grand Palais accueille les œuvres les plus emblématiques du San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, actuellement en rénovation, et de la collection Fisher. (Les Fisher étant nuls autres que les fondateurs de la marque Gap ! Quand on sait dans quelles conditions sont fabriqués ces vêtements…) L’exposition met en scène le travail des artistes suivants : Carl Andre, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Dan Flavin, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly et Andy Warhol.

Ellsworth Kelly SFMOMA 1

This weekend I saw the exhibition American Icons at the Grand Palais. I went there more out of curiosity than out of love for modern art, and I have to confess I was not impressed by the paintings at first sight. A second round to take pictures and reading the detailed guide convinced me otherwise. Let’s say it’s hard to appreciate this form of art when you are not aware of the artist’s intentions. The exhibition running through June 22nd shows iconic works from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art which is currently undergoing renovation. The featured artists are Carl Andre, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Dan Flavin, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol.

Ellsworth Kelly SFMOMA 2

Ellsworth Kelly

Philip Guston SFMOMA 1 Philip Guston SFMOMA 2 Richard Diebenkorn SFMOMA Donald Judd SFMOMA 1 Donald Judd SFMOMA 2 Donald Judd SFMOMA 3

Donald Judd, Untitled. Notice how the two columns create different impressions even though they are alike in form. The copper one seems light and fluid while the one in steel looks compact and heavy.

Roy Lichtentstein SFMOMA

Roy Lichtentstein. You can read my post about his exhibition at Centre Pompidou here.

Andy Warhol SFMOMA

Andy Warhol’s portraits of two American icons

Dan Flavin SFMOMA

Dan Flavin

Brice Marden SFMOMA My favorite painting of the exhibition by Brice Marden