The Louvre: The good, bad and ugly

Today Anna and I stopped by Angelina, famous for its choc-chaud (hot chocolate) before venturing to the Louvre. We were dying to see what all the fuss was about—hot chocolate is hot chocolate, right? Unless it’s chocolate cake batter.  This drink is so thick that Anna vascillated between sipping it and drinking it with a spoon.  She drank half a cup, pronounced it delicious, then complained of a stomach ache.  Warning: do not go to the Louvre with a stomach ache.

Several years ago, my husband Ken and I toured the Louvre in twenty minutes. We were on our way to see the Mona Lisa, maneuvering our way into the museum’s interior amidst bus tour groups, when Ken started sweating and shaking and said, “I’ve never been claustrophic before but I need to get out of here. Now.” So our total time was twenty minutes from the time we entered to the time we stood outside the Pyramid.

Pyramid at The Louvre

Today, Anna and I made a similar plan. Museum-lovers may want to cover their eyes now because of what I’m going to write.  Neither of us wanted to visit the Louvre but we felt we had to.  We enjoyed modern art museums, plus we were looking forward to the D’orsay and Orangerie but we didn’t really care about all that madness of the Louvre.  However I felt I would be a bad mother if I didn’t at least take Anna to the Louvre-I could imagine her teachers asking her, “Did you visit the Louvre?” and their shocked expression when she said, “Non.”  She wanted to see one thing; the Mona Lisa. So we entered the museum with this mission in mind and set the timer.

The Mona Lisa

It was cloudy and overcast today, maybe in the 60s, but inside the Louvre it was a humid hothouse. On a 90 degree day the Louvre would be unbearable.  Plus, the crowds!  It is impossible to move more than a few feet at a time–there are so many thousands of people crammed into the hallways.  To get close enough to see a work of art, one must wait in line for a turn, so it’s possible to spend a lot of time waiting in each hallway.

We followed the signs to the Mona Lisa, we zig-zagged through the crowd, and there she was smiling at us from afar. Voila!  Anna was happy to see her and then said, “Let’s get out of here.” We rejoiced when we stepped outside into the fresh air and continued on our way. We walked through the Palais Royale, past the beautiful Place Victoire, Saint Eustache, and Chatelet Halles.  We stopped in a store that sells European design magazines and a clothing store that sold adorable eyelet skirts, then continued window shopping along the way back to our hotel. It was a splendid day. No doubt, the Louvre is full of treasures. But so are the streets of Paris.

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