There are so many museums in Paris and we know that we would not be able to walk through them all, so we did some research last night and picked 3 of the ones that interested us most; Musee de Orangerie, Musee D’Orsay, and for obvious bucket list reasons, the Louvre. We bought our museum passes and decided to add a sunset cruise to that to end the day off.
We started the day off right with the biggest cup of coffee (I would grab one yourself, this was a long day) and a continental breakfast. We then head out to the local grocer to get a few things to snack on during the day as well as some lunch. The metro was in the opposite direction to the grocer but food is exceptionally expensive so I was not going anywhere without a decent lunch, some water, and a snack.
Water in hand, snacks and lunch stuffed into my handbag, we set off to the metro – Voltaire was the closest station to us. We took line 9 to République and then changed to line 8 for the Place de la Concorde. The Concorde was on our list of things to see yesterday but unfortunately we ran out of time so we moved it over to today. The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. During the French Revolution the square was where guillotine executions took place. Today there stands a 3000 year old Egyptian obelisk. We shot a few pictures of the Concorde, even though most of the square was cordoned off for the set-up of an event, before heading off to the first museum. (This is not the first thing that was blocked off from public entry on our trip).
Musee de Orangerie was our first and smallest stop. It is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, well know for it’s display of the Water Lilies by Monet. In all the research that we had done, we hadn’t come across any bag rules in museums and galleries, but there are rules and they are strict. No backpacks, camera bags, or the like are allowed in the gallery and they need to be handed in at the entrance. This wasn’t at all a problem until I was told that I was not allowed to leave any valuables in the bag either (phone, wallet, jewellery etc). So, I couldn’t take my handbag in with me and had to carry all the contents that would normally be in the bag designed for such purpose while I try and take in the magnificence of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings and artworks. Sounds completely logical to me… The gallery is the smaller of the 3 we visited today and it wasn’t long before we had seen all that we wanted to. We head for the exit, grabbed our bags from the lockers and head back outside to have some lunch. We ate our lunch on a park bench overlooking the Concorde square with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
After having a bite to eat we walked through the gardens to Musée d’Orsay. This museum is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900 and it is absolutely magnificent. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography, as well as works from the famous Dutch painted, Vincent von Gogh. Unfortunately, Starry Night was on loan to another museum in London but I managed to to see one of his many self portraits.
Our tickets for the Louvre were booked for 17:00 and we had some free time after visiting Musée d’Orsay. The banks of the River Seine are lined with green metal stalls that belong to the Bouquinistes of Paris. These booksellers of used antiquarian books are a must see if you are in Paris. Dil and I walked along the river bank and looked at what the Bouquinistes had on offer. You can get anything from antique books, newspaper articles, keyrings and miniature painting replicas.
We head to the Louvre at around 16:30 to work out where the entrance to the museum was. To be honest, we only knew of the entrance through the Pyramid and had know idea that you could enter the museum from the park across the road. The Louvre sells tickets in time batches and we arrived between the batch before ours and our own so the line was incredibly short. Seeing that, we were not too worried about actually getting into the museum so we went and sat on the grass in the Jardin des Tuileries until 17:00.
In the space of time between us walking away from the entrance, enjoying watching an art class in the garden, and heading back to the Pyramid entrance of the museum, a crowd of people has gathered in the centre of the court. They were all shouting and waving papers in the air so naturally Dillon and I avoided that and walked towards the back of the line. The line snacked all the way to the road. Knowing that we had made the effort to pre-buy our tickets we weren’t too worried because we thought we could skip the queue but the problem was that we didn’t actually know who to inform that we had pre-bought tickets.
Dillon asked a few security guards to find out where we needed to be to get into the Louvre, and after asking about 4 people it became clear to us that the paper-waving crowd were actually pre-bought ticket holders. I was horrified at the poor organisation of queues to get into the Louvre. Dillon and I had to push and shove through a chaotic crowd of people to actually get through to the pre-bought ticket holder’s line. Once there it was a breeze getting into the museum.
Still frantic from the chaos outside, we entered the busy museum on an escalator that took us straight down into the reception area (which is huge by the way). To avoid any more crowds we started in the Richelieu Wing and saw the Grecian sculptures in the Cour Marly and Cour Puget, the apartments of Napoléon III, and other decorative arts.
When the Richelieu Wing started closing, we decided to head across the museum to the Denon Wing to tick the Mona Lisa off of our bucket list. Now, I thought that the crowds outside were chaos, they were nothing compared to what was in the room the held the Mona Lisa. Oh no… outside was a walk in the bloody park. There were people everywhere, cameras blocking views, everyone was talking, and the room is designed to funnel everyone through a small exit. Even though the room was unpleasant to be in, I am super happy that we got to see the Mona Lisa. And I will say this, she is a lot smaller in person than you would think. We continued through the Denon Wing until the museum closure. We saw Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Antiquities and the Winged Victory of Samothrace before it was time to leave the wing and have some dinner.
When it comes to well-known landmarks and places it is easy to describe your experience and what you saw while you were there but museums are different. They are something that needs to be experienced to be understood and no matter how I describe what I saw and how I felt, everyone’s experience in a museum, and of a museum, is different. All I can say is that if you are planning on visiting any museum, research it well and make sure that it is artefacts, antiques and art that you are interested in so that you get the most out of your museum experience.
We had dinner in the Carrousel du Louvre before getting onto the Metro and heading to the Eiffel Tower. Line 1 runs from the Louvre and we took it to Charles de Gaulle-Étoile where we changed to line 6 in the direction of Passy Metro Station. We walked from Passy Metro station over the Pont de Bir-Hakeim to the port for our Sun Set Cruise. The cruise boat travelled along the Seine to the Pont de Sully before turning around and heading back to the original port. We head back to our hotel after the cruise and finally lay our heads down and put our feet up at 23:00.