Look, I don't even know how you can review a place like The Louvre. It's kind of like Waffle House: we're all born into the world knowing what it is - no one ever really explains what it is to us but somehow we know at some point, we need to go there to see the sights and people watch. And yes, I am firmly aware that I am probably the only person in history to compare The Louvre to a Waffle House. You're experiencing history just by reading this review!
You walk up to the sprawling museum in a vast expanse of periodic feaux-stone posts that people stand upon to pose for pictures that are going to look mighty confusing when taken out of context. As you get closer, you'll notice you're walking toward an enormous glass pyramid, with lines of people jutting out this way and that. We already had our tickets ahead of time (something I cannot recommend enough), so we were ushered into the somewhat shorter line by a polite guide near the entrance. We weren't outside long, which was a godsend as the rain was coming down and the lines were only getting longer. When we stepped inside, however, we realized we had not seen anything yet resembling what we perceived as a "crowd."
Take the most populous sporting event you've ever been to. Then pretend your favorite theme park is having a parade right outside and more people are rushing to join the crowd. And just for good measure, imagine Bill Gates is giving away free money for kicks and more people are swarming to be a part of the gala. This represents about 1/10 of the amount of people you will see during your time at The Louvre. You'll descend via an escalator/elevator and on the way down, you'll be able to take in literally tens of thousands of people bustling this way and that, trying to find their dedicated "Welcome" kiosk in their native tongue - and they're there somewhere: The Louvre is nothing if not accommodating for all visitors, regardless of their language spoken. If you in any way get anxious in the midst of crowds, just look at someone's vacation pictures of The Louvre because you may go nuts here.
We got our maps and were ready for the journey, a trek through a glamorous display of centuries of paintings, sculptures and even some modern works of light (hard to explain, but you'll know when you see them and they literally are the only neon things in the whole building - I think they were right outside an Egyptian exhibit, though by the time you read this, they may have been allocated to the gift shop). Anyone who is anyone is going to make a beeline for two things: the "Mona Lisa" and the "Venus de Milo." It's like a right of passage, you know? You come here, you have to see those two things. So we embarked on a pilgrimage to see Mona, as her close friends call her.
The thing is, when you look at the provided map, you really have no appreciation for how to best navigate the corridors of this palace considering how packed it is with people, strollers, feral children, tour groups, photography majors and people like me who cannot tell if the map is upside down, or not. You would think that Mona is hanging out (no pun intended) at the end of an expansive passageway, the climactic piece rewarding all who brave the dangerous voyage to see her. Not at all - she's off to the right in a room with other works no one else notices and half the population of California. Ushers will bus people past Mona after a finite time but you will wait a good while to get close enough for a picture. Yeah, you can see her from a distance, roped off behind a partition of velvet chord and housed behind something like three feet of bullet-proof glass, but to get up close and personal, you need to wait in a crowd unlike any you've ever seen.
Now would be a good time to mention pickpocketing, since it happens. Simply put, keep your hands on your belongings and your wallet in your front pocket. Sticky fingers run rampant and we even witnessed a couple being escorted out by security for either grabbing things that were not theirs or for crimes against fashion - no one needs snakeskin pants who is not named Rob Halford.
Anyway, after Mona, you can see some incredible works, including "The Raft of the Medusa," for all you Pogues fans (like me). But the next stop is, of course, Ms. Venus. Oddly enough, the amount of people around her was slim, though this might be because she is in a much smaller room. You can view her from all sides, get pictures, marvel at other guests taking photos- and actually, this is a perfect segue-way into a great activity to perform while here. If you find something no one else is looking at, get someone in your group to take a picture of you with it. I guarantee, you will have other visitors flocking to it because clearly if someone is taking a photo of it, it must be important. I did this with a statue of a dude who looked like he was taking a picture of himself and I attracted six people over to me. People watching, even in monumental displays of artwork, never gets old.
Speaking of not getting old, you would be hard-pressed to get tired of the Louvre. Yes, it is a mentally and physically exhausting collection of art. Yes, the crowds are stifling, as are the people who do not believe in deodorant. And yes, it is horrendously easy to get lost here - just keep heading toward the central room you came in at and eventually daylight will greet you. But for a place that rewards visitors with about 270 times what they put in, you cannot go wrong.
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