5 Things You Learn When You Explore the Entirety of Paris’ Louvre Museum

After being home from Paris for a little over a month, I’ve obviously been thinking about that marvelous city for a majority of my free time. I’m missing it more and more each day so I’ve decided that it’s finally time to now start posting my tips, useful facts and just favorite things about the city for others who might be traveling there soon, who might want to go one day or those who might just have a general inkling to know more about my time over there.

While living there, I compiled a list of tips and useful things I feel that people will be able benefit from that are drawn from my own experiences and adventures over there. One of my tip lists I want to share with the world is what happens when you take five days of your life to explore every inch and secret room within Paris’ famed Louvre museum. Exploring the whole Louvre was one of my top Paris Bucket List items and I accomplished it the week before leaving the city. I hope that my experience within the museum can help out anyone else wanting to explore it.. So without further ado, here we go!

1. No matter what you’ve heard about the gigantic size of the Louvre, it’s bigger than you ever could have imagined.

Standing outside the enormous palace, the size is intimidating. You’re thinking to yourself, “There’s no way I’ll ever actually see this whole thing.” You’re scared to even walk in, knowing how overwhelmed you’ll become within seconds. Yet, knowing all of this, you slowly descend the steps into the “secret” entrance of the Louvre. Immediately, the crowds overcome you and you’re lost within a sea of tourists, unable to even move. As they all shuffle through the short line into the underground entrance, you push past and finally break free of the camera flashes and jumbled combination of four different languages being screeched around you. You’re finally in. You’ve come through the carousel entrance, you’ve shoved past the crowds and you’ve finally made it inside the Louvre. You stand gazing at the three different museum entrance choices before you: Richelieu, Denon and Sully. Without thinking, you choose one and venture up the escalator inside. Map in hand, you clutch it tighter than your purse, knowing that this little paper map is your lifeline to the fantastical history that lies in waiting for you to discover. Slowly, you calm down knowing that you’ve made it inside and that you’re now exploring one of the largest collections of history in the world. You ease into yourself and get lost within the beauty that is the Louvre. Though it’s massive, each room is full of something new and the little map you’re clutching saves you from terror. After about two hours of exploring, you’ve finally conquered the first of three sections in the museum. You feel accomplished and ready to do anything. You know you’re a master Louvre patron already. One section down, two more to go! ..four days later, you’ve done it all. You’ve seen all three sections. You’ve battled thousands of tourists. You’ve won. You’ve seen the entire Louvre after five days of exploration. And it was glorious. The size was no match for your passion of art and you leave for the last time feeling a lightness and renewed passion for life. You have seen the entirety of Paris’ Louvre museum.

This is what I went through each day I dared to go back and see more. It took me five days, but by jove, I did it! 

   
2. Napoleon was a bigger jerk than the world leads you to believe.

You all know Napoleon, right? The guy who tried to conquer the world and actually did conquer many parts of Europe? Well anyway, at one point in history, Napoleon lived within the Louvre and his apartments within the palace are still present and perfectly preserved today. You can explore the entirety of them within the Richelieu section of the Louvre and they’re magnificent. Plush oversized furniture covers the floor below an enormous, elaborate diamond chandelier that hovers above the main living room; extravagant bedrooms flowing with diamonds and decorated with uncomfortable, yet gorgeous furniture. I’m telling you, this part of the Louvre will blow your mind. It’s phenomenally overdone and elaborate in ways that I never could have imagined possible in real life. It was extraordinary. But obviously, Napoleon was more full of himself than anyone could have imagined.. Or at least than I could have imagined. 

 3. The Egyptian section is one of immense magnitude and indescribable history.

Oh, the Egyptian section! Gah, it was marvelous. I’m so excited right now even just thinking about it again and writing about it. Okay, so I have to start off with telling you that all my life, I’ve wanted to visit Egypt. When I was in 6th grade, I did a school project on Nefertiti.. I regularly watched The Mummy movies.. To say I was obsessed with Egyptian culture and history is probably an understatement. So, getting to see a full collection of Egypt’s ancient history was of great excitement for me. This section houses many, many sarcophagus’ and ancient tablets depicting everything from royal day-to-day activities to farm life. The Louvre even holds the sarcophagus of Rameses III, pharaoh of Egypt from 1186 – 1155 BC.  The inscriptions on each tablet were mesmerizing and the sarcophagus’ were marvelous.. But none of it compared to the fact that I saw a real life mummy. WHAT! Yes, a real life mummy in a glass case on display for everyone to see. It was indisputably the most amazing thing in the Louvre for me. Complete with jars on the sides full of the organs from the deceased (just like I learned about from the Mummy movies!), the mummy was truly humbling for me. 

I can’t quite describe why I have such a fascination with ancient Egypt (it could have something to do with adventure – because I’d go ahead and be so bold as to say that I have a bit of a passion for it) but I can tell you that 6th-grade-Nefertiti-project-wielding Megan would have cried her eyes out and fainted at knowing that present day Megan had the privilege of viewing a real life actual ancient mummy in Paris. Man, sometimes I just have to re-read sentences like that that I type out and breathe, still unable to comprehend some of the things I’ve been blessed to do in my life. 6th grade Megan certainly never would have guessed I’d do most of the things I’ve been able to do thus far in my life.

4. “Dead ends” due to construction or other mishaps are not definite; there’s always a secret way to get to the section you need to see.

During the five days it took me to explore the Louvre, I was turned away from multiple sections due to construction closings on staircases and hallways, yet wasn’t deterred. I was on a mission that I needed to accomplish and I wasn’t going to let a little hallway construction stop me from doing what I needed to do. Again, handy little paper map in hand, I studied the layout of the museum multiple times and always found smaller, hidden staircases or passageways still accessible to get me where I needed to go. So, if you are turned away for these reasons, fret not! If you’re determined enough and sneaky enough to search out these smaller, lesser known entryways, you can see everything you need to see. However, that being said, if there are certain entire sections closed off for things like this or art restoration, there is actually no way around it. This was something I encountered on the 2nd floor of the Denon section. The entire top level of this section was closed off for restoration and I’m sorry to say that that is final. Though you can find ways around closed off staircases and such, you certainly can’t sneak into places and do anything illegal. So, don’t take this advice as me telling you to pull off some sort of National Treasure stunt! Nic Cage won’t help you out if you decide to break laws.

5. The provided maps are actual lifesavers and your connection to the museum world.

As I’ve mentioned in almost the entirety of this post, the Louvre provides handy dandy paper maps in every language for you to use to your advantage while exploring the Louvre. The maps contain a floor plan of the museum complete with color coded sections and suggestions on what is most famous in that section and on that floor. They seriously are so helpful if you’re wanting to find a way to conquer the Louvre like I did or if you’re just wanting to find the Mona Lisa. Make sure to grab one as you pass by the information center, I promise you won’t regret it.

*Bonus* There is a “secret” entrance as mentioned above that allows you to skip the crowds and get inside within seconds.

This little tidbit of information that I possessed as a Parisian is probably the thing that my Dad was most thankful for when he and my Mom came to visit. As you can imagine, the Louvre is almost always stuffed full of humans and if you can believe it, my Dad is not a big crowd person. I know I love new things and meeting gaggles of new people, but I certainly didn’t get that from my Dad because he’s the exact opposite.  If he could avoid all human contact outside of those he loves, I think he’d live his happiest life. So, for him, coming to Paris was a definite culture shock in the way of people. He previously thought that a crowd was the ironic wave of people leaving a Royals game early during the 8th inning to avoid everyone else, all the while ensuring their inevitable encounter with all other patrons from the game. Paris is definitely not the ironic wave of people from a Royals game. I’m pretty sure my poor Dad was in a state of shock and anxiety the whole time we were in the city and the Louvre was no exception. Though I couldn’t disperse the crowds within the museum for him, I could ensure that Dad didn’t have a heart attack while just entering it. The “secret” entrance is called the carousel and is a side staircase behind the pyramid that leads to the shopping center and also the entrance to the museum itself. It’s highly less frequented than the main entrance and a nice welcome for the father of a daughter who loves the city but appreciates her dad’s hatred of people.. Love you, Dad!

So, there you have it! Just a few tidbits and facts that I can provide for you beautiful readers and fellow adventurers who hope to some day visit the Louvre for the first time or maybe return for another visit. I hope I was helpful! There’s certainly so much more to learn about this fantastical place though, so if you have any questions or comments for me, don’t hesitate to ask! As you can tell, I obviously miss Paris with a burning passion and would love to talk about it even more.

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The Completion of My Paris Bucket List

I did it! I finished ALL of my Paris Bucket List! ..except for three items I couldn’t afford as a poor nanny. 

    
 The last few items on my list were not easy in the slightest. The first, and one I’m most excited about, is seeing the entirety of the Louvre. I did that. I saw it all. And you know what? It’s massive. Unbelievably massive. It took me five trips and that’s even after I’d been multiple times previously. There are so many hidden rooms and staircases that it’s ridiculous. Part of it was closed off but no matter, I found a way around all of the construction through hidden passages and just kept on going right through (around the construction, of course). The Egyptian section is mesmerizing. I’ve always had a love for ancient Egypt and so getting to see so many real sarcophagus’ and AN ACTUAL REAL LIFE MUMMY, pretty much made my whole life. While going through, I marked everything off on a map from the information desk and said map is now a tattered mess, yet still in tact for my offspring to be proud of one day. 

    
   
The second thing I’m most proud of is getting up at 4am to go watch the sunrise at Montmartre. It was glorious and everything anyone could hope for in Paris. Sitting on the steps of Sacre Cœur with Aimi and Gemma on our last full day in the city, breathing in the morning air.. Yes, I cried. It was a magnificent morning. 

 The last thing on my list that I completed, was actually completed at the beginning of my year. Let me explain. One thing on the list was “hipster theatre.” I wanted to go see an obscure show at a hole in the wall basically. But with time and how slowly I realized I was quickly leaving, it just wasn’t possible. Then, it hit me. I used to regularly go to Open Mic night at the Highlander when I first came to Paris. It was a small show with local artists put on in the basement of a Scottish pub – what more could I ask for in the hipster theatre respect? So there you have it, done.

COMPLETE.

SUCCESS.

All done.

..except seeing a show at Moulin Rouge, having afternoon tea at Ladurée and velibing (biking) around Paris because I just did not have the money for them. And that’s okay because everyone knows I’ll be back.

One day.

Tackling (Most of) My Paris Bucket List in One Week

Since moving to Paris almost a year ago, I’ve had a bucket list to complete that I’ve slowly been adding to throughout my time here. And last week, I was able to cross off four more things. So, I’m almost done with my list! Just a few more things left.. But for now, I’ll tell you all about the ones I just crossed off.

  First, there’s Giverny. You’ve heard of Monet, right? Those beautiful water lily paintings? Yeah, I went to his house last weekend and it’s just as gorgeous as you’d imagine it to be. Overflowing with thousands of flowers outside the front and the hidden pond off to the side.. It was all so surreal and magnificent. I couldn’t help but just stare and stare and stare. The girls and I decided to go exploring throughout the town after his house too and found ourselves on a little adventure throughout the hills. We climbed a trail that led to the top of a steep hill and at the top you could see the wonders of nature for miles and miles and miles. It was just such a peaceful and relaxing day full of flowers and sun. 

                   

  Next, I climbed to the top of Notre Dame. Kissing a gargoyle up there has been one of the top things on my list all year and I finally did it! Obsessed with gargoyles.. Anyway, the view was glorious and breathtaking but mostly I’m just happy I kissed a real gargoyle. Even looked for Quasimodo but couldn’t find him anywhere. 

     
  Then, I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Gotta say, this view is my favorite in all of Paris thus far. You could literally see the whole city and it started with the length of the Champs Elysées. Really just a spectacular place to go and get lost in thought within the beauty of this city. 

        
  Finally, I sang karaoke at my pub. Yeah, it might be a weird thing to have on a bucket list but it makes sense to me. The Highlander is the place where I literally spend most of my time in Paris and every Thursday night they have karaoke. Usually, I just laugh when everyone else makes a fool of themselves for everyone else’s pleasure but this time I decided to be the fool. I told Declan, the best bartender in the world, that I was going to do karaoke tonight so that I wouldn’t be able to bail. Once I told him, I was stuck. Later in the night he called me up to sing and even though I pleaded for a good 30 seconds for him to not make me actually do it, he announced to the whole pub that this was something that I had to do and that I needed to knock it off my bucket list. Thanks, Dec. Anyway, I sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” and I even did the Steven Tyler squeal with my voice after every line. It was pretty fun since I committed to it and sang my heart out – none of that shy, quiet I-don’t-really-wanna-do-this kinda stuff – no, I full on went for it. I feel sorry for everyone’s ears but I don’t really care, I had a blast being an idiot. And now it’s been crossed off my list.

So, there you have it. I completed four new items on my Paris Bucket List within a week and I only have about three more things left before I leave in two weeks. Here’s to its completion!

Sainte Chapelle: Another Parisian Bucket List Item

  Yesterday I finally ventured inside Sainte Chapelle, a royal medieval Gothic chapel, here in Paris. It’s known for its glorious stained glass windows and they definitely didn’t fail to impress. I get why everyone talks so highly of it now. Seriously gorgeous. Anyway, these photos don’t do it justice but they’ll have to do! 

       

Another bucket list item checked off!

Shakespeare and Company and the Beautiful Parisian Life

Tonight I got to check off yet another item on my Paris Bucket List: buying a book from Shakespeare and Company

 

I honesty only recently discovered the book lover’s dream near Notre Dame and am ashamed of myself for this fact. However, I know about it now and I believe we’re already in a spiral of endlessly unrelenting love. I spent my whole evening tonight curled up on one of the velvet couches upstairs with Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.” The sporadic pianists who came through to test out their skills for those filling the room enhanced the night tenfold and the dark aroma of Paris’ sweet and sultry scent spilling into the room completed the evening. A literary enthusiast’s actual dream.

As I was perusing the shelves for my dark pleasure, Dracula, I stumbled upon the most perfect copy I’ve ever seen. Mysterious grey and hypnotizing black cloth envelop the pages in beautiful simplicity; I immediately plucked the book up and held it close, knowing my decision on what book to actually buy first had been made. My favorite book in the perfect wrapping, I couldn’t be happier. 

  

 Receiving the famous Shakespeare and Company stamp upon purchase, I strolled out into the Parisian night with a grand smile painted across my face. The only way to end this wonderful night, I thought to myself, is to stroll home in the beautiful weather, while listening to the crisp lullabies of Edith Piaf.

So that’s what I did.

I turned off the world and watched the crystal-lit Seine dance along with the lights of the city and hummed sweet French classics to myself in the night air.

Quite the perfect end to yet another wonderful Parisian day.

Mom & Dad Take France, Pt. 1: Paris

I FINALLY SAW THEM! Eight long months after leaving my loving parents, we were reunited in Paris! I gotta say, that long wait at the front of the greeting line at the airport was quite tense for me.. Waiting, watching for those two faces while grasping a fresh baguette and doting a black beret and striped tee, I was ecstatic and all over the place to say the least. I’d waited so long for them to finally arrive and these last few moments at the airport were tough. I can’t even imagine what all the Frenchies around me were thinking.. “AMERICAN,” “Idiot,” “Who’s this weirdo making fun of us?” “I feel bad for whoever she’s waiting for,” but I didn’t care! I looked like a stereotypical American idiot but I was overjoyed that Mom and Dad were about to arrive in the first country outside of the U.S. that they’d ever been in and I wanted them to have the best greeting ever.    Therefore, the costume was very much needed. Trust me. So anyway, I’m waiting at the front of the greeting line for them and then all of a sudden the military guys come over and start yelling at everyone to get back and they shove all of us away from the gate. “BUT NO BECAUSE MY MOM AND DAD ARE HERE AND I DON’T CARE WHAT’S HAPPENING, JUST LET ME SEE THEM.” Then, I realize why we’re all being pushed back and it’s because a large black bag has been left in the middle of the area where I’d been standing and the police are treating it as a bomb. “Oh.. Okay.. Well. Maybe this was a good reason to shove me away from the big black possible bomb bag.. BUT STILL.” A few minutes later, everything is okay and turns out it’s just a regular suitcase someone dropped and we’re all allowed back at the greeting gate. I rush over to the front again grasping my now not-so-fresh baguette and wait. And wait. And wait. And then I receive a text from my Dad stating, “We’re taking turns going to the bathroom, be out in a few minutes.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME, GUYS!? I’ve been waiting 8 months for this and you’re wasting time in the bathroom!? COOOOME ON. So, I wait. More. Then.. THEY’RE HERE. I duck under the bar and run to them in front of everyone at the airport and grab them both in a baguette-filled hug. I’m sure all the Frenchies now understood that this was a big deal and they all got a good heartfelt reunion showing. Despite what everyone probably thinks, surprisingly no tears were shed. We were all too excited about the moment to cry. So, we shuffle ourselves over to the side and what do we do? We take a selfie. Yeah, first thing we do. Take a selfie.   After the selfie, I proceed to lead them through the airport to the metro where they take their first metro ride in Paris. It was full of horrible stares at me, English speaking tourists and plain just full. My parents got their first taste of Parisian life on that metro ride – so many stares at them. My Mom didn’t like it one bit. But they learned to get over it and ignore all the looks throughout their time here just like all the other Parisians do. During their time in Paris, we went to all of my favorite places, met most of my friends, ate crêpes, drank wine and champagne, met my host family, had picnics, explored all of Versailles and climbed to the summit of the Eiffel Tower.               

Speaking of climbing the Eiffel Tower.. I’d never been to the tippy top. I was saving this bucket list moment to experience with my parents. And boy, am I glad I did. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m terrified of both heights and elevators. Sooooo, going to the top of the Eiffel isn’t exactly an easy feat. BUT! I’m not the type of person to let fears control my life and I have no problem with conquering my fears. I never hesitate to try new things and escape fear. So, I climbed the Eiffel. It was terrifying sure, but I had my Mom there to comfort me when I started to have a (teeny tiiiiiiiny) panic attack at being 300 metres high. Even so, I walked to the edge and stared over the bars onto my beautiful home of Paris. I walked along the entire perimeter of the edge and am so proud of myself. I finally conquered the Eiffel! Thanks to my parents.        During their time here, my parents both embraced French life. If you know me, you know I love wine. Like, loooove love wine. I want to work in the wine industry. I love wine. Anyway, if you know my parents, you know they don’t drink. Like anything. Ever. I think I’ve seen my Mom take a sip of wine twice in my life and those two sips are the extent to which I’ve ever seen her consume alcohol. And I’ve never seen my Dad drink before in my life. So, when I saw them embracing French life in the form of wine and champagne, I was overjoyed. Mainly just with the fact that they were trying to see what it’s like to live like me and that they were open to so many more things.   They both enjoyed the wine and champagne that France had to offer them in addition to so many more things. They tried foie gras (without knowing what it was), they tried all kinds of French cheeses and they let me show them around Paris as a true Parisian. They were truly open to broadening their horizons and I couldn’t be more overjoyed with them. To sum it up, I had the most wonderful time with my Mom and Dad while they were here in Paris with me for two weeks. Saying goodbye yesterday at the airport was harder than I thought it’d be but it will only be two and a half more short months before I see their shining faces again.   I am one happy American girl in Paris.

Side note: I crossed two things off of my Paris Bucket List. 

 

Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera

Okay, so as I mentioned, my best friend Auburn came to visit me for her spring break. We went to London, we had lots of shenanigans, we did awesome stuff.

IMG_7553Well, one of the awesome things that we did was go to the Paris Opera to see a show. This was something on my bucket list that I started last fall when I came to Paris and I was finally able to knock it off. We saw “Le Cid,” a French opera written and first performed in the 17th Century.

<3

Our seats were bad and our view was terrible but we had a great time nonetheless. It was surprisingly easy for me to follow along so I’ll take that as meaning that my French has improved significantly since first moving to Paris. So yay me!