A date with Mona Lisa at the Louvre

mona lisa at the louvre
Perhaps Mona Lisa and I sharing a cup of tea 

Will Mona Lisa reveal the secrets she holds behind that enigmatic smile? What was Leonardo Da Vinci’s inspiration for creating this renown painting? Who was the model? Is it actually a self portrait? These are all things I hope to discover, but before I visit Mona Lisa, I make a quick stop at the Army Museum.

The timing of my arrival in Paris has been perfect as yesterday was Bastille Day and I was treated to a parade and free museums all day. 

Today I continue my good luck and perfect timing as I arrive at the Army Museum just in time to watch the troops preparing for an inspection by the French Prime minister. The preparation takes 30 minutes. Shockingly, the soldiers do not stand at attention the entire time. I catch a glimpse of a couple soldiers poking one another in front of 100’s of spectators and their commanding officers. They straightened up when the PM arrived. 

 

The troops have passed inspection and I’m ready to move on to the Louvre, one of the 4 defining structures of the Parisian landscape. Can you name the other three?  

 

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Eiffel Tower
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Notre Dame Cathedral
COP21: Arc de Triomphe Sun Action in Paris
Arc de Triomphe
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Louvre Museum

What do you think of this glass pyramid? Love it or hate it, it’s the very controversial entrance to the Louvre.  It’s designed to shine light into an underground complex so massive it even houses a bus depot. This public underground area did not exist when I first visited Paris in 1986, and there definitely was no pyramid, but Paris was experiencing more and more tourist and the crowded and confusing layout of the museum needed restructuring, so the underground was added in 1989.

The Parisians accepted the expansion but most absolutely reviled the accompanying 71 foot tall glass and metal pyramid.

When the plans for the pyramid were released to the public, 90% of Parisians were against it. The architect, an American named Mr. Ieoh Ming Pei could hardly venture onto Paris streets without facing ridicule. The fact that he was American and not French, added to the insult, but Pei is the man that the president wanted for the job and the pyramid was built. 

I am happy to report that over the years the pyramid has become tolerated and even loved by some. What do you think? 

Glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre
Science trivia: Look at a thick piece of glass and notice that the edges have a green tint. What is the reason for this? Why does the Louvre glass not have this tint?

Yesterday was Bastille Day and all the museums were free to enter, but I thought the Loure would be crowded with a long queue to view the Mona Lisa, so I used up my free visits on the Partheon and Cluny museums instead. The Louvre price isn’t bad though, only $20 USD for an entire day of museuming. I was advised to do the audio tour but they’ve run out of headphones, so come early if you want to go that route.

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Just so you don’t waste time walking around the entire outside of the building looking for the entrance as I did, realize that the glass pyramid is the entrance, then once you get inside, go downstairs to purchase your ticket and enter the museum.

 

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Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa

I recommend that you set aside an entire day for the exhibition. In fact, two days would be better, one for each of the two wings. Actually, my recommendation to fully enjoy Paris at a leisurely pace is to stay an entire month, spend your morning at a cafe, then visit one museum each day, but alas, that takes time and money.

 

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St.John the Baptist painting by Leonardo da Vinci

It’s best not to follow the Louvre’s hand held map, because it can be confusing. As far as I can tell, the two wings connect on the ground floor only. The best plan is to go round and round viewing one entire wing from top to bottom, then when you reach the entrance again, switch to the other wing. I can’t even begin to cover everything in the Louvre, so I am providing a link to the official website. https://www.louvre.fr/en

red art relaxation girl
Photo by Una Laurencic on Pexels.com

The Louvre has been an all day event and large museums burn me out, mainly because there is so much to read and I’m standing and shuffling about for hours on end, taking two steps at a time to read every entry so I don’t miss anything important. I have often thought how much more enjoyable it would be to peruse large museums while seated, you know, like cruising through in a wheelchair, or something like a wheelchair but more stylish. Maybe you can invent something. Any ideas?

Here is a little Louvre quiz for you:  The Louvre holds 380,000 pieces of art but only 35,000 on display at any one time. If you spent 1 second viewing each piece, could you see the whole museum in one day? 

 

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