Theresa's Mixed Nuts: Losing It at the Louvre

Monday, February 18, 2019

Losing It at the Louvre

I'll start this post by saying our timing for our Paris trip was not ideal. We were only going to have one evening and one full day in the city, so we planned everything we wanted to do down to the minute. But, as travelers know, plans can go haywire in an instant. We arrived in the afternoon on Bastille Day, which was our first mistake. With over a million people expected to be around the Eiffel Tower that night, traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. What should have been a 45 minute trip to our hotel from the train station turned into an almost 4 hour ordeal. We were tired and cranky, and sadly that crankiness spilled over into the next day.

Louvre

When planning your Paris vacation, you're going to hear it all over the place; Get to the Louvre first thing in the morning just to knock it off the itinerary. Even our French Uber driver advised us to do that, but we had pre-purchased our tickets online for the 3:00pm entrance time and couldn't arrive before then. Since the museum closed at 6pm that evening, we knew we were only going to have 3 hours to explore, so we spent about a week researching and mapping out what exhibits we really wanted to see. Of course, you can't go to the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa and since the lines for that can be quite long, that was going to be our first stop.

Even with a map handy, it took us 40 minutes to find it, and once I spotted that iconic  painting from the hallway, I was giddy and itching to get in to the exhibit. There are 2 doors in that hallway to enter, and both are blocked off by staff. The first team told us that entrance was closed and sent us down to the other one, who then said they were closed and we had to go back to the first, who then sent us back to the other. It was back and forth several times before I lost my cool with the attendant, who finally told us we had to go around to the back of the exhibit where there was a 3rd entrance. Jason and the girls made it through fine, but I was lagging a bit behind and when I got to the opening they tried to tell me I couldn't go in. I pointed and said "but that's my family right there!" and he said, "Okay" and unlatched the rope so I could pass.

For those who are going to be visiting Mona Lisa, I've marked up this map with the 3 entrances to the exhibit so you won't have to deal with the back and forth frustration we went though. At the first hallway from the exhibit, make a right, then another right and you'll find the 3rd entrance. Hopefully this map will save you from wasting 20 minutes like we did.

map copied from Join Us In France
Map originally from Join Us In France
There's not a line to stand in at this point, but you'll be squished like sardines with the rest of the museum patrons trying to elbow your way to the front to get an up close peek at Mona Lisa. It's true that it really isn't impressive at all in person, but the girls were thrilled in any case to be so close to this piece of art they've been hearing about all of their lives.

Mona Lisa

I was still seething over the first hour of trying to get to this point, when Jason asked if I wanted my photo with it, I wasn't having it. I just wanted to go. I grabbed a few more snaps of artwork I did find interesting before trying to hunt down our next stop of The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana

Hercule
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist




Four Seasons

 

Mona Lisa may not be that impressive in person, but The Winged Victory of Samothrace definitely is! I was mesmerized with this piece and wish I could have spent more time studying it if we weren't feeling rushed.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

It was just after 4pm at this point and we still hadn't made it off of our first level, so I stopped and asked one of the guides the quickest way to Venus de Milo. She shrugged and said, "I don't know. The museum is closed." We kind of just looked at each other a little confused after that and I shrugged it off to maybe she didn't understand English well, so off we went to hunt it down on our own. When we arrived, the entrance was roped off, and they were indeed shutting down the museum. I was beyond pissed at this point, so when the attendants went to direct a few guests out of the museum, I slipped past the rope to grab a quick snap.

Venus de Milo

As we were being ushered out, I took a few more pictures, but the whole experience left a bitter taste in my mouth.




At the exit, it was my husband's turn to lose his cool. He asked why they were closing at 4 when our tickets said closing was at 6. We had only been in the building for an hour and they were kicking us out. "Well, France is in the World Cup. It's a very special day for us, so we are allowed to close early today!" In his not so finest moment, Jason said, "I paid over $100 for us to get in for 3 hours. You only gave me 1. You're stealing from me! I want my money back!" Needless to say, they did not offer a refund lol. Thankfully, we charged the tickets to our credit card, who was more than helpful in refunding our money to us once we got back home and filed a dispute.

So, the lesson I learned and the advice I'll give you with our short trip to The Louvre:

• Go at opening and head straight for The Mona Lisa before the crowds start forming.

• Have a detailed map printed out and highlighted with every entrance to the exhibits you want to see, and make note if there are additional entrances on the opposite side of the exhibit.

• Purchase tickets ahead of time and use your credit card. Do not pay cash at the museum for your entrance fee. The Louvre will not refund you if they decide to close early. However, a good credit card will reimburse you should that happen.

*Little edit with Pat's suggestion. Don't go on or around Bastille Day or when there are any big sporting events scheduled for France. 

The Louvre

The Louvre



Have you been to The Louvre? What do you think is the best exhibit there?


26 comments:

  1. Cranky in Paris sounds like a nice title for a novel :)
    Mona Lisa is such a bitch, indeed, so unwelcoming and ungrateful towards her guests :) No wonder she was smiling to you so ebily laughing at your ordeal LOL

    This story of yours turns me just about totally away from any visit to Louvre! I told you we should visit Hermitage in sweet mother Russia instead, their collection of art is much more beautiful :)

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    1. If we get back to Paris, I definitely won't be going back. Even on a regular day, it was so confusing trying to navigate, we had several people trying to follow us because they thought we looked like we had a clue as to where we were going. It was the blind leading the blind. I'm sure Hermitage would probably be much easier and less crowded too.

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  2. Sure sounds like it was one thing after the other. Also a good tip would be to go when there are no sports things going on, huh? haha Got some good shots even if you were ticked. Good of the credit card company too.

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    1. I swear, it was one thing after another the whole time we were there. In all fairness, we did go at a bad time. I would like to visit the city again when it's business as usual, not packed with sports fanatics.

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  3. I have not been there. I've heard so much about it though. There are certain pieces I'd want to see, for sure. Good to know you have to be there early in the morning. Annoying that you couldn't get over to Mona Lisa sooner. That seemed like a hunt down that shouldn't of happened. Why did they have to block off different ways to get there? Punks! I think museums and shops should give a 30 minute warning - when they are going to close. At least you got some good photos through the frustration.

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    1. I think they were trying to control the stem of people into the room at one time, but the whole back and forth without proper direction on where exactly to get in really irritated me. Then, as soon as we made it to the other side, they started letting people into the first blocked off entrance they said we couldn't go through. It was ridiculous. I think they should have told us when they scanned our tickets upon entrance they were closing early that day, but you're right. A 30 minute announcement over the PA system would have been ideal as well.

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  4. I've never been there but I loved your pictures of it.

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  5. I have been and I could gladly lolly-gag bout for the whole entire day. In fact, I've considered going back and booking a day for the grown kids and my youngest to do something amazing while I stroll the Louvre. Of course, that wouldn't really happen (we stick together) but it's one of the few times I wouldn't mind a day by myself (no one else in the fam. would want to be there ALL day). I love it there. My favorites were Rubens, Boticelli (not the one I wanted to see most though, which is in Florence) and Panini. The Monet room was closed when we went. We went to the Musee d'Orsay though and saw his work (lots of Van Gogh paintings at the latter too). I didn't have any complaints about the Louvre, so I hate to hear your experience was bad (so glad you got a refund!). Paris had an airline strike when we were there, trying to get home. That was time-consuming and interesting (not).

    We've had 2 things go wrong on trips, as far as wanting to go to attractions and not being able to... 1. The Sistine Chapel was closed when we were in Rome -_- and 2. The Dublin Castle was closed when we went to visit. It was a bummer. My youngest cried over the Castle. He had his little heart set on it.

    If you go back to Europe, I suggest Prague as a potential place to go. I loved it so much there. Venice is next on my list. Inching my way to it (gotta bigger goal to meet first). :)

    Love your pictures. And I agree Mona's not all that and a bag of chips. Who'd she pay to get so famous anyway? ;)

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  6. I'd like to go, but that's rather expensive. I was glad all the DC museums are free.

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  7. Your photographs are really enigmatic! Love it! I have been there but it was raining so I did not get beautiful shots like you did. Thanks for sharing your travel adventure.

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  8. Great post and I learned a lot. It can be very frustrating when the staff doesn’t know what’s going on in their own place.

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  9. I remember I first saw Louvre! It was so magical although it was raining when I visited. When I went inside, I went immediately to see Mona Lisa! It was priceless!

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  10. Your pics were a trip down memory lane. We had spent almost a day in Louvre.

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  11. Kristine Nicole AlessandraFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:46 AM

    Never been there but would love to. I am sad that you had a not so pleasant experience at the Louvre. They should have informed the guests before hand. I would be upset too if that happened to me.

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  12. I haven't been to The Louvre since 2003. It was one of my favorite spots.

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  13. I have a list of places that I want to visit and Paris is at the top of that list. I would love to see the Louvre!

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  14. Toni | Boulder LocavoreFebruary 20, 2019 at 12:12 PM

    Aww..that's really frusttrating! But still, you've got amazing photos! Thanks so much for sharing some tips! They are really helpful!

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  15. You paid over $100 to get in for 3 hours... and were kicked out after 1 hour? Why am I not surprised?

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  16. I also got tired and cranky in Paris! I pre-bought tickets to almost everything and still had to wait hours upon hours in lines... :( In the end we didn't make it to the Louvre because I was overly exhausted from standing in Paris lines. We just walked the charming streets and neighborhoods instead.

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  17. I'm sorry that you had such a frustrating time at the Louvre. I'd have been pissed too. It's unfortunate that the staff was indifferent, and I'm glad that your credit card company refunded the money. I will not forget that excellent travel tip! Thanks!

    Terry and I spent four days in Paris, but we never made it to the Louvre. I'd like to go back in the off season during dreary weather and devote several days to just wandering its halls. The picture of you and the Venus de Milo was beautiful. I don't think I've seen a lovelier picture of that piece of art ~ It's something about the way the light strikes the marble and makes the body look soft, not like stone at all. the light was striking on you too! Have a good one!

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  18. Yikes! Sorry to hear about the ordeal but good thing is you still managed to see the Mona Lisa, and you managed to get a refund!! Great pics.. must have been even more amazing seeing them up front.

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  19. I think my favorite is the Four Seasons. The Winged Victory of Samothrace is pretty cool too. Glad you got a refund.

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  20. Yes, the timing of a trip can be vital to experiencing it more fully. Too many travelers can cause it to be a little less fun OR just make it take longer.

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  21. You took some really amazing photos! I would love to visit the Louvre when i get a chance to visit Paris.

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  22. I would love to visit the Louvre someday! Sounds like an amazing trip.

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  23. aaaah Theresaaa... I have been here 3 times and I haven't really finished seeing all my favourites! I can never get enough of this historical place. So much to see, so little time and so easily-tired legs :). Happy to see all your beautiful photos and cramming around dearest Monalisa hehehe

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Thanks for your comments! I appreciate every one of them :) Except promotional posts with added links. Those will be deleted.

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