If you buy the Paris museum pass, you can go to dozens of museums without having to buy a separate ticket for each. I started with the Louvre. There is a sneaky way to get in and avoid most of the crowds. (1) Buy the ticket early. Since I had the museum pass, that was done. (2) Don’t enter via the large glass pyramid outside. Enter through the Carousel beneath the Louvre. Didn’t wait in any lines! oh and (3) Go early! If you can be there when it opens, that’s ideal!
Even early, the museum was still crowded around the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, etc. Got to see a kid wrestling a duck (in statue form, not real life) and a gnome riding a snail. Also walked through Napoleon’s apartments; he had some pretty nice rooms! Lots of red velvet furnishings and gold everywhere. The museum itself dates back to the 1200s with successive kings and emperors adding on to it as they saw fit. Now, it’s one of the world’s biggest (perhaps the biggest?) museum. It has art from ancient Egypt and Mesopatamia up to about the 1800s. The Egyptian section was pretty interesting as well.
But I wasn’t going to spend all day at the Louvre, though you could spend many days there and not see everything. Next I was headed to the Musee d’Orangerie.
About a 10 minute walk from the Louvre through the Tuileries Gardens is the Musee d’Orangerie, or as I have been saying in my head, the Orange museum. The Tuileries aren’t my favorite garden. You can’t walk on the grass, and yes, there are lovely sculptures around, you walk on loose gravel/stones that get into your shoes immediately. Not great. But I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really a disaster is it.
The Orangerie has the Monet waterlily paintings that stretch between two rooms and feature large canvases painted as the day moves – at one end is the garden at sunrise and it moves through to sunset. The paintings are placed where Monet himself placed them and in the space that he requested. Very beautiful. To sum up the informational video I watched, thankfully subtitled in English, there is an empty white room before you walk in to see the paintings like a narthex in a church, to prepare you for entering a sacred space. And the paintings were designed to help modern man escape from his stress, a place to sit and look at the paintings and relax. He also painted them while nearly blind, using his memory of where the paints were on the palette to get what he needed. The colors were stunning and it was definitely a very calm space.
Downstairs there were more exhibits, Picasso, etc. (Only in Paris are seeing Picassos a casual thing!) From there, it was only about 2pm. So why not walk for literally miles to the next spot? I’ve been a bit stingy with my metro tickets, preferring to just use 2 a day – one to get in and one to come back.
Once I’m in the city, I just walk everywhere. And my feet are looking pretty dreadful for it! Back to museums, I headed next to the sewer museum. A bit of a departure from the Louvre and Monet!
From there, I went to Napoleon’s Tomb and the impressive Museum of Plan Reliefs. They are “a unique collection of models of French cities and their surrounding contryside commissioned by the state from Louis XIV to Napoléon III.” They were used to help with military conquest and analysis.
And from there, to Saint Chapelle. Quite a different experience from the sewers!
And, you thought this day would surely be over (as did my feet), didn’t you? Nope, it was the Conciergerie, the prison where people were held as they awaited their fate, usually ended up as the guillotine. Saw Marie Antoinette’s quarters.
And that, finally! was the end of museum day one.