This was the day I had planned to go to the Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles but first I had to use the Metro to get there. This would be my first day using it and also the day that I became lost. I just couldn’t figure it out. The third time I was so lost I ended up walking from one Metro stop to the next! GRRR!! A VERY kind Metro employee pulled out a map, explained in perfect English where I was and how to get to the city center and pointed me in the right direction. I, however, took the wrong train again and ended up back at my hostel stop. I was confused and frustrated and could not understand why this was so difficult.
After getting back to my room and pulling up google maps, I realized I was going in all of the wrong directions. I thought I was west of the center city when actually I was east! DUH! So, armed with accurate information, I arrived at the Metro stop, (took a photo in case I became lost again) went downstairs (instead of upstairs), read the map correctly, hopped onto the correct route and minutes later I was at the Louvre stop which was clearly displayed on the Metro map!
I have a good sense of direction and rarely get lost. This fiasco was caused by a lack of planning and preparation. I wasted time getting lost (even if I tried to consider it an adventure) and as I’ve explained before: TIME IS MONEY! I didn’t have time to waste hopping off and on the Metro when I had a list of places to visit in the few days I’d be here. In the states I could put an address in my gps and arrive in short order. I didn’t have access to GPS here and I should have better researched where I was, where I wanted to go and how I would get there. In my initial plans, I didn’t have so much (literal) baggage and had planned on ONLY taking public transportation to give me a sense of the city and allow me to SEE the city. But my cab ride made me disoriented and lazy and I failed to do enough research. The Metro really is like a spider’s web but it is logical and sensible and I was an idiot to not understand it.
But now I had arrived at the Louvre and there was a 3 hour wait to get tickets. The crowds were enormous because of the Easter weekend holiday. There was a line upstairs as well as downstairs.But not for me! I had ordered my Paris Pass before I left the States and had it delivered to my hostel. I hopped into the upstairs ticket holder line and was inside in 10 minutes. Readers, PLEASE buy your museum passes before your trip! You’ll skip the lines and spend your time in front of the Mona Lisa instead of being number 967 waiting for a ticket!
I took the escalator from the upstairs and entered the crowd downstairs. It was noisy, bustling and busy and I picked up a map to decide where to go first. The Louvre has 3 wings and several levels, each with it’s own time period and theme. There are also guided tours and audio guides available but that’s not my jam. I tossed the map and explored on my own instead. I knew I wanted to see (Mona Lisa, The Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, French crown jewels) and had the time to do it.
There were hundreds of marble statues thousands of years old depicting Greek Gods and Goddesses:
I saw a Madonna and Child:
A Huntress (she was quite impressive):
Then I entered Napoleon’s apartment and was stunned at the ornate riches, the vibrant colors,
And the jewels! Objects in this picture were bigger than they appear!!
I was too short to get a closer shot of Venus:
and EVERYONE came to see the Mona Lisa!
Because of her checkered past, she has 3 guards, bullet-proof glass and a railing preventing anyone from getting too close. The room was packed with people and I could not get close to her or the railing and all of the tall people were near the front. This is also the place where professional pickpockets can retire so SECURE YOUR BELONGINGS!! There are signs warning tourists about them and it’s not hyperbole.
I had seen everything I wanted to and decided to step outside and look at the garden and, maybe, walk to the Eiffel Tower or see another museum. But I didn’t wear a watch (BIG MISTAKE), hadn’t had lunch, it was getting dark and the rain was returning. I opted to take the Metro, get something to eat and sleep well. Thank you Paris and good night!
Thanks Miaaventura for my brief trip from reality to the French Riviera; It was as if time stood still. Great storytelling. I could actually sense the frustration of the crowds gathered in one place and the serenity of the moment, the museum and the majesty of this beautiful place. Definitely going: not a matter of if, but When?
One thing I regret from my week in Paris: not going to the Louvre! I saw everything else I wanted to see, but took one look at the lines here & opted against it. You’re so right about buying passes ahead of time — would’ve saved me time!, and then I wouldn’t have missed it! My husband and I did a tour in Rome, which allowed us to skip the lines at the Vatican, and it was so, so worth it. Those tips and tricks are key to learn before traveling, aren’t they?!
The Louvre will be waiting for your return and be prepared to spend an entire day there! Vacation time management is always an issue, isn’t it? There are so many things to see, do and experience that when we chose one thing, we’re kinda rejecting something else. But that means we need to go back and accept everything we missed! The Vatican is certainly on my list and I’d love to hear more about it your experience.