Thanks to pop culture, you may already be familiar with this place--without even stepping foot on the grounds. Maybe you're a huge Beyoncé fan and followed her family's private tour through the galleries back in 2014. Or perhaps you saw the Louvre in Ron Howard's 2006 movie adaptation of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." (The museum offers a guided tour based on pieces included in the book and film six days a week.) The Louvre--and its glass-grid pyramid that leads visitors down to the main level--is one of Paris' most easily recognizable attractions and was on our must-see list.
With our last full day in Paris dampened by grey skies and an all-day rain drizzle, my husband and I figured there wasn't anything more romantic than two museum lovers spending the afternoon roaming the halls of the Louvre. (Not that the museum is cozy or anything--far from it, as expected from an 800-year-old building originally meant to be a fortress against Vikings. It's true!) So away we went to stand in line to visit Venus, Mona and thousands of other masterpieces. Too bad we forgot an umbrella.
The Louvre is massive, with more than 35,000 works of art and a permanent collection that spans about 15 acres. Before you go, make sure you have a battle plan--and a map. (Confession: I got lost trying to find a bathroom. No joke.)
Many travel guides will have a suggested self-guided tour to speed through the museum and see only the most famous pieces: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, the Wedding Feast at Cana and the Winged Victory of Samothrace to name a few.
The Mona Lisa is encased in glass and surrounded by security in addition to its pulsating crowd of fans. To be honest, the painting itself seems miniscule compared to its massive fame, especially when placed across from the 22-foot-by-32-foot masterpiece, "The Wedding Feast at Cana," but who wouldn't take a selfie with her anyway?