[Travel Diary #1] Belgium & France — Day 4: Louvre – The Dream Came True

We always want to have a chance to visit the Louvre Museum one day.

The second day we spent in Paris when we spent our time to visit the Louvre Museum, Royal Palace, Sainte Chapelle, Notre-Dame de Paris and Hotel de Ville. Not like the other days, we also had an evening trip around Paris.

The first destination, and also the most important one, was the Louvre Museum.

What a beautiful view from outside of the Louvre Museum — Image courtesy of the author

We were inspired by the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and the movies based on that novel. It was the motivation us to visit the museum we admired a lot. We also wanted to record the moments we spent in Louvre.

I don’t have to say much about the reputation of this museum. The glass-made pyramids looking from the outside of the museum is the feature of the museum. It was beautiful under the beam of the sun. The monuments are located in a large square, from where you can also see a part of the Eiffel Tower.

Talking a bit about the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum: according to what I researched, not many Paris people like these places. For the Eiffel Tower, they do not agree with putting an ugly iron tower in the middle of a romantic city like Paris. For the Louvre museum, what they don’t like is the pyramid-shape glasses. They argue that why one of the symbols of Paris has the shape of the Egyptian symbol. They have their points. But for us, as tourists, these places are still fantastic, and worth every cent we spent to visit.

Visitors need to buy tickets beforehand to enter the museum. The adult price is €17 per person. You can easily purchase tickets from their official website here. There are some exceptions which can get free admission to the museum, such as for people who are from 18 to under 26 years old. If you are under 26 years old, it will be your advantage to visit tourist sites in Europe. I checked several websites of tourist attractions in Belgium, France, or Italy, and most of them offer free (or discounted ticket) for youth (under 26). We are still young, but not that young, so we are not eligible to get free admission like them — poor us.

The museum is the place exhibiting artworks from the historical period to modern art in the 19th century. The structure of the Louvre museum includes three floors: the Floor -1 shows the Near Eastern and Egyptian arts, Islamic arts, sculptures and articles from the Ancient Egyptian Civilization, features of Floor 0 were sculptures, paintings in Roman and Greek antiques (together with sculptures from other cultures), and Floor 1 mainly exhibits paintings in Europe. Floor 1 is also the place where you can find the Mona Lisa painting. The host has a separate sign to direct visitors who would like to gaze this most famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.

 A part of the ceiling on Floor 0 of the Museum — Image courtesy of the author

Average duration to visit Louvre? It is hard to say. If you want to view every paintings or sculpture on all three floors of the museum, you should spend two to three days. Some people said that, if you want to really enjoy, to understand and immerse yourself in those artworks, it may take you months. If you don’t have much time, a few hours should be enough for you to know how great this museum is. Or, if you only care about Mona Lisa, you can go there, reach to the Floor 1, find the gallery where the Mona Lisa is exhibited, take a photo of it, and get out of the museum within less than an hour. But, it would waste your money (unless you are youth, as I noted above).

What impressed us inside the museum was its scale. The host put maps in several positions of each floor for visitors know where they are, what to be shown. With the large of the museum, it was understandable that visitors should spend days to visit the whole museum.

We started our visit from the top floor of the museum. This floor mainly exhibits the paintings and artworks from the medieval period to the 19th century. Many of them were religious paintings, drawings describing scenes or legends about the life and death of Jesus, about Mary, or Jesus’s apostles. The works of art exhibited in this floor were created by famous artists of this period, such as Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo. They represented one of the most thriving periods of art in history.

Image courtesy of the author

It was not too difficult for us to find Mona Lisa. The painting was exhibited in the middle of a gallery. When we reached to that gallery, there were not so many people there. So, we did not have to wait too long in the queue to get closer to the painting. Quickly taking a photo of this painting, we got out of the line and walked around to gaze other works exhibited there, including a panel showing unique things about the Mona Lisa: the origin of the Mona Lisa, Leonardo had never finished this drawing, a part of the landscape behind Mona Lisa was drawn by the imagination of Leonardo, and the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa painting — Image courtesy of the author

We were back to the main corridor of this floor, followed the route to continue our visit. There were some paintings I felt brilliant on this floor, including the painting reflecting the battle between David and Goliath, or the arts about the Napoleon period.

The statue of Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy in Greek mythology—Image courtesy of the author

The museum, as said, was so large that we were struggling to find the way to go downstairs. It took some time for us to find the stairs leading to Floor 0, where Roman and Greek works of art were exhibited. When I was a child, I would like to know about Greek mythology and the Roman Empire. They were something mysterious to me. And when I got to Floor 0 of Louvre Museum, that feeling came back. I was amazed by gazing statues, sculptures, archaeological objects in these eras. Stories about Gods on Olympus or stories about the Emperors of the Roman Empire came back to my mind and excited me. I thought I could visit the whole museum at once. But (again), the scale of the museum was the obstacle for us to visit and enjoy our time here. We could not finish our visit to the whole museum and had to skip the lowest floor of the museum. However, the experience we had in Louvre museum was still amazing.

Opposite the Louvre Museum was the Palais-Royal. This was the former royal palace. One unique thing of this place was the Colonnes de Buren — the artwork with the black-and-white columns. There was a big garden in front of the palace. However, we were just stood outside of the garden and the palace. To be honest, it was not impressive to me. But if you want to take a look around this place, you can give it a try.

Our next three destinations were Sainte Chapelle, Notre-Dame de Paris and Hotel de Ville. I highly recommended you to visit these three attractions on the same day because they were close to each other. Among these three places, we got inside the Sainte Chapelle. We needed to buy tickets to go inside. The price was €11.50 per person. You can find the website for buying tickets to Sainte Chappel (and several other monuments in Paris) here. But, be aware that the website only accepts Visa or MasterCard credit card.

Sainte Chapelle was a fantastic place to visit. The first impression was just excellent for us. The Sainte Chapelle uses the same entrance with the Palais de Justice de Paris, where the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation are located. There are separate lines to guide you to enter the right entrance of the Sainte Chapelle. Because of the same location with a governmental body, they checked our bags and stuff carefully for security purpose. It was the first time we saw a tourist attraction checking stuff of visitors carefully like that.

The Sainte Chapelle itself from the outside was high and large. But it has only two floors. The host arranged a line for us to follow the one-way route to visit this place. The beauty of the Sainte Chapelle lied on the second floor. When we got into the big hall on the second floor, we were impressed by its design. It was a long hall under a stunning stained-glass window. Fifteen stained-glass windows combining with the sunlight brightened the room. On the wall, there were statues of Jesus’s apostles. That was a fantastic scene we had ever seen, and it was more beautiful than we expected. 

Stained glass window inside the Sainte Chapelle — Image courtesy of the author

After spending a quarter of an hour there to enjoy the beauty of this floor, we followed the route to go down to the first floor of Sainte Chapelle where it had a statue of Mary. The host arranged a line of souvenirs on this floor. That was all about the Sainte Chapelle. One minus point of this place was that there was nothing much to gaze, and the ticket fare was a bit expensive for what people can see inside.

The statue of Mary on the first floor of the Sainte Chapelle — Image courtesy of the author

We continued to move to the Notre-Dame de Paris — the pride of Paris. As we all know, the church was burnt down last year. So, when we came there, it was under re-construction. Panels were covering outside of the Notre-Dame. The excellent point was that those panels introduced the design and architect of the church, and the meaning of the art details. It was a unique way for visitors who are not able to enter the church (like us) to understand it. On the side of the cover, visitors could find photos about the Notre Dame fire and miserable moments a few following days.

It was how the Notre Dame looked like when we visited it — Image courtesy of the author

About 500-meter away was the Hotel de Ville. It was the administrative building of the city with a big square in front of it. It has been the headquarters of the local administration since the middle of the 14th century.

Outside the Hotel de Ville — Image courtesy of the author

We continued our exploration of Paris after dinner. Chloe joined us after she finished her job. The first place of the evening trip was a milk tea store named Machi Machi — the bubble milk tea store endorsed by Jay Chou, a famous Taiwanese singer. Daisy and I ordered pudding milk tea for each. It was the first time we drank milk tea since we moved to Europe, and I have to say that it was wonderful. A bit regret that my favorite flavor — chocolate — was out of order at that time. You can find some Asian cuisine restaurants near Machi Machi, so for those who like Asian food, you have a lot of options here.

Enjoy Machi Machi milk tea — Image taken by my friend, Chloe

We took a walk to the Opera House of the city. This place looked more glorious in the day than night. We walked by there the day before, but we did not get closer. However, we were impressed by the mint-color roof of the Opera House when we saw it during the day. It was hard to see that feature in the evening.

Less than ten minutes walk from the Opera House was the Place Vendome. The feature of this place was a huge green pillar with the statue of Napoleon on top in the middle of a large square. Surrounding this place was several hotels. One of them was the place where Coco Chanel used to stay. This place at night was beautiful and glorious but, like some other places in Paris during this time, a part of it had been repairing at the time we visited.

Place Vendome — Image courtesy of the author

We came back to the Louvre museum after to gaze the beauty of the museum at night. It was 23:00, and from the museum, we could see the shining Eiffel Tower flashing its lights. An amazing thing you could see in the City of Lights.

Louvre by night — Image courtesy of the author

That was the end of the fourth day of our first Europe trip. See you next time in Versailles Palace and a French restaurant where we had the chance to enjoy French cuisine.


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