My second day on Paris started as sunny as the first one. I had one agenda above all: to see the most controversial and mysterious smile. I wanted to look Mona Lisa from eye to eye, and ask what secret is hidden behind that so mild but yet so interesting facial expression. Is it a secret love affair or just content happiness of having a child (she had her second child just before the portrait was painted)? Or something else that we have no clue about.
The museum of Louvre is the world’s largest and most visited art museum. I was at the main entrance around 9 am with a couple of others. The line was already pretty long. I started regretting that I hadn’t bought online tickets in advance, but then I noticed that the queue started moving quite steadily. First we were queuing to get through a security control (you are not allowed to have large bags with you), and just after that we entered to a large hall where you can buy tickets from an automat. Altogether I ended up waiting some 15 – 20 minutes in the both queues combined, which is not bad at all. The tickets cost 15 euros, but if you are under 18 or under 26-year old EU-citizen, you are allowed to enter there free. One tip might be to try to get in through a less known entrance inside a shopping centre near by, not through the most popular entrance near the glass triangle.
When I had the ticket in my hand, I speeded up to see the famous lady. There were clear signs everywhere leading to the Mona Lisa, the world’s most visited and parodied painting. The atmosphere was strange, almost like meeting a big celebrity. People were surrounding the tiny painting, trying their hardest to get a photo or squeeze themselves through the masses to get a bit closer look of the famous smile. Security personnel was trying their best to keep the people under control.
I don’t blame people – the Mona Lisa is a stunning work of multi-talented Leonardo Da Vinci, and famous for a reason. However, there are so many amazing paintings in Louvre, that I am not quite sure why one of them has received such a reputation. There is so much to see in Louvre that you could easily spend several months just admiring all the art works. I would recommend doing a bit of a pre-planning before your visit. Decide what you want to see and then head to those sections. I wanted to see especially the French and the Dutch paintings, but unfortunately those sections were closed on the day I was visiting Louvre. Well, in any case, I got a big dose of art anyway.
I spent three hours in Louvre, and after that it was refreshing just to walk along the banks of Seine and gaze the ships passing by. The trees created nice shade from the warming sun, and a slight breeze was more than welcome. I could smell someone making fresh crêpes and hear a street artist singing in distance and playing accordion. This morning had something, perhaps a hint of Parisian spirit.
Louvre was definitely worth the visit, and Mona Lisa was surely worth seeing among all the other world class paintings there. I will visit Louvre another time, but next time I will make sure that the second floor (that has the French and Dutch collection) will be open. I am not sure if the lines will be as long in the afternoon, but I was content with my decision to visit Louvre first thing in the morning. When I was ready to leave, I would estimate that the amount of visitors had tripled from the morning. And I guess that the crowds will be even bigger during the summer.
Official site: www.louvre.fr/en
Tickets: 15 €, if you are under 26 (and have an EU-passport), you will get a free entrance
Opening times: Mon, Thu, Sat & Sun: from 9 to 18. Tue: closed. Wed & Fri: klo 9 – 21.45