Why I wasn’t sure about visiting the Louvre Museum

Because I knew this would happen.

Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum
Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum

Okay, I should say first, I had an amazing time at the Musée du Louvre. The famous Louvre Museum. I truly loved it. The pyramid, the art, and the surrounding buildings… everything about it was amazing. But I’m saying I knew it would happen at some point, eventually.

Organize the itinerary for Paris wasn’t easy. I have five days here but, it’s Paris! There are so many things to do and see. Nonetheless, the top choices were clear: the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame de Paris, Montmartre – because we are staying here- and the Louvre. And then I thought, “Wait a second.” I hesitated a little on the Louvre. I wasn’t like I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to bury myself in the crowd. Paris is big and packed with tourists, and the Louvre would be one of the most congested places in the entire city. It is the best museum in the world, no doubt, it would be absurd not to visit. But still, I wasn’t 100% sure. Why? Because I knew this would happen.

Starry Night at the MET
Starry Night at the MET

I was lucky enough to visit MET and MoMA this summer. New York City was delightful with so many aspects especially the arts. During my visit to a few art museums in NYC, witnessed the same scene in front of the Starry Night, by Van Gogh. Art expert is one of the things that I’m not, but I loved the Starry Night when I first saw it from the textbook because it was about the night sky. And there it was, the original painting of the Starry Night, but I couldn’t be emotional or nostalgic.

Gone to far?

The Louvre is more than enough to explore avoiding the crowd, but we all want to see the certain famous art pieces, like Mona Lisa. When the time comes, we have to swim through the pool of tour groups, school kids, paparazzi and just travelers just like me.

The crowd is okay, it’s not pleasant but I understand. I’m one of them. More disturbing one is the photography part. I for one, I’d like to document my travel moment through the camera. If I were looking at one of the most famous art works, I would want to shoot a shot or two. And I do. I’m a proud owner of a photo of Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vince, and a bunch of other famous artists’ works. But I’m sometimes thinking when in the museum; it’s gone too far. The flash: it’s very clear not to burst a flash to a hundred years old oil painting. But it is still happening. The photographing: do people actually enjoy the painting that is right in front of them? Do they cherish the experience? The joy of looking at one of the most valuable assets in the entire world face to face. That I can’t exchange it for anything. Even over the hundreds of shoulders of other people, Mona Lisa looked stunning.

Venus de Milo at Musee du Louvre
Venus de Milo at Musée du Louvre

Photography and travel always have been very controversial. It is the essential part of the person’s journey, but sometimes it’s better not to have a camera. It is distracting and it is weighing me down. Yet, I got to have it. It’s the same logic in the museum. Good to document your special moment, but there should be a line. It should be a ‘customary’ behavior.

The Musee du Louvre was amazing. The amounts of art pieces are more than enough to explore for a month in a row. Possibly the best 11 euros I’ve ever spent. I didn’t get to see Mona Lisa up close but saw other amazing paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, up close. It was beautiful.

Amazing time at the Louvre and the recurring experience got me thinking. What do you think? Have you ever thought about it?

24 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Want to Visit the Louvre Museum”

  1. I agree. I love taking photos while I travel – it’s important to me for many reasons, but I have found that many people really over do it. Recently when I was on Safari in Tanzania there were some incredible moments and naturally, everyone wanted to take photos of the animals in the wild. Some people were so obsessed with taking photos that they didn’t actually take the time to look at these animals through their eyes rather than the viewfinder. It’s important to put the camera down to really enjoy these moments. Not all memories can be captured with a camera.

    1. That’s the dilemma we run into as a traveler, and as a blogger. We want to have an amazing experience, and we also have to have the photo to make the contents. It’s hard to separate two. But I’ve noticed that a lot of cases people didn’t really take any time to appreciate what’s infront of them, which will last longer in their memory than a blurry photo.

  2. I do think that a lot of people have gone overboard taking photos of sites and not enjoying them. I am certainly guilty of this sometimes. I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of the Sagrada Familia.

    Picture taking has changed since digital became the norm. You can pretty much take unlimited pictures. When you had to carry the actual film, and pay for it, you chose your photos more carefully.

    I really wish people would stop using flashes in Museums. It is unnecessarily with most cameras.

  3. It’s a strange thing. I find that a lot of the things that are on your must do list, can be the most irritating, yet still enjoyable parts of your vacation. You wouldn’t miss it for the world, but you’d never want to go back. I think when we go to Paris, we will have to go to the Louvre too, but I know when we actually get there, we will be ready to leave more soon than later. Sometimes not much beats a cocktail at sunset on a quiet river. 🙂

    Happy Trails! and please keep taking photos! 🙂

    1. True, some places are just have to be visited even though we know it will be not so pleasant. But I don’t regret visiting the Louvre. I really saw some amazing arts. Just was an agony to go through all the people. 🙂

  4. I agree with Jeff and Dean’s comment above and I have been guilty at times too. Many years ago I read an article by a photography teacher. He said what he was really doing was teaching people how to see. How to notice and appreciate beautiful and interesting things wherever they go. By holding a camera they became more aware of these things. He said “Eventually they don’t need the camera any more, they know how to see.” I always try to remember that. I’m afraid with camera phones and social media today too many people are using cameras without seeing.

  5. I think more than the photography, the crowds are what bother me at major tourist attractions. It just makes it so much harder to appreciate the beauty or magnificence of a place when there are hordes of people, loudly pointing out various things that are obvious and unnecessary (or worse, reading signage out loud – my pet peeve!). I find this especially bothersome in places where the building itself is a work of art (the vatican for example) – there are just so many people you can’t even see the place properly.

  6. Great post! We didn’t visit the Louvre in Paris although we walked right through the grounds, The crowds and lines just seemed so off-putting. I have the same dilemma about my camera– I often feel like I am not truly experiencing something because I am so busy photographing it! It’s especially hard being a blogger since we need to document everything. I always think of what post I could write when I am visiting a museum or other attraction.

    1. That’s the occupational hazard… we are creating contents, non-stop, and we really need to recognize that. I do the same too, but just it made me think sometimes.

  7. I get EXACTLY what you mean, Juno. I think it’s important to take photos, but at the same time, there has to be a limit. I always breathe a heavy sigh when all I see is people go to a painting or exhibit, take a photo, then move on to the next one. Too many elbows and people jostling to get a good shot. There does need to be some kind of a limit, but that would be hard to define and you’d get people ignoring it anyway.

    My brother’s been visiting for the past few days here in Korea, and yesterday I just put the camera away. I refused to take it out with me when we were seeing places, and his partner just snapped a few shots. In some ways it can be stressful if you have a time limit – you only have a certain window in which to take a photo.

  8. Interesting pont of view, Juno. In many places taking photos has been forbidden and I somehow agree with the decision. I also like taking my camera with me, and shooting my own picture of a work of art. But then I think… For once, I have to fully concentrate on what’s in front of me. A camera is a wonderful tool, but sometimes there’s the risk to see the world through an eye that’s not our anymore.

    1. That happened to me at Sistine Chapel. No camera was allowed wit a few reasons but one of them was to prevent ‘flashing’ the fresco. And I agree with that. I wanted to document the amazing moment, but at the same time I truly enjoyed the painting because of that.

  9. I knew I wanted to visit the Louvre when I was in Paris (and it was just as packed, yikes!) but it also felt special being able to see some world-renowned works for the first time. I didn’t take that many photos that day, and the few I did take were of the building itself. The Louvre has some stunning ceilings!

  10. Juno, I had the same feeling when visiting the Louvre Museum 2 years ago. It was extremely busy (I was queuing for 3 hours to be able to cross the square) and then we I finally got inside people were pushing me and kicking me so they could take some good photos of Mona Lisa. However, in overall I enjoyed my whole day there admiring the art and beautiful architecture of this place. Did you have to go thought the security gates? I had to empty my bag and it took them ages 🙂

  11. We had a weekend in Paris a few years ago and the Louvre certainly wasn’t on the list of priorities for either my partner nor I. Art is a completely foreign concept to me, I just don’t really get it and, having heard about the Mona Lisa crowds we figured we had better things to do. However, when my partner’s 13 year old (at that stage) son said he wanted to go and look at the Mona Lisa, well, we just had to do it. What 13 year old wants to look at paintings for Pete’s sake? So the Louvre we did.

  12. I went to the Louvre and the first time I couldn’t get in because of a strike. The second time, I got in, but a long wait. I too was surprised at all the photography that was allowed. Same thing happened in Madaba in Jordan…the mosaics were exposed to all the elements and I was surprised! Maybe I’ve been living in the US too long!

  13. I agree with what Simon said. Photography is a tool and it helps to enhance our travel and our experience, but it is not the only tools and not the only way to experience. Sometimes it’s good to put down the camera and just observe and absorb the atmosphere.

  14. I felt this way when I went to Musee D’Orsay. Everyone had wowed about it and when I got there, it felt anticlimactic, much like seeing the Mona Lisa. I had more fun going to the small 3-room gallery to see the David Hockney iphone art exhibit in January 2011. I blogged about that weekend in Paris, along with other trips.

  15. Interesting post, I can understand where you are coming from! i visited in winter and it was very quiet, I actually was able to see most of these famous and amazing European treasures in winter. People thought I was nuts leaving behind the Aussie summer to go to Europe, but this was part if the reason I went, it’s also our summer vacation 🙂 so I had time! But winter travel isn’t as bad as people think!!

  16. I have just returned from a five-day trip to Paris. I didn’t take a single photograph; it’s all in my head, as experienced through my open eyes.

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