ba da ba ba ba…

I’M LOUVRE-IN’ IT.

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Get it?!?

Okay, that was, by far, the dumbest joke I’ve made on this blog so far. Who gave me a computer and access to the internet, and what were they thinking?

I always thought it was a Jim Halpert I needed in my life, but nope, I was wrong. I need a Ryan Howard.

So, in case my ridiculous play on words didn’t clue you in, I finally took the leap and paid my first visit to the (interior of) the Louvre. It was, as expected, entirely overwhelming. I’m an art history major, so you’d think I’d have gone in with some sort of plan of attack. That I’d know exactly what obscure gem of a painting I had to track down. That I’d at least have some idea of the layout of the place. But nope, my trip to the Louvre went something like this.

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Get off the metro at the stop that conveniently deposits you right into the Carrousel de Louvre, essentially a small mall outside of the entrance to the museum. Sigh wistfully over the marble floors, high plate glass windows, and well-lit window displays because it reminds me of Canal Place, the shopping center on (you guessed it) Canal Street in New Orleans. (That’s right, everyone. New Orleans is so amazing that you miss it so much is hurts even when you’re in Paris.) Spot a Starbucks. Decide that I must come here to study sometime. Meander into L’Occitane and consider splurging on a few products. Catch sight of a vaguely familiar structure…

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and remember where I am. Oh, right. That little place called the Louvre. You might have heard of it.

Head towards the gorgeous glass pyramid and slowly make my way into the main entrance of the museum. Wait in a long line to get my (free) ticket, which I only obtain after a long, skeptical, scathing, in-depth analysis of my student ID card and my passport. Yup, that’s right, I faked a US passport, Tennessee driver’s license, and an ID card for a Parisian art school solely so that I could save 10 euros on my entrance to the Louvre. You got me.

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Ticket in hand, I pick up a map. Once you’re in the entrance, there are multiple separate wings of the museum to choose from (each of which plays home to more art than, I would estimate, the entire city of Chattanooga). They have helpful indicators on the map and hanging by the entrance to each wing that make note of the most popular/interesting things in each part of the museum. I see that if I go through the Richelieu entrance, I can visit Napoleon’s residences. That sounds fun!

After a seemingly endless trek through centuries of French sculpture…

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and up an imposing marble staircase…

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I arrive here.

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It was definitely cool to see, but also disgustingly lavish. Napoleon was kind of a tacky guy. I feel like if Vegas made a Versailles-themed hotel, this is what it would be like. Slightly more modern and flashy, but ultimately a pale imitation of the real thing.

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It was certainly fun to visit, though.

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We definitely need a table like this at our family Thanksgiving.

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Also a fan of the view. Although I guess back in the day, there wasn’t a giant glass pyramid on Napoleon’s front lawn.

Sooo, that’s done. Now what?

I whip out the map, and while everything sounds cool, nothing’s jumping off the page. Well, there is one thing. You knew it was coming. Yup, it would be cool if I were artsy and intellectual, but I’m just another tourist. I couldn’t help myself. I made my way to through the Denon entrance, to an entirely separate wing…

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past Winged Victory, which I’ve always been rather fond of and which is prominently displayed by itself at the top of a massive staircase…

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through the Italian Renaissance paintings…

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where I followed the signs…

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to this.

Hope you liked that dramatic reveal at the end there. They say I’m a frontrunner for the Cinematography Oscar in 2012.

I have to admit, I was pretty giddy once I got there. I understand why the Mona Lisa is innovative for its time and important and such, but it’s never been a favorite of mine. I appreciate it, but you’re not going to find me with my nose pressed up against it or anything. (You might remember my Musée d’Orsay post….)

Anyway, I surprised myself. I mean, it is THE most famous painting in the world. Everyone knows what the Mona Lisa is. (Or La Joconde, as the French call it.) And there she was, right in front of me, with her novel composition and famously enigmatic expression, painted by Leonardo da Vinci himself. My inner art dork made its presence fully known. I was giddily excited, standing there like an idiot with a (totally non-enigmatic) smile plastered on my face in the midst of dozens of tourists with their cameras in the air. In retrospect, a scene from Notting Hill comes to mind…skip to the 4:00 mark.

Yup, I’m back in full swing with the movie clips. Important distinction: none of the other cameras were actually pointed at me. However, people might indeed have randomly been making out…it is, after all, France. 

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Leonardo da Vinci touched that, people! I couldn’t help myself.

I eventually left, though, because the family behind me was not messing around and was eager to claim my spot. (So that they could complete their mission to photograph the painting from every conceivable angle, no doubt…”And here it is from the left! And the right! And here’s a slightly different angle on that one…oh, and here’s one I took standing directly in front of the painting! Remind me to tell you about that one sometime, I took out a small child, an elderly woman, and eventually a gendarme to get it….)

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It’s okay, though, because my trip through the museum brought me past this…which is also kind of famous, I guess. It’s so weird to see all this priceless art, just hanging out in one (albeit immense) building…in the city where I live…no big deal.

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I also wandered past The Raft of the Medusa, and in all the years of studying this, why did no one tell me how huge it is? Okay, they probably did, I just wasn’t paying attention. But there I am, walking through the Louvre...hey, that’s a big painting. Oh cool, the ocean. Hey, wait a minute, thats sort of reminds me of…but surely, it couldn’t be…here I scan for the title, spot it in French, and IT IS…LE RADEAU DE LA MÉDUSE! Seriously–my mind…consider it blown. I always thought this was a nice, normal sized painting for some reason. But no, it’s huge. Probably bigger than my kitchen at home. Okay, maybe not quite that big, but I’m a horrible judge of size and distance (I still give distances in meters from my track running days, I’m hopeless), so I’m not sure. It was giant. And very cool.

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Let me tell you about my favorite piece of the day, though. That honor goes to a little statue of Minerva I spotted on my way through the Italian sculpture wing.

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Why, you ask? Because, take a closer look at what she’s holding.

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If you know me, you know I’m totally head over heels for my sorority, Chi Omega. And one of the symbols of Chi O just happens to be an owl. It doesn’t hurt that this one is adorably precious and tiny, either.

I stood for a minute, smiling and snapping pictures, trying to figure out if I could smuggle the sculpture out in my bag and give it to my grand-little this spring. Or use it to decorate my room…decisions, decisions. You’ll be happy to hear that I decided against taking it at all, and am happily blogging from my dorm room, rather than a jail cell.

I probably saw about…hmm, 1% of the Louvre. But thanks to that handy (fake?) passport/ID combo, I can get in for free, anytime! So I’ll be back. (Probably to study at the Starbucks or hang out by the pyramid before I return to actually brave another trip into the museum, to be perfectly honest.)

I’m currently pooped from another day of wandering around Paris, but it’s very important that I regain my energy, because tonight is la Nuit Blanche! The idea is that lots of museums and galleries stay open all night, and you get to wander around the city and explore. It’s supposed to be insanely fun, and I’m super excited. But first things first…off to take a little catnap. I’ll be back soon, hopefully with fun reports of White Night in Paris!

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