If you only have one day to spend in Paris and would still love to brag to your friends that you have been there, all you have to do is to take a slow stroll along a 8-km stretch of THE most famous monuments of the city called the Axe Historique (Historical Axis). Surprisingly, this term seems to be alien to a couple of my Parisian friends and they have claimed that no Parisian calls this touristic avenue as it is. But the Axe Historique is still searchable as an article in Wikipedia.
In any case, this is a stretch of sheer Parisian grandeur and majesty that you don’t want to miss. Upon covering the whole axis, you would have literally walked through time from the 1600s into the modern era.
Your journey would begin from the Louvre. As you exit from the Metro station that bears the same name as this world-famous musuem, simply walk towards this awesomeness of a building that spans over 60,000 square feet. That’s about the size of 55 standard soccer fields put together. The Louvre is so huge and long that two wings of the building actually cut across a road before tapering off towards the Jardins du Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens).
No doubt, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, having received 8.8 million visitors in 2011 alone while the second most popular musuem – The British Museum saw only a ‘mere’ 5.8 million visitors in the same year. However, the global draw of the Lourve can spell trouble for you because at times, the queue into the museum at its front entrance can be shockingly long. So here’s a quick tip:
Unbeknownst to many, there are, in total, three entrances into the Louvre. The main entrance would obviously be the one in front of the gigantic pyramid at the main courtyard and another via the Carrousel du Louvre – an underground shopping centre that sits underneath the courtyard. Unfortunately, both these entrances share a common security counter, which obviously would mean a possible visitor bottleneck. This leaves you with only the last possible way to get into the Louvre easily and without much hassle.
Considering the relatively low readership of my blog, ahem…..this secret Louvre entrance should still be on the lowdown in the foreseeable future. OK. Here goes…
If you were to stand in front of the giant glass pyramid facing the statue of Louis XIV riding a horse, you will notice the two extensions of the musuem that stretch further along the Axe Historique. Walk towards the one on your left and you will approach a doorway with two lion statues greeting you on its sides. This is the Pointes des Lions (Gates of the Lions). I could still recall the smug look on my face as I glanced at the snaking line of people at the main entrance from a distance, because as I trotted into the Pointes des Lions, I swear, I was the only person in the invisible queue. And the best part? This entrance is the nearest among the three to the one and only Mona Lisa. Just follow the signs that will take you to the gallery in which it is housed and what will astound you there will not be the beauty of this Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, but the insane number of people crowding around it. Arrrggghhhh….
Seriously, if you think that the Louvre is a place for the quiet appreciation of art, you are sadly mistaken. The Mona Lisa looks like a thumbnail in the back of a considerably noisy crowd. The only way to get a decent picture of a smiling woman whom no one knows, is to jostle your way to the front and marking your territory before snapping way. Courtesy would have to discarded for a while because you will not receive any as well.
Generally speaking, you would need, on average, about three hours to complete a thorough tour of the Louvre. From its beautiful Renaissance paintings to intricate Greek sculptures, this museum seems endless. However, before rushing to view all its famous artifacts, one must always remember that one of the most, or if not, the most captivating art piece of the museum is the building itself. I sincerely believe that no number of Mona Lisas can trump the charm and magnificence of the Louvre as an architectural brilliance.
Enjoy your time at the Louvre and as you exit it, I shall continue your journey with a sharing of a pretty well-known Arch….no not that one that everyone else knows…it’s the little cousin…. 🙂