|Maillol statues in Tuileries Gardens in front of Louvre|
As a tour guide and long-time resident of Paris, one question I’m asked almost as often as "What made you stay here all these years?" is "What is there to see in the Louvre?"
The answer is 300,000 works of art displayed over miles and miles of galleries. Unfortunately, of those 300,000, only three seem to be of any interest to most tourists: the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus of Milo.
And even those may be debatable. I remember standing in front of the Mona Lisa next to a lady (from Manhattan judging by her accent) who said "I don’t see what’s so great about it." "Neither do I," replied her companion. "Let’s go shopping." And off they went, credit cards ready for action.
So now, with a view to furthering mankind, here, for all you museum crawlers, is the Fly-By Tour of the Louvre (record time to date: 15 minutes 32 seconds entrance to exit).
Now you’re two-thirds of the way down your list. And it’s only been 7 minutes! This is like taking candy from a baby, you think. But don’t let yourself become smug. The worst is yet to come. Swept along by the crowd, like a salmon headed upstream to spawn, you zigzag through that DaVinci Cluster and on into the next hall, filled with centuries of religious paintings from all over Europe. Protestants may have a slight edge here, because a Catholic upbringing can slow you down as guilt builds from turning a blind eye to all these Biblical scenes you learned about in Sister Mary Magdalena’s catechism class. But even Protestants will have to take long strides to keep the pace as the stopwatch ticks the seconds away. Forget Messina’s Portrait of a Condottiere on the right wall. Race resolutely to the end of the hall, turn left past the gentle beauty of Botticelli’s frescos and the 4th century Roman mosaic courtyard below, past the Winged Victory (again) and down the steps two by two. At the foot of the stairs, hang a sharp right around the corner. As you push past art lovers from around the globe, you finally spot her at the end of that long hall: Number 3. I mean, Venus of Milo. No need to go any further.
Now how about cooling off with something typically French to celebrate? Like Haagen-Dazs or a Coke at McDonald’s. But hurry up. We still have all the Impressionists at the Orsay Museum to see before the bus leaves for Brussels.