In a miraculous turn of events (thanks to a rainy morning that kept us from exploring the gardens of Versailles), we were able to squeeze both art museums into one afternoon. Granted we took the speedy tour. But it was that or miss out on one of them. And thinking about that made my heart break. But you may have to make that choice - so I'll share the best of the best from both, and then the choice is up to you!
First off, let's hit up the Musee d'Orsay. I wasn't familiar with this early in my trip preparations, but a number of co-workers praised it's wonders as better than the Louvre. And that my friends should catch your attention. You might ask why, but it really all depends on your art interests. Yes the Louvre is the most famous museum worldwide. But if you are a lover of Impressionist works, then the d'Orsay is by far the better option if you have to choose. Now I was afraid I would regret not going to the Louvre - because you know, you're just supposed to. So we pushed our feet to the max and made it work. Tim Gunn style.
You're not allowed to take pictures in the d'Orsay, but I snuck this one to give you an idea of the size and beauty of the building itself. This is an old train station and the most stunning spots are behind the clock faces. And the view of the city from there isn't anything to sneeze at either.
But as far as what you'll see - it's an incredible collection. The best of pointillism by Seurat. Van Gogh's self portraits. Monet's lilypads. Whistler's mother. Degas' ballerinas. Each of these gents has quite the collection here & it's well worth the browse. There are a number of other exhibits, but we just hit my favorites. Andy was nice enough to wander wherever my heart pleased as I ranted about symbolism and techniques that had been tucked away in my head from AP Art History. Bless his heart - can you tell he loves me?
To be honest, I didn't realize until I read it at the Palace at Versailles, that the Louvre is actually Napoleon's palace. And it only takes one look at any ceiling in any room - even any hallway - to prove it. The over-the-topness is totally not of this century.
We visited on a Friday late in the afternoon, when it's open until 9:45. It wasn't too crowded, at least compared to other sites we had visitied in Paris, though its probably just because the museum is so monstrous, everyone is pretty spread out. There are self-pay kiosks under the pyramid, and we were able to walk right up - though the place is notorious for long lines. Regardless, you could spend weeks there and still not see the half of it. So we used Rick Steve's highlights from his guide book & picked and chose what we really wanted to see. Which I really should say is that we saw what we were willing to WALK to see. This is the moment when my feet had finally had enough. I would have paid most anything for a hoverchair to get me back to the hotel. But mind over matter, we meandered for a bit and can now say we saw it.
Venus de Milo
The Nike (or Winged Victory of Samothrace) was being refurbished....look for it in a stairwell!
If you only saw one thing - you know this would be it. And it's not as small as everyone will make it out to be - it's a normal sized canvas you might have hanging in your own house. But want to know what makes it look tiny? Be on the opposite wall as this guy...
Look carefully at the heads in that picture to give you the proportions on this monster. I've seen copies of this picture in a thousand places, but no one seems to find it important to tell you its taller and wider than your house. That's just a minor detail right??
There's so much more you can see, but we were getting Museumed out after the British Museum & the Orsay. And word of warning - maybe don't do the Louvre at the end of a long tired day. We may or may not have wasted about 1,436,564 steps trying to find the way out.