I had a great break last weekend and made a one-day shot London/Paris/London via the Eurostar (which is best way to travel this itinerary) to join some family for a special celebration. After lunch we also had (not enough) time to make a quick visit to the Louvre Museum. Given the recent incident where the Louvre was busted by Zahi Hawass for taking “hot” artefacts from Egypt, we decided to go have a look at the Egyptian Collection. The Louvre is even bigger than I had remembered it. Getting to the Egyptian area was not very easy.
So the first major tip on visiting the Louvre is to try to avoid the big lines to buy tickets (9 for permanent collection 14 for specials exhibitions combo ticket) you can find ticket machines or shops in the shopping center area near the Metro side entrance level. You can also buy tickets online or at FNAC. The lines can be very long, so getting a ticket is an important part of your gameplan.
As it turns out we made a big mistake in selecting our entrance to the Museum. We went into the gate marked “Richelieu” (probably because we saw too many 3 Musketeer movies). In fact, to strike toward the Egyptian collection you would be better off entering via “Sully.” Ithink the scale on the map doesn’t really give an accurate idea on just how far you need to walk across the Louvre if you choose the wrong starting point. In general, the walk is across many amazing things, but we were pressed for time. The rooms of the museum are almost as interesting as the objects on display. You really need to look around, check the spectacularly painted ceilings and (and out the windows where I was able to take the photo of the Pyramid above). It is truly a stunning place. It must be the most gorgeous museum in the world (like Paris is the most beautiful city anyway).
We eventually made it to the start of the Egyptian Antiquities area (Room 30 on the 1st Floor). My mission was to get to see the Akhenaton pillar fragment highlighted in the map in Room 25. It seemed a lot like the monumental sculpture of Akhenaton in the Cairo Museum that Ihad the chance to see last year. The representation of Akhenaton are usually so distorted and trippy.
The first piece that I noticed was a very nice Bastet the Cat (watch video: Animal Cults in Egypt). This particular cat has lovely blue lines around the eyes. It seems amazingly serene and wise.
A bit further along was this very interesting wooden piece marked “a King, possibly Ramses II”. Iliked the sequin-looking beads that must have been a shimmering crown when it was originally made. The mummy of Ramses II is in the Cairo Museum in their very creepy mummy room. Bob Brier, aka Mr Mummy, writes that Ramses II hair has been studied and shows that the famed ruler was red headed. (Interested to know about how mummies are made? Check this step-by-step mummy recipe and also a video here.)
By this time we were within 20 minutes of the the 6pm museum closing. We had no chance really of making it more than 50 more meters down the galleries. There are some many amazing small object to catch your eye. I could have spent hours there. We could see though that the museum staff were in fact eager to get out and back home even sooner than the closing time. They are starting to push us and the rest of the weary visitors out as fast as they could herd us (5:50pm on my watch).
Fortunately we were close to the beautiful Stele of Taperete. At first glance it is hard to believe that this wooden panel is around 3,000 years old. The colors are vibrant and the lines sharp. It is interesting to see her in some appreciation of two different forms of the sun god Ra. I really like what seems to be flowers shining/flowing down to her from the sun disk. The opposite side panel has this unexpected, amazing giant, nude female figure arched over the scene with her fingers gently touching the ground. Really it is quite stunning, almost like something from a Klimt painting. It is always impressive how much Egyptian artefacts seem so modern and famillar considering how ancient they are.
The good news is that getting out of the Louvre is a lot easier than trying to find a specific area. We came out onto the street level from inside the glass pyramid. The lights of the Louvre reflected on the pools around the exit. We enjoyed a walk down the dark autumn evening at Tulleries garden. A little more than three hours later I was back in the center of London.