I was fortunate enough that my second day in Paris was a Sunday and personally, I think that all Sundays are just awesome! But a Sunday in Paris? Absolutely priceless. I should note that it was also Mother’s Day which made the day all the more special and it was just the perfect day to check a couple Paris Bucket list items. Aside from the Eiffel Tower, one thing you have to see when in the city of love is The Louvre. But before I get into that, I have to say something about what I am wearing… this is after all, still predominantly a fashion blog. When I was packing for the three week Europe trip, I assigned in advance what I was to wear in Paris. Aside from being dubbed the most romantic city in the world, Paris is also known as the epicenter of fashion with a couple of the world’s foremost fashion designers calling it home. It houses the headquarters of my most favorite brands- Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hermes, Lanvin and Chloe (to name a few). So what does a girl exactly wear to the birthplace of haute couture? The pressure was intense. I actually was very flexible for my wardrobe during the trip except for the ensembles and outfits I pre-selected for Paris and for this day, I decided to start off my adventures in style. Nothing spells Parisian chic more than the classic and iconic Breton stripes. Typically characterized as a cotton top with sailor-like stripes, the style was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for the French navy until Coco Chanel took notice and made it into the wardrobe staple that it is today.
While I was picking out what to wear, I thought that if it was good enough for Jane Birkin, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot, it was definitely a great choice so I donned an off-shoulder cotton striped top from Zara and paired it with a pleated midi skirt since I wanted to look more feminine and girly without being too over the top or gimmicky. Thankfully, the weather was lovely that day even if weather forecasts predicted rain so I was happy to be able to leave my coat behind even if I did originally plan wearing this with a pink oversized lapel coat. To pay tribute to two of my favorite designers, I decided to wear it with leather ballet flats that I got from Lanvin (which are so comfortable) and my snakeskin Chanel Le Boy bag. To finish off the look, I accessorized with South Sea pearls. Borrowing a line from another fashion icon, Jackie O, “Pearls are always appropriate” and I have to give credit to Charm who reminded me of this as I was picking out accessories to complete the look.
Now that I finished talking about my outfit, allow me to now move on to the sight-seeing of the day. The first in the agenda was a visit to the Louvre and as an art enthusiast, I was thrilled to visit the greatest museum in the world even if I knew that day wasn’t enough to see everything and to bask in the important art and artifacts it housed. To immerse yourself in the Louvre and everything it has is impossible for one trip to Paris. It has about four hundred rooms and countless works dating back from 8000 BC… so you get the picture. I was happy to get to see it even for a short while but I do think that another visit on my next trip is inevitable because going through so much of the displays was so overwhelming.
Originally a fortress built to secure the capital of France, the Louvre was opened as a museum in 1793 and from then expanded into so many different departments. It has displays ranging from Near Eastern Antiquities, Islamic Art, Egyptian, Greek and Roman Antiquities, a wide collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and graphic arts. Of course for such a short visit, I had to prioritize and I just knew I had to see the painting collection and display more than anything. Hint: Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It was beautiful although I took appreciation of other less-popular artwork and found myself being drawn to the work of Jacques Louis David with my favorite being this massive historical piece depicting the Coronation of Napoleon I in Notre Dame. I think that David is a genius and there was just so much detail in the artwork that I felt like I was walking inside the painting and present in the scene as depicted. Another notable piece not to miss is the sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace which literally made my jaw drop.
Anyway, if you are planning to visit the Louvre in the future, here are some tips that might come in handy:
(1) Avoid peak hours. The Louvre opens at 9 am and closes at 10 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. To avoid the crowds, go very early or at around 6 pm when tour groups and school groups are few.
(2) Make a game plan. Do not just wander aimlessly at the Louvre unless you plan on getting lost as it is big- very big. Research in advance for which pieces you want to see and know where to locate it and plan your route accordingly. If you don’t, you will find yourself lost.
(3) Reserve your energy for the three must-see works of art. A visit to the Louvre is not a visit unless you see the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. There are just so many works on display at the Louvre and it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed and over-saturated so save your energy for these three main highlights.
(4) Shell out for an audio guide. Most explanations in the work is in French and unless you speak the language, understanding more about the art on display in your language is a must.
(5) Buy your ticket in advance. I can not emphasize this enough. There are long queues to the museum in its two main entrances. Pre-booking your ticket saves you the hassle of having to wait for a very long time.
(6) Appreciate the art. It is a museum, first and foremost and as much as possible, immerse yourself with the display. Taking some photos of some of the distinctive works that appeal to you for remembrance is encouraged. However, I will never understand why people decide to take selfies with some of the paintings (a lot of people do this with the Mona Lisa) and it puzzles me still to this day what the appeal of that is. Also, do not play Pokemon Go in the museum for crying out loud. (I am all for the AR game but not in a place as grand and majestic as the Louvre!)
I hope my tips come in handy for a future visit. Anyway, here are some photos documenting how I spent the rest of the day! Since it was a Sunday, I heard mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral which was followed by a very late lunch (I was still on Spanish meal time) at this quaint restaurant serving authentic French food called Le Petit Chatelet which was a few meters walk from the cathedral. The restaurant has hospitable and accommodating staff, magnificent food and a great selection of wine and it is located beside Shakespeare and Company, the most famous bookshop in Paris. I highly suggest that you visit it especially if you love literature. After that, we walked along the Seine and then spent the rest of the day in Champs Elysées for some much needed retail therapy. Looking back, it was one of the most perfect and magical Sundays of my life!
Until the next post!