I love the Louvre. When I was in Paris, I joined Les Amis du Louvre, which is a must for anyone who spends time in the great city. And such a bargain, because for a 60-euro annual membership, it gives you unlimited access to the museum (through the Richelieu entrance away from the tourist entrance at the Pyramide) , regular bulletins, other discounts. And that opens the door for so much more.
But, horror of horrors -- how did I use it most? Well, when the weather was bad and I wanted to get my morning constitutional in, I simply slipped into the hallowed halls and walked for an hour. Boy, I caught a lot of grief from art lovers when I told them this. Mall-walking in the Louvre? How crass! But I still contend that it's a lot better than mall-walking in a mall. Hey, I got cultural edification. I was always fashionably attired, and didn't power-walk or elbow unsuspecting camera-toting tourists out of the way or anything. Just cruised through as many galleries as I could, absorbing the magnificence of it all, got 100% lost every time, eventually found my way out. Good old Yankee efficiency. Heck, lots of my U.S. pals pound the treadmill while watching CNN for their exercise, and I challenge any of them to say they are better off than I was scrambling along the echoing halls of the Louvre.
Besides (okay, this is really my little secret) if you have unlimited admission to the Louvre and you happened to be in the neighborhood and need a leetle pipibreak, well, you breeze right on in and use the facilities. Not many other places in the quartier where you have such nice powder rooms. So if you are an Ami of the Louvre, it's like having your own private club to pop in to.
Call me a cultural heretic -- go ahead -- but I paid my dues. For three years. I encourage all to do the same.
On the other hand, when I had friends visiting me in Paris who had only 4-5 days to see as much of the city as possible, I beggggged them to not spend it at the Louvre. Others agree with me.
Why? Well, there is so much of Paris to see, and we all know what those hours-long snaking lines are like to enter into the Louvre. And shuffling through to see La Joconde, the Plymouth Rock of Paree. No, when I had company in Paris I let them stop outside for exterior photo ops of the Louvre, then we breezed on our way for a fabulous walking tour of the rest of the city.
The Louvre is too brilliant a place to be reduced to a cultural sound-bite if you're in Paris for only a short stay. If you have really deep pockets you can join the American Friends of the Louvre and get invited to some extravagant behind-the-scenes visits. Or join Les Amis du Louvre and have the museum be your home away from home. But no point in doing the Six-Minute Louvre when you have limited time in the most beautiful city in the world.