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Is the Louvre worth it if you are not interested in art?

My husband and I leave for Europe in less than two weeks, and I am trying to map out our days in Paris. He is saying he doesn't want to do any museums...I have been to Paris and the Louvre, but I was only 17, and I don't really remember much about it, as I was more in awe of the boy I was with at the time...lol

My husband feels he doesn't like going to art museums here, why would he there? I can't decide if I should push it, or not worry about it, and enjoy all the other parts of Paris he will love, like the Seine, walking around, and the cathedrals.....

We only have 3 days, so we have to plan what we want to do ahead of time. He also really wants to do Versailles, but with only 3 days, I don't know if I want to take a whole day to do that....

Any suggestions??? Thanks!

Posted by
8939 posts

If you don't feel like going, then don't. We spent 4 days in Paris and didn't go in a single museum or gallery. We also did not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Though we were planning on it, it was only open to the first level, and so we decided we would just come back some day. We did walk through lots of neighborhoods, through the cemeteries, went in the churches, rode a boat, celebrated Bastille day with the French, walked through parks, and went up to the top of Sacre Coure, which gives you a fabulous view of Paris. So, we certainly saw Paris and do not feel like we "missed" anything. Perhaps next time I will do those things, but I just didn't feel like I "had" to.

Posted by
782 posts

With such limited time, why do something your pretty confident won't exite you. If you do decide you want to spend a small amount of time in a museum just go to a smaller art museaum and run through it! The Louvre is tremendous and really not a run through kind of museum. I am going to Paris in July with two young children, and I myself am more in awe of natural beauty (parks, architecture, etc...)& visiting various neighborhoods. I do appreciate impressionist art so we plan to visit the Musee d'Orsay which is much smaller than the Louvre. I'm more interested in the area around Pompidou Center (a modern art museum) than the art in the museum. We will also visit Rodin's gardens, but probably not go inside the Rodin museum. Don't force yourself to do something you won't really appreciate. I think my kids should be exposed to art. If they love it, we'll show them more of it.

Posted by
542 posts

I'd forget the list of "must see sites." This is one more vote for "If you really don't want to do one of those obligatory sites, then don't." Visit things that interest you. This isn't school where you were encouraged to take courses you didn't want because you were young and the curriculum required exposure to a variety of subjects. You're adults and this is your vacation. Besides, in a city like Paris, you will see the works of many artists in their natural settings.

I'm also an advocate of taking the time to do the things you've always wanted to do. If his only request out of three days in Paris is Versailles, then I'd include it in the plans.

Posted by
693 posts

Sandi, you don't need an entire day to visit Versailles. You can do it in less than a morning if you leave Paris early. I took an organized tour, so the tickets were all arranged and there was no waiting in line. But if you go really early it wont be so crowded yet, even without a tour. Have fun!

Posted by
9099 posts

Before my first trip to Europe, I had zero interest in art. Didn't know anything about, never even took an art history class in college. My first trip to Europe was to see a soccer match at the brand new Amsterdam Arena in 1997. I had no plans to visit any of the city's art museums, but I happened to be walking by the Rijks Museum, and figured what the hell let me see what all the fuss is about. Long story short, I'm now an art lover. I now plan entire vacations around art exhibits, museums, and galleries. Had someone told me I would be so into it 13 years ago, I would have laughed.
Part of travel is to experience new things, be it art, food, music, sport, or relating to the locals.

I say give the Louvre another chance. It's entirely possible you may not enjoy your visit, and if that's the case, there is no crime in leaving after 15 minutes of boredom. But who knows maybe it will change your life???????

Posted by
12040 posts

This is why I hate the term "must-see". Ignore the herd, see what interests you and your husband. Just because something is famous doesn't mean everyone will enjoy it.

Posted by
964 posts

We visited the Louvre recently and loved it, but then we really wanted to go there. It's so big we decided specifically what we wanted to see and it took several hours, but not all day.

Maybe you and your husband could agree to go your seperate ways for a few hours? We did that one day because my OH wanted to visit Napoleon's tomb and I wanted to go to the shops (Galleries Lafayette is amazing). We both enjoyed ourselves and had lots to talk about when we met up later.

Posted by
2297 posts

Have you looked at an overview of what is all on display at the Louvre? Your husband may not be interested in joining the crowds in front of the Mona Lisa. But maybe he's more into Greek and Roman antiquities? My husband travels to Paris on business frequently and yesterday he spent half a day only in that small section (with an excellent audio guide) as he's gotten tired of all the art work he's seen already in a number of European museums.

That said, if you only have 3 days in Paris there are plenty of other sites that may interest you much more. There is no way to see all of it in that short of a time. So pick and choose what's on YOUR priority list.

Posted by
11507 posts

Look, I love the Louvre and go everytime I can,, but I would never advise someone with only 3 days to go there if they think it would be a waste of time.

I think going to Versailles is not a bad idea,, since you do not like going to museums that does free up for other sites.

I do think since you are going to Versailles that you really should take the time to see all of it,, you will probaly like wandering the grounds, and don't miss walking through Marie Antionettes Hamlet,, its easy to take the train there 35-45 minutes, and less then 6 euros return fare. Buy the tickets online at the Versailles website to save time waiting in line, or buy and use the Musuem Pass. The MP is good at other sites then just museums, its good at Arc De Triomphe( which has great views from top) and at the Towers at Notre Dame( but you can't skip the line there) , and at St Chapelle( totally worth seeing, and you can skip lines there with it. Get the two day pass and it might even be a good deal for you.

Good luck. Remember, this is your trip, do what you want.

Posted by
5678 posts

I guess your husband never took that Art Appreciation course? ; ) I could feel our art author's frustration as I read your post. That said the others are right if you only have limited time then he shouldn't take time to do things he doesn't like. But do you like art? Maybe you can split up for an hour or two. When I was last in Paris I went to Musee d'Orsay and the Van Gogh blew me away. It was the sheer color that was astounding and just doesn't get replicated in books. The building was pretty cool to. It's much smaller than the Louvre and might give you a taste of art in this city that has attracted artists for years. Check out the website. http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html You can see the Van Gogh that I'm talking about here. http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting/commentaire_id/the-church-in-auvers-sur-oise-7170.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=841&cHash=41a41feee6 But this is pale imitation of what I saw. Pam

Posted by
10344 posts

Like Michael (above post), your husband might just be surprised to admit he enjoys the Orsay museum, the Impressionist museum just across the river (Seine) from the Louvre.

This is the museum for people who think they don't like art.

Important: Lead him immediately up the big escalator to the upper level, don't start him on the ground level. I predict he'll like what he sees. And the Orsay doesn't take that long, especially if you start on the upper level. He might even want to see the middle level after that, the sculptures, etc.

But it's a shame you will have to miss the Louvre, one of the world's great museums. Maybe you can suggest he go do something else while you take Rick's 2-hour audio tour of the Louvre. You'd like to think a person could be a little nore flexible, on a trip like this...oh well.

Posted by
1819 posts

If your husband enjoys cathedrals, he would probably enjoy the Cluny museum which has lots of medieval art, including original pieces from Notre Dame, and of course the famous unicorn tapestries. If you want over the top gilt decor and don't have time for Versailles, visit the Opera Garnier (English speaking tours on Wednesday afternoons last year). The tour was fascinating, even though we are not opera fans. The Carnevalet (spelling?) museum in the Marais might also be interesting---focus is on French history, not on art.

Posted by
360 posts

He wants to see Versailles but not the Louvre. Remind him that the Louvre is a palace too. Personally, I visit the Louvre mostly for the building itself. If you decide to go, try going late afternoon as I hear it's less crowded so that you can actually see the architecture. He may enjoy seeing the remains of the medieval foundations below the Cour Caree. I especially love the views of & from the staircases & it doesn't take an art lover to get a chill from your first view of the Winged Victory from the bottom of the staircase.

Posted by
800 posts

Ditto Kent's suggestion of the Musee d Orsay instead of the Louvre. I do like art but even I find the Louvre VERY overwhelming and, really, not nearly as satisfying as the Orsay. If he doesn't like art museums he may REALLY hate the Louvre due to its size, crowds, etc. The Orsay, on the other hand, is so manageable and the Impressionist pieces are so familiar and so wonderful. Or just skip both of them and do the other stuff - Versailles is well worth a trip!

Posted by
11507 posts

You know, I didn't address this, but I do feel strongly about this one point.. if YOU like the Louvre then you darn well should visit it,, you are NOT joined at hip. Hubby can walk you to Louvre courtyard ,, and arrange to meet you back at same point in 2 o r 3 hours. YOu are not required to do only what your husband enjoys to ensure his happiness at the price of yours!!

I cannot understand couples who cannot seperate for 2 hours,, you are both grown ups right??

If you do not care if you see Louvre,, fine,,) but , if you decide not to see it to appease him,, then that is a REAL SHAME..

I have been married for 20 yrs now,, so I am not just flinging this off the cuff.

Posted by
445 posts

I agree with the suggestion for visiting the Musee D'Orsay. What is really interesting about it is that it is a former railroad station and it is interesting
to really look at it in terms of it being a station.
Perhaps that would be of interest to your husband.

It aalso was used after WWII as a place of repatriation for returning soldiers and POWS. So in addition to all the wonderful Impressionists, there is lots of history there. You can also get wonderful views of Paris all the way to Sacare Coeur from the top level. It is unlike any other museum I have ever been to. But don't try going there without a museum pass as the lines can be horrific.
AS Pat said, the Museum Pass can get you to other interesting places, saving you time and your husband's possible impatience!!!(why are husbands always so impatient?????)

Posted by
10214 posts

Sandi, I have to agree with Pat that if the Louvre is something YOU would really like to do, you should go. If your husband can't spare a few hours doing something that is important to you, he can do something else for that time and meet up with you. I'm sure you have done plenty of things for him that don't interest you. How often are you in Paris???

FYI - I have been married 24 years and I would do exactly what I have suggested to you!

Have a fantastic trip!

Posted by
1806 posts

It would be great if every tourist that has zero interest in art goes with their gut instinct and skips the museum completely. Don't go just because it's listed as a "must-see" in some guidebook or travel magazine. It makes the line much shorter for the rest of us.

If you really want to see the Louvre and he doesn't, go see it on your own. FYI: It is open until 10PM every Wednesday and Friday night, so you may still have time to squeeze in a couple hours after sightseeing with him for most of the day. But you'll only be able to fit in a few highlights on your visit as it's far too large to just breeze through in 2 hours.

If it's raining, your husband is not going to want to see Versailles where half the fun is walking the grounds and the rest is looking at (ironically) art and antique furniture. Personally, I think Versailles deserves a full day on its own, but your time in Paris is short.

Posted by
103 posts

Wow! I am impressed with the amount of feedback.....

I haven't given up on the Louvre, or Versailles.....I think we will just go with what we decide to do once in Paris. I am not worried at all...afterall we are in Paris!

I am such a planner, that I usually plan our vacations to the minute, but I really just think we may "go with the flow" in Paris....

Thank you so much for all your suggestions...I really am considering many of them! Orsay sounds great, as well as just me going to the Louvre....my husband would be content to sit at a cafe for a few hours without me...

Thanks again!!

Posted by
4555 posts

Sandi....I might also add that the Louvre is much more than just an "art" museum, full of paintings and sculptures. If he has any interest at all in ancient civilizations, the Louvre has wonderful collections of pottery, masks, ceramics, and the like, uncovered from archaeological sites from the first human settlements between the Tigris and Euphrates River some 10,000 years ago, through the Akkadian, Babylonian, Phoenecian, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman eras. For example, the emergence of writing from the empire of Sumer is well-represented and explained well. You don't need to concentrate on just "art" at the Louvre.

Posted by
26 posts

I recommend browsing through a really good art history book, with good pictures, and see if that perks your interest any. I'm not really interested in most of the US museums either, but the art over there is a different story. There are also these travel guides DK Eyewitness that have great pictures of some of the highlights in the different museums. You could thumb through those next time you're in a bookstore. They give you a little history too... and according to Rick that makes the art more interesting (and I agree). I think the biggest problems with the museum in Europe is spending hours waiting in line (the last thing you want to do with your precious time). If you go, either use Rick's tips for avoiding the lines (reservations and passes) or go to less crowded, touristy museums (for example L'Orangerie in Paris instead of Louvre). And skip the guided audio tour - I've tried to use those and been put to sleep. I'd rather go at my own pace, spend more time at the stuff I really like and breeze past the stuff I don't. One more thing that helps is museums that have more than just paintings. Or go to a palace that has paintings as well as period furniture, rugs, plumbing, and other interesting stuff. But please don't think the art over there is just like the art over here - at the risk of offending someone (I'm sorry) ours just isn't the calibre of a lot of the art in Europe.

Posted by
46 posts

One of the best agreements we made during our Germany/Austria vacation (4 of us) last year was that all of us did not have to do everything together. If someone wanted to see something they did not have to drag a non-interested person with them. No arguements, no guilt, no regrets.

Posted by
62 posts

Something I haven't seen mentioned yet is that there is a nice exhibit on the history of the Louvre as a castle/palace, including a walk around some of the original foundations. Additionally, there's the Napoleon III apartments which he might enjoy if he wants to see Versailles. I also agree that collections of ancient art and artifacts can be wonderful, even if you're not an art person.

Posted by
335 posts

Sandi, One more person's opinion, among many:

I've visited Paris 5 times now but this last trip was my first visit to the Louvre - I've avoided it since I prefer the Impressionists (I always visit the D'Orsay, the Orangerie and the Marmottan for my Impressionist "fix"). But this trip I did the 2-hour walking tour of the Louvre offered by Paris Walks. That way I saw the highlights but didn't spend a whole day wandering around. Maybe you could do that while he people watches at a cafe.

As for Versailles - it took us an entire (rainy) day to see the chateau, gardens (with fountains and music), the Trianons and the Hamlet. I bought the Versailles LePassport at an FNAC store (like Best Buy) in Paris and took the 8 am RER train out to Versailles (5.8 euro round trip, 1/2 hour+ time). Go very early (arrive before the chateau opens at 9 am) and you'll miss the crowds, or at least be ahead of them. We had dinner at a restaurant just across from the Versailles train station (and next to the Starbucks) - very nice onion soup!

But I also agree with others - if neither of these things interest you - do what you want. Or do nothing. Just wander and sit and watch and eat and have a great time!

Posted by
1806 posts

Heather: While visiting the Art Institute of Chicago a few weeks ago, I saw large groups of European and Asian tourists crowding in front of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks". While not painted by one of the European masters, and each painting being less than 100 years old, both of these have achieved the same iconic status worldwide as the Mona Lisa.

While in Paris I saw crowds in front of "Whistler's Mother", and similar groups of people hovering around the works of Jackson Pollack at the Tate Modern in London.

Key pieces of European art by Van Gogh, Picasso, Rodin and others are on display here in the U.S. and can't be seen in Europe unless they are out on a special loan.

I don't find your comment offensive in any way, but it just seems like an odd statement to say that someone shouldn't compare American art or U.S. museums to European ones because its not of the same caliber. And especially odd that you are from Washington which houses the museums of The Smithsonian, some of the most visited museums in the world.

Posted by
586 posts

I agree with much of what's been said here, but simply wanted to offer two thoughts:

  1. The Art Institute of Chicago, with its new 240,000 square foot Modern Wing, is the second largest art museum in the United States, second only to the Met in NYC. While I think Heather makes a fair point--to us Yanks, Europe just FEELS so sophisticated--it's just not accurate to say art here doesn't measure up. The Art Institute, for instance, has Picasso's "Old Man with Guitar" and Munch's "Scream" and El Greco's "The Assumption of Mary," just to name a few...all masterpieces by master European painters. It's a global world!

  2. I say, Sandi, you should devote one measily hour, maybe 90 minutes, just focusing on 10 works that look interesting to you. If you don't enjoy it, you've wasted very little time--but at least this accounts for the possibility that you MAY be pleasantly surprised! (;

Posted by
2349 posts

Gio & Ceidleih-If you've sign "Night at the Museum" set at the Smithsonian, I'm sure you both noticed that the movie shows both Nighthawks and American Gothic as being in D.C. Not!

Posted by
5678 posts

I too have to come to the defense of the Art Institute of Chicago. I grew up with the Art Institute and it is my personal standard for art museum. Our art appreciation editor just told me this month that having the AIC as my standard perhaps a bit rigorous and that few museums in the world can measure up to it. This conversation was in reference to a recent experience at the Getty in LA, which was wonderful, but the collection is not as large as the AIC.

Posted by
26 posts

I apologize if people feel I jumped to conclusions. I haven't had the pleasure of going to a Chicago museum yet but I have been to many in the US. One of my favorite museum experiences ever, including my time in Europe, was seeing the Frederic Remingtons in Kansas City. And of course a lot of the European artists have works here. But I didn't want the poster to decide the European museums aren't worth bothering with just because art in the museums over here was less than thrilling for them. I still don't feel you will necessarily have the "same" experience over there and I wanted the poster to at least give the museums over there a chance. And also, if I were a European tourist visiting the US I think my priority in the US would be American painters, as part of the cultural immersion of visiting here. But point well taken I certainly haven't visited every museum in the US and there's plenty of great art over here. Most of my most memorable museum experiences are still in Europe, however.

Posted by
586 posts

Hey, Heather--no, I didn't think you said anything at all offensive! I also think there is a valid point you make, too: when one is abroad, there is a level of excitement, perhaps a heightened appreciation even, for places like the Prado in Madrid and the Accademia in Florence. I visit the Art Institute, locally, often, and even though some of the art is just as valuable and unique and moving, the locale is so common to me, that it can't match the excitement of the places we visit in Europe. To me, though, it's not really related to the quality of the art...but to the excitement of exploring new places, and seeing art in situ, where it was made and intended to be dislayed.

Posted by
421 posts

if you are not into art then I think the louvre is a bit overwelming. First trip we did not do it and I love art, partner not so much. Second trip we did it but did it for key pieces.
I suggest instead of the louvre consider D'orsay, its a beautiful building, easy to do. Also the Rodin again, small and easy to do. If you like modern art do the George Pompidou as it is a very cool building and a great place if you like modern art.

Since you only have three days and are planning on Versaille which I LOVED, I suggest skip the louvre and do D'orsay

Posted by
284 posts

Sandi,

You could get your fix at the Barnes Foundation near Philadelphia and have more time to explore Paris by skipping the d'Orsay.

Edwin

Posted by
7 posts

Here is my suggestion:
Go on a "treasure hunt." Research the artworks you REALLY want to see (ex: Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, "Liberty Leading the People", "Raft of the Medusa", "the Bather", etc.) Then stick to the list... Especially for people who don't want to spend all day there, it makes it fun and you spend more time with the pieces you would appreciate more! There are also discounted time to go later in the evening!
I think it's worth it!

Posted by
189 posts

Sandi, my wife and I always enjoy the Orsay museum better than the Louvre. Dorsey

Posted by
15581 posts

I am just back from a visit to Paris. I love museums. I love the impressionists. I love Paris. Here are a few observations:

The Orsay is great if you really really want to see the art there. Otherwise skip it, because the crowds are overwhelming.

The Louvre website has self-guided tours. One of them is a walk through the museum as a building, detailing its history. The tour does take you past almost all the "highlights." Of course you can stop to admire any of the works on display, but you see the Louvre differently. It took me about 2 hours, I started at 7.30 in the evening, and there were no crowds at the "highlights" - in fact, only about 20 people in the "Mona Lisa Room."

If all the art museums in Paris were closed, I could still spend a couple of weeks there enjoying every minute.

Paris has some excellent museums that are not devoted to art. And so much more.

Posted by
103 posts

Update...

We are now in Switzerland, after having been in France for 4 days...We had great weather, and a wonderful time....

We walked Paris for two days straight...and loved it! We never set foot inside a museum, and don't feel the least bit deprived. We did go into Notre Dame, and went up the Arc du Triomphe. We also did a Seine River cruise, but not a dinner one, and it was fantastic. It was not one of the big companies, just a little boat, not crowded at all...

We did go to Versailles, but found it soooo crowded. We walked over to Marie Antoinette's, and spent much more time in that part of Versailles, which we really loved, and it was almost empty!

Paris was great, but very busy, and very crowded. My husband does not like crowds at all, so walking every where and avoiding the museums made for a great trip.

Thanks so much to everyone who had suggestions....Sandi