See the "Mona Lisa"
at The Louvre
|No matter how many times you've already been there, the glorious Musee du Louvre never runs short of delights, from the grand and magnificently repurposed palace architecture to the seemingly endless collections of paintings, drawings, sculpture and decorative arts. Given the sheer abundance of exhibits, it's not a bad idea to study the museum web site beforehand, and make some plans about what galleries you most want to see. A note for tennis enthusiasts: In Room 16 on the second floor of the Richelieu wing you'll find a good reason not to gamble on your own prowess with a racket. The canvas titled "Summer", by renowned 17th-century French artist Nicolas Poussin, was one of 25 paintings Armand-Jean, Duke of Richelieu, lost to King Louis XIV in 1665 in a round of jeu de paume -- the French precursor of modern tennis.
Other highlights in the city's long list of extraordinary museums include the Musee d'Orsay, focusing on European art from 1848 through 1914, the Musee National d'Art Moderne at the Pompidou Center, and two marvelous smaller museums devoted to single artists, the Musee Picasso and the Musee Rodin.
When planning your museum outings, remember that many Paris museums, including the Louvre, are closed on Tuesdays, while the Musee d'Orsay and the Musee Rodin are open Tuesdays but closed on Mondays. And if you plan to visit more than a handful of museums, be sure to pick up a Paris Museum Pass, a single card available at all participating venues offering unlimited access to more than 60 museums and other attractions, with no waiting in long ticket lines. As of March 1, 2006, the old one-, three- and five-day passes will be replaced by passes good for two, four or six consecutive days.
The Paris City Passport is another good way to save money on museum admissions and other travel expenses. For 5 € you get a coupon book offering discounts of 10 to 50 percent at 47 selected sites around town, including half-price admission to the tennis museum at Roland-Garros plus discounts on guided tours, river cruises, department store purchase and meals. Available at tourist information centers operated by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, or you can order online.