Today was New Year’s Eve and thus our last day to visit the Louvre Museum since all museums close for New Year’s Day. I’ve visited the Louvre about 3-4 times before, but the last time was maybe 5-6 years ago, so I was definitely up for another visit.
Today being Wednesday would normally have meant evening opening hours, but unfortunately, New Year’s Eve trumps Wednesdays so the museum actually closed an hour earlier today. With so much to see and way too little time to cram everything in, I decided to run through the Louvre Masterpieces tour first, before going back to see what else I could fit in before closing time. Why? Because this was my companion’s first visit to the Louvre and we had to ensure the basics were covered. 🙂
The entrance queues were a little haphazard, with lines of tourists everywhere leading to different entrances. After a much shorter wait compared to yesterday’s Versailles debacle, we were soon at the famous Louvre glass pyramid entrance.
Being on a budget (I’m currently trying to get a start-up running and am thus in savings mode!), I didn’t want to pay extra for one of the guided museum tours. I decided to take the cheaper option instead, by downloading the official Louvre Museum smartphone app, which includes a self-guided tour of the museum. It’s not all that bad for £1.49, giving me just the right amount of information that I wanted for the key pieces of art on display.
We walked through the museum at our own pace, ticking off the “must-sees” one by one, from sculptures and the Venus de Milo, to paintings and the Mona Lisa, as well as squeezing in some of the older, less well-known art pieces like The Seated Scribe and the Dagger from Gebel el-Arak.
We finished our museum visit at the Napoleon III Apartments, a section of the museum I have never visited before. The large drawing room (a space large enough to fit 200 people) was the picture of opulence and no photo of mine could portray the rich, golden furnishings I saw so I’m not even going to try!
It seemed to us that we were one of the last people to leave the museum, and I had a fleeting thought about how easy it might be to hide myself somewhere until the museum was fully shut before emerging and having the museum to myself. 😉 We were unfortunately shooed out by some ushers before my thoughts were fully formed and found ourselves out on cold Paris streets again.
Uncertain as to what we wanted to do to ring in the New Year (stay in? Hang out with the crowds at Champs-Elysees? Or get the best view of Paris from Montmarte?) we dilly-dallied for a bit around the area before finally committing to check out Pigalle and Montmarte to see what the scene was like there. After a fairly early dinner of steak-frites and beer at a small bar oozing student vibes, we walked some of it off by heading uphill towards Sacré-Cœur (or The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris).
We weren’t the only ones with this idea, and there was a small crowd of locals and tourists alike, chilling by the steps of the basilica. A small group had brought a guitar and were strumming and singing some folksy tunes which was much more my thing compared to what would’ve been crazy crowds amongst busy christmas market stalls, had we decided to brave the Champs-Elysees instead.
With not much to do, we headed into the Sacré-Cœur, sitting in one of the pews to warm up whilst marvelling at the interior and trying to figure out how the masons of old would’ve gone about building such a grand structure during the late 1800’s. If you’ve wondered the same, I’d like to recommend Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth book to you as a great read with this theme.
A whole day spent on our feet meant that we were pretty tired by this point and so, decided that what we really wanted to do was to head back to our apartment and ring in the New Year with comfy socks and a hot mug of tea (woo, crazy party animals, I know!). Walking down back through Montmarte, we stopped off for some freshly made Nutella crepes before zipping back to watch cheesy French countdown TV programmes and the fireworks from the comfort and warmth of the flat.
Happy New Year (umm almost 4 weeks too late…)!
We were heading back to London on the Eurostar this evening so this was just a chilled, wind-down day for us. We started by checking out the inaugural New Year’s Day parade at the Champs Elysees, before walking towards the nearby area of Invalides, following the crowds.
Central Paris was looking amazing in the mid-afternoon light, on this chilly but sunny day as we passed by the Grand Palais and Petit Palais.
Taking our last view of the Seine for this Paris trip, we headed towards Rue de Rivoli for our last stop – the world famous French institution known as Angelina’s. The queues (both for takeaway and sit-down) were ridiculously long as usual, but with time to spare, we decided that we really couldn’t leave Paris without tasting their speciality hot chocolate and Mont-Blanc desserts. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
The wait was worth it, although it did make us hungrier and greedier than usual and we ended up ordering one too many pastries (the hot chocolate alone could’ve been a meal!).
Sweet feast over, it was time to pick up our luggage and head to Gare du Nord for our evening train back to London. Whilst it’s been a good 5 day trip where we managed to cover a lot of things on our list, I am done with winter in Paris and would now be keen to revisit in spring / summer to see the lovely gardens in full-bloom. 🙂 Let’s see, maybe it’ll happen this year!