Museum Mayhem: Taking Kids to the Louvre

Inside the Louvre Museum

It was still our third day in Paris. My mood had traveled from elation after seeing Monet’s Waterlilies alone, to despair once I returned home and heard about the knock on the apartment door. After getting the kids outside to play in the rain, Aaron and I came up with a plan: exhaust the kids. Our first stop was the Louvre.

While walking to the Louvre,  we noticed street vendors  selling hot chestnuts and umbrellas to the hordes of wet tourists migrating in the same direction. I expected that today the most popular museum in Paris would be a bit busy.

Before we attacked the Louvre, we headed towards Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping center next to the Louvre that also serves a quick lunch. During our descent on the escalator, I heard a familiar panicked laugh. I looked over my shoulder and saw Ethan stuck at the top, blocking a wave of people behind him.  A young man gave him a gentle pat on the head, took his hand, and helped him on. It was the first of many times we experienced the kindness of strangers.  (And the first of many times that we almost lost Ethan in Paris.)

At first glance, the food court looks like something you’d find in an American Mall. But on a second glance, it’s not junk fast food, but a smattering of (overpriced) cuisine from around the world, all steaming hot and looking delicious. While tempted by the Moroccan couscous, I wasn’t tempted to stand in the long line. Instead we chose typical French sandwiches, and crammed into the last available table. Elbow to elbow with our neighbors, the room was muggy from wet jackets and hot bodies.

There are several entrances into the museum. The main one (and most obvious) is through the huge glass pyramid. There’s a second entrance in the underground shopping center, and next to the inverted glass pyramid.

But! If you have a Paris Museum Pass, you can enter through the “Passage Richelieu.” You skip the security line and ticket lines, and you avoid  this:

Crowd in Louvre

My goal when taking kids to museums was to engage them in the art. We learned about what we’d see in the Louvre before we left home, and once in the museum I played two different games: Hunt the Mummy and I-spy.

In the Egyptian room, I told them we needed to find a mummy. At first, they focused only on the mummy search, but while searching, they became distracted and interested in the vases and other artifacts. We never found the mummy (I don’t think the museum has one) but we did navigate through our first room while keeping both parents and kids content.

In the room with Greek and Roman Antiquities, we played I-Spy.  I started with “I spy with my little eye, a statue of a man.” They found it, and then Ada chimed in: “I spy with my little eye a naked butt.” Since they were surrounded by larger-than-life  marble derrieres, that was an easy one.  Once the giggling stopped, Ethan took a turn: “I spy with my little eye a floating baby head.”

Kids in the Louvre

In the Italian Renaissance room, they remembered some paintings from the books we flipped through at home. Other paintings, honestly, how could they not capture a child’s attention:

Kids in the Louvre

We meandered through a few more rooms, before Ada asked to see the Mona Lisa. To find her, we simply followed the crowds.

I knew this room would be packed, and I was right.

This is what we saw:

Crowds and Mona Lisa

Can’t find her? Neither could we.

How’s this?

Mona Lisa and crowds 2

The only thing the kids saw was a swarm of human derrieres.  I zipped around to the side of the crowd, squeezed up front, and picked up the kids to give them each a good look at the painting. Ada was thrilled. She asked if we could buy a bookmark so that we wouldn’t have to come back to Paris to visit her. And if we could buy another bookmark for her teacher. Excellent idea and we did.

After two hours, the kids feet began to drag, and Ethan kept sitting whenever he saw a chair.

Exhausted boy in the Louvre

After we left the museum, the adults sipped coffee and the kids munched on  sugary treats at a cafe.  Our goal was met: we saw the Louvre, spent kid energy, and not a peep of discontent from kids or adults. I was utterly impressed with their behavior and savored that they enjoyed the experience.  Now it was time for their reward, and to end our third day in Paris within the jungles of  the famous Parisian parks.