Before I start the day, let me get one thing straight: Today’s itinerary was not planned beforehand. The old itinerary was definitely out of the window as some of the attractions scheduled for today had already been done yesterday, and I’m just going to be walking around asking Maps for directions to my next spot.
As usual, starting the day out of Saint-Placide. The weather was bright and sunny, with none of the chill as experienced in London or Lucerne. After a short ride on Line 4, I arrived at Châtelet from where my first attraction of the day, the Centre Pompidou was located.
For me, the main attraction of the Centre Pompidou was its rather unorthodox architecture. It does house a large library as well as a modern art museum, however the Centre only opens its doors at 11am. As I was there a little before 10am, and having no intention of going in, I set out to score some breakfast in the area.
A little shop by the name of Chocolat Rouge happened to catch my eye, being situated on the north side of the Centre Pompidou on Rue Rambuteau. It offered pancakes and sandwiches, though I went for the €6.50 set that includes a sandwich or a panini, plus a drink and a choice between dessert, a pancake or a cup of steaming java. Sounds absolutely confusing, eh?
My choice was a sandwich, couldn’t remember exactly which was it, but I believe it was ham and cheese, with a Coke and a sugar pancake. And I was absolutely stuffed! I did see other customers with the Nutella panini, and it did looked pretty good as well. SInce it was probably still early in the day, the shopkeeper had a little time to chit-chat, and kindly consented to me taking a few snaps of his establishment as well.
With breakfast done and dusted with, I decided to head for the Louvre since it was already 11:25am. My ticket, pre-booked online for €17 was for the 12pm slot. From what I’ve gathered, there’s only a 30-minute leeway for each entry slot, after which you will be denied entry, and the Louvre was quite known for long queues as well. So, best be early and get a move on!
The Hôtel de Ville metro station of Line 1 was just down the street from the Centre Pompidou, and from there it was 3 stop ride to Palais Royal Musée du Louvre. I reckon that you can get off a station early at Louvre-Rivoli too, but this is what I went for myself. Now, the Louvre is pretty much the third largest ‘touristy’ spot in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. The order might be up for debate but the risks associated are not. Pickpockets in the lines, as well as a machete attack on security forces right at the entrance barely a month ago has me quite on edge, I’ll tell you that much.
One of the things that you’ll always need to do on self-guided travel is homework, and that’s always done before the trip itself. Study up on the best way to skip lines, and the Louvre has quite a number of entrances, some with a rotating schedule that dictates on which day the entrance would be open, and some entrances were limited to groups only as well. Let’s see how I waded through this.
I arrived at the Palais Royal Musée du Louvre stop, which through a set of tunnels connect to an underground shopping centre called Le Carrousel du Louvre. That’s where I’ll find my first entrance, past the inverted glass pyramid hanging from the ceiling is the entrance for Le Carrousel du Louvre. However, the lines here were quite long on this particular day, thus I elected to try another entrance.
My second attempt was at the Porte des Lions entrances. Though this was marked as for groups only, it was rumored that occasionally individual ticket holders do get past the doors. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. I was turned away to the iconic Pyramid entrance, which also serves as the main entrance for the Louvre.
Then again, I did look a little out of place, trying to sneak in through Porte des Lions behind a group of school kids.
As I approached the entrance, a staff member made a cursory check of my ticket, then directed me to a much shorter line than the others. I suppose that it was the line for the 12pm slot. Although it was thorough, security was fairly efficient, and in less than 10 minutes I was inside the glass pyramid.
And into the depths of the Louvre we go!