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The Louvre and Musee D'Orsay Must-Sees

Old Jun 11th, 2011, 07:22 PM
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The Louvre and Musee D'Orsay Must-Sees

My family has been planning our trip to Europe this summer for quite some time and now we are planning some of the finer details. Once again, I turn to this forum for help

We will be spending a half day in each of the museums. I realize this is too short of time, but alas it is what we have. We will have to make due.

Does anyone know of a planned walk through either museum that lasts a few hours?

Or, does anyone have any favorites they'd like to suggest?

We have 3 sons (13, 11, and 8). They like museums - no worries there. It's my husband I'm worried about...

Thank you for any ideas or links!!
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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I think you need to look at the websites for both museums and see what the offerings are. What I might want to see at both museums might not be what you want to see. You need to do your own research and figure out what appeals to you.
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 08:01 PM
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D'Orsay has a great guided tour in English that highlights certain art pieces. Lots of interesting information and a good variety of art work housed there.
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 09:04 PM
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StCirq gives you good advice.

And as catcrazyaf says, you can get an audio guide to the Musee d'Orsay, but do be prepared - that museum is currently being renovated, so much of the collection has been re-positioned and the exhibitions are not as complete as usual. I was just there, but didn't use the audio guide as I've been there before. Even if more limited than usual, it is still an amazing museum. Although you could easily spend days there, I think a half-day will give you a good introduction to this museum and you can probably gauge your time reasonably well by consulting the plan to the museum.

There is also an audio-guide for the Louvre; I believe it is intended to cover that museum's highlights in about 1.5 hours. Again, I opted not to use it, but I read good reviews of it. With a museum as vast as the Louvre and with a 1/2 day timeframe, you might be able to do the audio tour and either some of the other things around the highlights or the audio tour and one (or part of one) specific collection, but I can't guarantee either - it would depend on your pace and how crowded the various halls are while you are there.

With museums as amazing as these, I try to decide in advance what my highest priority is and then to think of anything else I see as icing on a very rich cake.

I hope you and your family enjoy your trip!
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 09:07 PM
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Depends upon how you would answer this question. How do you Do you have an artist or group of artists that you have a craving to see? How do you really feel about art?

I agree with StCirq.

Art is personal, if I only had a day I might be tempted to spend 1/2 at the D'Orsay and 1/2 at the Pompidou. Even though I loved the Louvre.

What movement do you love? Take your husband and boys to see what you love and tell them about those artists.
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 09:13 PM
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I would suggest the English tour at the Louvre. It is really so big and so much to see that taking the tour gets you to some of the more significant pieces and you can always go back to see things you walked past but didn't get to see. I've done both audio tours and they are good also. But, I did enjoy the guided tour at the Louvre, our guide was kind of pompous and I found it a funny part of the memory of that day. Before he took us to the Mona Lisa, he said something like "and now we will go to see the woman that everyone feels they must see. I think it is not such an important piece of art. I will not discuss her. I will be at the painting she faces and discuss that art which I feel is much more important." Have fun in Paris!
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Old Jun 11th, 2011, 10:40 PM
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Rick Steves has self-guided tours of both museums in his Paris books.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 03:15 AM
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If you possibly can engage Michael Osman for at least one day to take you to the museums. I cannot speak highly enough of this man for that--he will charm ALL of you and make the museum experience so much more than you can do any other way. He is VERY reasonable. He will design your touring as you want to see. When I engaged him for our family trip I was also very concerned about one of our group--that person in particular wanted him to go with us for another day. His "tour" of the Louvre (not my fave) and Orsay were revelatory in many ways. He is an artist himself. Great sense of humor, sense of "story telling" for touring, teaching for children.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 03:19 AM
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Alternately, I suggest getting the Green Guide to Paris and looking at the sections about the Louvre and Orsay. THEN I would also involve the children and your husband in what you want to see.
The actual "space/museum" of the Orsay is stunning to see. I am particularly drawn to the Impressionist 3rd floor. The basement of the Louvre where you can see how it was constructed might be very interesting to your children. Also, with the Louvre, if you choose a wing to see from the Guide, be sure to choose a "backup" because not all wings are open every day.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 03:27 AM
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Yes, the tours that you can get of the museums are very useful, but beware what may happen at the end if you have a tight time-table - it's very easy to get lost.

We could not find our way out of the Louvre at all - it took us about 45 minutes, even with asking people as we went along. I would suggest doing a Theseus and taking along some string [or breadcrumbs alla Handsel and Gretel] but the staff might object.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 07:17 AM
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You can go to the Louvre web site and print out the floor plans and get an idea of what is where to make your time there more efficient. Since the Louvre is build in 3 wings it's sometimes difficult/time consuming to move from area to area.

I once did the Louvre audio and was very disappointed in what they covered. Most of the artwork that was covered on the audio was not what I wanted to see. I thought it was a waste of money.

In a local library I found a book called "The Louvre for people in a hurry" or some title like that and it was very helpful. I copied the info I wanted and took it with me. Be aware that things get moved around in museums.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 08:31 AM
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"Be aware that things get moved around in museums."

And want to add that certain wings are closed on certain days in the Louvre. See this page from the Louvre website: http://tinyurl.com/52pgfa

I love Flemish painters, and it used to kill me that the days or hours I chose to go to the Louvre, that specific area would be closed (and it was never the same day!). So again, just check that page if you want to verify that some of your desires will be available.

I have not taken the English tour at the Louvre, but it sounds good to me because one can get lost so easily. We used to joke as a family that no matter how we "attacked" the museum, somehow we always ended up in Mesopotamia.

Have fun.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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You can go to the Louvre web site and print out the floor plans and get an idea of what is where to make your time there more efficient>>

Adrienne - we had those. Still didn't help as we went past the Egyptian section for the third time.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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The Orsay isn;t that large and is probably doable in a half day - if you don't linger for long periods over specific works. (You can spend more time if you love specific painters - but in 4 hours you can see a lot).

You could easily spend 4 days in the Louvre. So, you need to go to the web site and check out the various departments to see what YOU really must see. It may not be the same for everyone in your party and you may decide to split up and meet for dinner. (We've done this a couple of times.)
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 10:29 AM
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Just an FYI, the English tour I mentioned at the D'Orsay was not an audiotour; it was with a very articulate and informative woman guide who made the art come alive for me. My personal choice is to always take a tour with a person rather than with an audioguide if available. I appreciate the interaction and the opportunity to ask questions.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 10:40 AM
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Be aware that some areas of the Louvre, such as the underground room with sarcophagi and the magnificent wooden statue of Osiris, can be closed at luch time and sometimes during breaks. We always stop at the front desk and ask what might be closed and when.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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You could easily spend 4 days in the Louvre.>>

that's what i though was going to happen to me.
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 02:01 PM
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ann - so happy to learn that you made it out of the Louvre alive and in less than 4 days!
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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We used Paris Muse for a fabulous, personalized, Louvre tour with our, at the time, 11 year old son. Well worth the money.
http://www.parismuse.com/seminars/louvre.shtml
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Old Jun 12th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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Thank you all so much for your helpful advice! I will check out these links immediately.
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