I bought a Louvre membership my first week here, knowing it would pay for itself after three visits. The €35 I spent was the best investment I could have made: amazing trove of art aside, I get to skip the outrageously long line that snakes throughout the main courtyard by the pyramid in favor of a separately sectioned-off line, without a metal detector, and with a separate door. Passing through each ticket check-point is as simple as flashing them my membership card (I’d show you, but the picture they printed on it is totally dopey; she never told me when she took my photo, so I sat there smiling for a good two minutes. The results are less than spectacular). The dirty looks this garnered me from exhausted tourists stuck in yet another queue were worth the price alone; I’m important! I’m efficient! Out of my way, frustratingly ever-present Asian tour groups!
Unlike a lot of other things in Paris, the Louvre is one destination I would recommend not visiting first thing in the morning. Wait until the afternoon, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable time. On my first visit, I skipped the Denon wing where the Mona Lisa is housed and the insane crowds that go along with it. Instead, I headed to the Sully wing (Peintures Françaises, XVII-XIXeme siecles) in the other direction, where I had full galleries to myself. On my second trip, I caved and went to see La Joconde in all her tiny glory. I also saw a tourist take a photo of a direction sign for the Mona Lisa, as well as another tourist take a photo of a Mona Lisa poster in the gift shop. (Nothing, however, beats the time I saw someone on the Champs-Élysées taking a photo of a McDonald’s sign. Tourists! We are the worst!)
The sheer size of the museum is impossible to explain; I could go every single day I’m here and still not see everything. For now, I’ll settle for going once a week.