A month or two ago, my best friend told me to listen to an episode of NPR's "This American Life" podcast called "Americans in Paris." She said it was about how some Americans find a real connection with Paris while others don't. I have found this to be true; everyone I know who has visited Paris either loves it or hates it. There is no in-between.
I, of course, love it, and I want to think about it all the time, so I downloaded the podcast, the first and longest portion of which are the highlights of host Ira Glass's stay with David Sedaris while the latter was living in Paris. Full disclaimer here: I don't really love David Sedaris like everyone else does. I started one of his books and was so bored I couldn't finish it. I don't really think he is terribly funny. It's kind of like how everyone loves Will Ferrell movies and "The Hangover," and I am the ONLY ONE who just doesn't get it. But anyway, I don't.
And this podcast did nothing to change my mind. Sedaris falls decidedly on the side of not loving Paris despite having moved there. Why did he move there? Unclear. It seems like he moved there just because he could and the States was no longer challenging to him. And by this I mean he was comfortable living here in the U.S. But he found extreme discomfort living in Paris. In other words, his shit language skills gave him debilitating social anxiety which he paradoxically appeared to get off on. So yeah, I don't really get him at all. I prefer meds over foreign languages to treat social anxiety.
I was particularly turned off by the fact that he said that even though he was living a few blocks from the Louvre, he refused to go there because the only reason people go there is "because someone told them they had to." Um. OK, maybe this is true in some cases, but certainly not in mine, and I would venture to say that it is not in fact true in most cases. Part of the reason Paris was at the top of my list of places to visit was the Louvre itself.
There are a lot of reasons to visit the Louvre aside from the fact that someone told you you should (and by the way, you SHOULD, especially if you think a trip to Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for you). Like I don't know. Maybe you love art. Maybe you appreciate the historical and straight-up physical prominence of the building itself. Maybe you want to see what it feels like to be in the presence of pieces of art with staggering historical and cultural value. MAYBE, unlike Sedaris, you don't want to spend your time in taxidermy and hardware shops just because the people who work there are nice to you.
I mean, come on David. We're not all lemurs. (Although I did have a museology professor in college who once told us to touch the art in any museum when the staff wasn't looking, and I may have done this once or twice.)
All this is a roundabout way of saying that maybe museuming isn't for you when you travel, but if it is, you've come to the right post.
FIRST, SOME TIPS
Paris is full of museums, and I've told you this before, but I highly recommend that if you can avoid it, try to spread out your museuming throughout the course of your trip. Jen's planning was on point, but because of our timing, we weren't able to spread out our museum trips and ended up doing three museums in one day (beginning with the Louvre), and let's just say we maxed out hard. I've also told you this before -- when I took the museology course in college, I learned that the average museum goer lasts about two hours before they get hungry, physically exhausted (wear comfy shoes), or just flat out bored. So keep that in mind before you get cranky, lose your shit, and go HAM on an Asian tour group.
Secondly, even if you're not the type to plan your days out, it's worth noting that most museums throughout the world are closed on Mondays, notoriously slow days, so you'll have to plan around that if you want certain museums to be part of your trip. And for sure, if a museum is open on Mondays, as Paris's Centre Pompidou is, then it's usually a good day to visit.