I’ve found that whenever my life gets particularly stressful, I dream of Paris. My mind transports me to the bustling streets of Montmartre, to the art-adorned walls of the Louvre, and to the quiet benches of the Jardin du Luxembourg. My heart aches for the carefree afternoons I spent in the corners of cafes and wandering each nook of the famous Grande Galerie. Until I can find my way back there for real, it seems my nighttime travels will have to do.
There are few single buildings that can draw visitors from every corner of the world. Musée du Louvre began as a palace, but has since been converted into the most visited museum on Earth. Inside its beautifully structured exterior lives the greatest collection of artwork ever seen, spanning from prehistory to the late 19th century. Historical timelines are kept in surprising quality as you travel through the Egyptian, Eastern, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and sculptural collections. But nothing drops jaws or makes me feel warmer than the paintings that span the Richelieu and Denon wings of the museum. Delacroix, David, Vermeer, and Caravaggio are among favorites, but truly nothing compares to the Mona Lisa. While many who see it in person scoff at its surprisingly small size and its ever-present crowd of camera-flashing tourists, the tiny portrait’s draw is what makes it incredible. For a man to have created a single work of art that is recognized by all and is the most visited piece in the most visited collection of nearly 35,000 pieces, well, that’s magic. I love I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid, the distinct parquet floor of the Grand Gallery, wall after wall of masterpieces, and how I still have to pronounce it Loo-vrah.