April 29th Versailles/Loire Valley/Normandy - Extra day in Paris

Has anyone hired a local guide for an extra day in Paris? I’d like to visit the Louvre - don’t want to do it alone. I’ve been to Paris before - never had enough time at the Louvre (family issue). ´Tauck’ rep advised that they don’t go to the Louvre☹️


  • Not sure why you would be wary of going to Louvre on your own. There are several downloadable Apps you can study beforehand and that way you can choose what you'd like to see. Most important is to order your ticket ahead of time to avoid the line. I don't mean to sound flip, but I hate museum walk-throughs that barely scratch the surface. I usually abandon the tour group and do my own thing, esp. when there are temporary exhibits of interest. But then I'm a long-time museum junkie. Btw there are many smaller Parisian museums of interest for your next visit. Whatever you decide, enjoy!

  • edited April 2022

    I agree with MarketArt to do your own self-guided tour after deciding in advance what it is you wish to see in the time frame you desire. I have found that the guides either want you to see what they want you to see, or they take you on such a whirlwind tour that you have no clue what you saw. In my opinion, it could literally take a lifetime to see everything there is to see at the Louvre.

  • edited April 2022

    You can google for private and small group tours. Because you can walk for miles in the Louvre I agree with the others that with a map and research you can see what you are interested in, help save your weary feet and not wade through areas that don't appeal to you. My feet and I are much happier at the Cluny Museum. My husband is tired of missing the Louvre whenever we are in Paris so I may have to return to that mammoth building on our upcoming trip.

  • I'm sorry to hear they aren't doing the Louvre anymore. In our October small group tour we had an after hours tour that was great and there were only three Tauck groups in the entire building. Our TD said the new director wanted to eliminate these after hours tours since they were losing money. I respectfully disagree with the above thoughts on DIY. The previous time we went to the Louvre we hired a private docent who had a masters in art history. We connected with her before the tour and told her the things that we wanted to see. She also made her own suggestions. She provided insights that as a novice in the visual arts I would have never known or even thought about. She also knew the general flow of the crowds to help go to some less crowded areas. Whatever the fee we paid her for the four hours was well worth it.

  • Thank you, taxare, for your comments. By respectfully disagreeing with my comment, I was intrigued to read your thoughts and you certainly gave me a perspective that I never thought of. I love the concept of meeting beforehand with a well educated art historian to review my priorities, have her/him offer suggestions and then lead us through the museum avoiding the usual crowds.

    May I ask how you found such an individual? You mentioned a docent, so I presume she was affiliated with the Louvre. Thank you for any information you can provide!

  • We are also disappointed to hear Tauck is no longer providing the after-hours tour of the Louvre. We originally booked for 2020, then rescheduled for the small group tour beginning Sept. 2nd, 2022. The Louvre tour was not included in our itinerary when we re-booked, we were just hoping it was a covid thing, and would be re-instated. We'd be very interested to get information if anyone has booked a private tour on their own. A quick google search shows about $450-ish for just the 2 of us, or about half that for a semi-private tour. We're in Paris for 3 days following our tour, so we'll have the time to do this the morning our tour ends on the 14th. This day works best for us, as we are at Le Meurice next door for nights 10-12.

  • Sad about the after hours Louvre tour. Hope it gets reinstated. It's one of the sights my husband ( who initially wasn't all that into taking this tour) raves about. He shows everyone our pictures in front of the Mona Lisa.

  • If you want to see the Mona Lisa without the crowds, head to the Prado Museum in MADRID where there is a Mona Lisa painting that is probably by one of Leonardo’s pupils. There are no crowds and you can go straight up to the painting. We were in Madrid because my hubby had a conference there, I did my own thing until the weekend when we saved going to the Prado together….and guess who came round….a Tauck tour! 😂😂😂😂

  • kfnknfzk, thank you for your response. In that situation we used an online service called Paris Muse. Similar to you I look at a lot of resources, this forum, Trip Advisor, cruise critic, etc. Perhaps we lucked out, but the particular guide we chose, was just delightful and extremely knowledgeable. She was independent not associated with the Louvre, so I suppose not truly defined as a "docent", but she had worked at the Louvre previously and had led many personal tours.
    CS, I am also like your husband, I show the picture of my wife in front of the Mona Lisa with no one else around often :p

  • taxare, I like the picture but this one really shows what it's like to be in that room. The guide we had was great and added so much to our understanding of what we were seeing. We also got a chance to really appreciate the building as well. I imagine when it's packed with people it's hard to appreciate it. Just wish the visit had gone on longer.

  • edited April 2022

    A bit of perspective from a Google search: It would take around 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the Louvre if you took 30 seconds to see each and every piece. I remember the Mona Lisa was much smaller than I had imagined. I may have seen it at the Louvre, but I have a vague memory of seeing it on one of its rare traveling appearances; it was at the Met and the National Gallery of Art in 1963!

  • Thank you, taxare, for your response!

    Regarding Madrid, art enthusiasts will love what is called the Golden Triangle of Art...The Prado, The Thyssen-Bornemisza and The Reina Sofia...all of which are located within walking distance of the Westin Palace hotel which Tauck stays at on several of their tours.

  • This version of the Mona Lisa (Louvre) was painted by one of Leonardo’s pupils. The fact that each pentimento, or change, in Leonardo’s original (to the bust, outline of the veil and position of the fingers) is repeated here suggests that the two works were created simultaneously. There are also differences with respect to the original, in the unfinished landscape and on the face. Overall, the panel seems to reflect an intermediate stage in the creation of the Louvre painting.

    A comparison of the infrared reflectograms of the two panels reveals identical details concealed beneath the surface, particularly in the creation of the figures, which illustrates a parallel working process and reveals that the copyist reproduced much of the process of elaboration with which the Louvre painting was created, albeit without aiming to imitate it. The figures are identical in size and shape and were transferred by tracing, undoubtedly from the same cartoon. The preparatory underdrawing of the original reveals the principal lines of the setting and intermediary phasesin the execution that are repeated in the copy, which has very precise underdrawing and is drawn up using different materials and implements. In the copy, some of the transferred outlines were reinforced and corrected freehand and there are visible lines of free drawing that are not related to the forms on the surface or to the underlying ones in the original. Rather, they reflect hesitations and trials by the artist of this panel and refer to a more complex process than that of a mere copy. There is also one more important fact: many of the “pentimenti” detected in the original (significant or minor) are repeated in the underlying image on the panel in the Prado. They include an identical change in position to the outline of the two heads in relation to the painted surface and slight adjustments to the outline of the right cheek and neck. These modifications could have happened in either direction: not only did the pupil make corrections while the master was working on and refining the original but some of the pupil´s errors may have suggested adjustments to Leonardo for his own work, particularly in the landscape which is notably simplified with regard to the initial one, as the Prado panel reflects. Only someone working alongside the master would have witnessed the adjustments that he made to the work in progress.

    As was habitual in Leonardo´s studio, the materials are of extremely high quality and have survived in almost perfect condition. With the exception of the type of wood, which is walnut in the copy and poplar in the original, the other materials and the creation of the underlying work is similar. Both paintings have an oil-based, whiteish ground while the Prado´s has a orangeish priming, also with an oil binder, of a tone similar to that observed in works by Leonardo and the Milan studio. In formal terms, the two works are the same but the Prado panel is not comparable to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in terms of quality and handling. The method of applying the paint is one of the most significant differences and the one that defines the final image of the sitters.

    The Prado panel is a carefully painted portrait and despite its overall hardness, it has very subtle details that can be perceived from close up on the lips and hands. The copyist did not imitate Leonardo´s handling and aimed to dissimulate his brushstrokes, which are only perceptible in the unfinished areas and, under a microscope, in the flesh tones. The stroke is also individualised in the underlying, freehand drawing. Another interesting aspect of the pictorial technique revealed by a comparison between the two panels is that the shadows of the flesh tones in the original seem to have been constructed by adding thin, superimposed layers of umber over a reflective white ground. However, the copyist worked in the opposite sense and covered areas of the orangeish priming with a grey wash in order to construct the shadows, allowing it to show through under a lighter coloured glaze. The tonal transition on the cheeks is modified with small reddish brushstrokes.

    The landscapes in both works have the same evanescent appearance but the one that has reappeared in the copy is unfinished. It includes rock formations that Leonardo drew in Milan around 1508-11 and which are present below the surface of the prototype. This detail supports the hypothesis that the Prado version corresponds to a moment prior to the completion of the original, which Leonardo modified at a moment when the copyist could no longer see it or that his panel remained in Milan when Leonardo went to Rome in 1513, and could not continue working on it. The copyist must have remained with Leonardo for a lengthy period, specialising in copying the works that the master most appreciated prior to his departure for Rome or France.

    At the present time no independent works have been identified by this copyist´s hand. There is no doubt that the imprecision and delicacy of Leonardo´s painting is quite different to the precise technique of the artist who painted the Prado panel.


    1507 1516 Painting Oil Walnut panel

  • edited April 2022

    I would make it a golden quadrangle & add the nearby CaixaForum Madrid (also in Barcelona), sponsored by the Spanish bank, an art space with changing exhibitions. I'm looking at my Mondrian/Kandinski (Sp. spelling) poster right now. Exhibitions are wide-ranging; years ago there were 45 works on display from the Uffizi.

  • MarketArt,

    Thanks for the fourth museum reference which I was unaware of.

    You mentioned the MET, which is very near and dear to my heart. After we emigrated from Denmark and settled in New York, my father was determined to expose his children to culture. Every two or three weeks we would take the train into Manhattan and visit the MET first then the New York Public Library. My parents had to drag me out of that library and place all my books into a small suitcase for the transport back to our home. So many books and such a large library!

    You probably know this...the MET is the largest museum in the western hemisphere, not in square footage but in the number of pieces of art housed there.

  • edited April 2022

    kfnknfzk, what an image, a young girl with her suitcase full of books! The Louvre claims to be the largest museum in square footage. A friend of mine grew up very near the Met & remembers donating pocket change every time she visited. I actually prefer smaller, more specialized museums. I am looking for a thread to suggest people lucky enough to be in Venice this year see at least a little of the Biannale, which opens this weekend. In 2019 pre-cruise I finally got to Vicenza and also saw a super-contemporary Biannale glass show on the island of Murano. {And yes, I know, we have wandered off our original topic.)

  • I've suggested this before, but if you want a private tour of any museum use, Roberto, at driverinitaly.com. Several folks in here have used my recommendation and hired him to arrange a driver, guide, tickets, etc. in a variety of locations around the world. AlanS can verify his business and abilities.

  • I talked to Roberto last night and he has reduced his footprint and can’t help you. Sorry.

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