By Jenny Katz

Day 1: The Louvre Unveiled – From Mona Lisa’s Smile to Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Oh my gosh, today was like a dream, but with more walking—way more walking. We got to see the Louvre Museum, and wow, it’s MASSIVE! Seriously, you could get lost in there and discover a whole new civilization or something.

As we approached the famous glass pyramid, Dad was in full filmmaker mode, talking about ‘framing’ and ‘composition.’ Mom, meanwhile, was already contemplating how art can teach us mindfulness, making mental notes for her next book maybe. And then there’s Tom. His expression was so puzzled, “So it’s just a big building with pictures?” Oh boy, he had no idea what he was in for.

Once inside, our first stop was—of course—the Mona Lisa. The room was packed, like a mosh pit at a rock concert. But there she was, Mona, looking calm amid the chaos. Tom’s take? “She’s kinda cool, but why’s she smirking? Did she just play a prank on someone?” Mom and Dad chuckled, and I found it so funny because Tom always has this way of looking at the world that makes even the complicated stuff seem simple.

Louvre Museum timed-entrance admission

Louvre, mona lisa

Next up was Liberty Leading the People. The painting was huge and so full of action; it felt like it was about to jump off the wall. Tom was fascinated by all the characters and asked, “Can we take this picture home? It’ll look awesome in the living room!” We all laughed, but he seemed kinda serious.

We meandered through the museum, and then came across The Lacemaker by Vermeer. I don’t know why, but that small painting caught my attention. Maybe because the girl in the painting looked so focused, just like I get when I’m writing in my journal. Mom noticed I was staring and whispered, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” It was one of those mindfulness moments of hers, but it really did make me think.

Not to be outdone, Tom found his favorite section—the Egyptian Antiquities. “Look, I’m Indiana Jones!” he yelled, pretending to crack a whip. “I’m going to find the mummy’s treasure!” Honestly, his imagination is like a roller coaster that never stops. Dad filmed his antics, obviously thinking about the perfect title for his next vlog: “Little Explorer Conquers the Louvre!”

Mom led us to another iconic sculpture, the Venus de Milo. She looked serene but also kind of powerful. “Imagine, this has been around since ancient Greece,” Mom said. It made me feel like a tiny speck in the grand timeline of history, and yet here we were, a family from Cumming, Georgia, standing in front of this millennia-old masterpiece.

Louvre

But the real showstopper for me was The Death of Sardanapalus. The painting was intense and overwhelming, like an emotional tidal wave. It’s like all the feelings I’ve been having—the excitement, the homesickness, the wonder—were right there on that canvas. Mom looked at me, probably reading my thoughts, and gave me a hug. She didn’t need to say anything; that hug said it all.

By the end of the day, we were wiped out. I think we all felt like we’d run a marathon, but instead of miles, it was through centuries of art and history. Tom declared he had found three treasures and done two quests. He asked, “When are we coming back? I still need to defeat the dragon!” Well, there’s no dragon at the Louvre, but I love how he makes everything an adventure.

As we made our way out of the Louvre, Dad mentioned he’d gathered enough footage for what could easily be a great vlog. But, he added, he’s considering coming back tomorrow to capture even more of the “grand narrative.” This caught Mom off guard; she’d been under the impression that our Louvre visit was a one time thing. Tom and I chimed in, saying we’d been hoping to trade art for adventure by hitting up Disneyland Paris next. Dad said that would have to be postponed—apparently, the Louvre still has some untold stories he’s keen to capture on camera. So, it looks like our Disney dreams will have to wait just one more day.

Louvre Museum timed-entrance admission

Second Day at the Louvre: The Kids’ Expedition

Woke up today like a pro globetrotter, ready for round two at the Louvre. Dad started talking about the importance of “Day Two Perspectives” for his next video. But honestly, Tom and I were thinking more about another sort of perspectives—those that a kid can get in the midst of all these paintings and sculptures!

Mom had promised that today would be a bit more Tom and Jenny-friendly. She wasn’t kidding. We zoomed past the ‘adult’ stuff and found ourselves at the Louvre’s Art of the Islamic World section. The colorful tiles and intricate patterns caught my eye, but what really fascinated Tom were the ancient astrolabes. “They’re like ancient GPS,” Mom explained. Tom pretended they were secret agent gadgets and began a mission to “save the world.” Dad was, of course, capturing every single Tom-ism for the vlog.

Louvre

Next stop was the Louvre’s Children’s Workshop. Guess what? They let kids try their hand at art. Tom decided to draw a dragon—no surprise there—and I took a shot at replicating a Van Gogh. It was so relaxing and fun, even Mom and Dad joined in. Mom painted a very ‘mindful’ Buddha while Dad doodled some abstract shapes, probably calculating the best angles for his next video as he did so. Tom asked if he could hang his drawing next to the Mona Lisa. We all laughed, but I think he was half-serious!

Then came the Egyptian mummies. Tom was ecstatic. “I knew it! I knew we’d find treasure,” he shouted. He insisted on taking a faux mummy picture and sending it to his friend back home in Georgia. “Look, I’m a real explorer now,” he said, grinning ear to ear. Mom had a little mindfulness lesson about the concept of ‘forever’ as we stared at the mummies, but Tom interrupted, “If they lived forever, do you think they ever got to play Minecraft?” Honestly, only Tom could think of video games while staring at something thousands of years old.

We decided to spend some time in the sculpture section next, especially the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities. Tom challenged Dad to imitate some of the statues. Dad, being Dad, accepted the challenge and, well, the results were hilarious and somewhat YouTube-worthy.

As we were wandering, we stumbled upon The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and I just had to stop and admire it. It felt like it was about to fly away. I felt a bit like that statue—stationary but so full of motion, stuck in one point in time but forever reaching out to explore the world. Mom, sensing one of those growing-up moments happening, gave me a side hug.

As we made our way to the exit, we stopped by the gift shop. Tom wanted a toy replica of a knight’s armor, and I picked up a sketchbook. No ordinary sketchbook, though; it’s got prints of famous artworks on each page. Can’t wait to fill it with thoughts, doodles, and whatever else my mind can conjure.

Louvre Museum timed-entrance admission

Louvre

As we were leaving, I looked back at the Louvre. Two days, and we barely scratched the surface. There’s so much more to see and do. Tom asked, “When are we coming back? I think the dragon’s still in there!” I laughed and replied, “The dragon can wait, buddy. We’ve got more adventures ahead.”

As we strolled away from the Louvre, our minds were a kaleidoscope of vivid colors, historic tales, intricate shapes, and for Tom, a tapestry of gallant adventures and mythical dragons. Little did we know that our sojourn at the museum would extend into a surprising third day, thanks to an unexpected turn of events that none of us could have anticipated.

Day 3: The Lesser-Known Da Vinci

Today was supposed to be a Disney day, but last night, Dad got a notification that changed everything. Turns out, there was going to be an exclusive one-day tour of Da Vinci’s lesser-known works. Being the Renaissance art fan that he is, Dad was super excited. He said it was a chance to delve deep into the complexities and nuances of Da Vinci’s artistic world, something he absolutely couldn’t miss. So we all agreed to go back to the Louvre for one more day, and I’m so glad we did!

We started the tour in a small, intimate gallery I hadn’t noticed on our previous visits. The walls were covered with Da Vinci’s sketches and preliminary studies. I was amazed by the meticulous details in his notebooks; it felt like peeking into the mind of a genius. Mom was busy jotting down notes, possibly for her next book, who knows? You can read more about the Da Vinci sketches here.

Tom was not so much into the sketches, but when the guide began to explain the mechanics behind some of Da Vinci’s imagined inventions, he was all ears. “So Da Vinci was like a 15th-century Tony Stark!” he exclaimed, making the entire group laugh.

Louvre Museum timed-entrance admission

Da Vinci sketch

Then we moved on to an area displaying some of Da Vinci’s lesser-known paintings. There was one titled “Ginevra de’ Benci,” and our guide explained the story behind the woman’s melancholic eyes. I got lost in her gaze and wondered what she might have been thinking. Dad, of course, was filming everything; he was like a kid in a candy store.

We also visited “St. John the Baptist,” a painting that completely captivated me. His eyes had an enigmatic expression that left me pondering what he could be thinking. You can learn more about this painting here.

After the tour, we visited the gift shop. Tom saw a replica of the “Mona Lisa” and exclaimed, “Can we take her home?” He seemed genuinely disappointed when Mom explained that it was not for sale. However, he did get a Da Vinci puzzle that he couldn’t wait to dive into.

Dad, meanwhile, was deep in conversation with a couple of art historians he had met during the tour. It was fascinating listening to them talk about art with such passion, and Dad even got a few recommendations for other museums to visit on our trip.

As we made our way out, I felt grateful for the twist of fate that had brought us back for a third day. Who knows what adventures tomorrow holds, but for today, I’m just happy we got to peel back another layer of the Louvre’s endless wonders.

It’s been a whirlwind of art, history, and even a little bit of magic, really. And as I write this, I realize that the unexpected is often the most memorable. We could have gone to Disneyland, but instead, we got a deep, educational, and uniquely enriching experience that none of us will ever forget.

And so, we ended the day with our minds filled with more colors, intricate details, and layers of history than we had ever thought possible. Just another day in the life of a globe-trotting family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where We Called Home for Three Days in Paris

Our recent three-day stay at the Hôtel Crayon Rouge in Paris was an experience my family and I will cherish. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff that made us feel right at home.

The room was compact but creatively decorated, offering an intimate setting that my little brother Tom found fascinating. He was particularly enchanted by the board games the hotel provided, which kept him engaged when we weren’t out exploring. The smaller size of the room was a little challenging to navigate at times, especially for a family of four, but it also made our stay feel more cozy and authentic.

Breakfast was a treat! They offered a variety of items including scrambled eggs, ham, toast, and an assortment of delicious pastries like croissants. Tom got a kick out of the orange juice dispenser, while I enjoyed the diverse spread. However, I did notice that the cutlery and plates weren’t as spotless as they could be, which made us a bit cautious.

One feature that stood out for me was the air conditioning, which worked remarkably well. It was such a relief after our long days of walking around Paris in the summer. The only tiny inconvenience was the limited counter space in the bathroom; it was a bit of a juggling act to manage all our toiletries.

The Wi-Fi could have been a bit stronger, but honestly, the city had so much to offer that we hardly missed it.

All in all, Hôtel Crayon Rouge exceeded our expectations. Its combination of location, close to the Louvre, and distinctive charm made it the perfect choice for our family adventure in Paris. Would we stay there again? Absolutely.

Family Fun Around the Louvre: More Than Just Art

While staying at the Hôtel Crayon Rouge in Paris, our main focus was visiting the Louvre for three whole days. Yet, the area around our hotel had its own share of delightful spots that were perfect for families like ours.

Just a short walk away from the hotel was the Palais Royal Gardens, a wonderful sanctuary amid the bustling city. The black and white striped columns in Daniel Buren’s art installation were Tom’s favorite playground. He loved hopping from one to another, turning it into a game. It was the perfect place for Mom to practice her mindfulness too, sitting beside the central fountain.

We also stumbled upon a charming bookstore, Galignani, not too far from the hotel. Even though Tom is just starting to read, he found a delightful illustrated book about Paris. For me, the shop was a treasure trove of novels and journals, including some written by my mom’s favorite authors.

Mom and Dad were thrilled to find the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, which offers occasional family-friendly performances. While we didn’t have time to catch a show, it’s definitely on our list for the next visit.

Another surprising find was the Place des Victoires, a circular ‘square’ known for its equestrian statue of King Louis XIV. Tom was fascinated by the horse and spent a good 10 minutes pretending to be a knight.

We didn’t miss out on the Nelson Mandela Garden, a small green space dedicated to the late South African leader. The park had a fantastic playground that Tom loved, especially the slide and climbing structures. It was a good spot for him to run around and expend some energy.

And of course, there were plenty of cafés and patisseries nearby. Tom developed a fondness for French macarons, and we even stumbled upon a café that served a ‘kids’ café au lait,’ which was basically warm milk with a touch of coffee flavor. Tom felt so grown-up sipping it!

Even though our days were primarily filled with the wonders of the Louvre, these small excursions around our hotel added unexpected joys to our Parisian adventure. It was a reminder that sometimes the best experiences come from simply wandering around and discovering what’s just around the corner.

— By Jenny Katz

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