This week marks the 227th anniversary of the opening of the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1793. Of course, we want to be there for all the festivities and to view the 537 paintings and 186 objects of art that made up the original collection. As always, we must take a list of things not to do so we don’t cause a tear in the time continuum. Grab the list and a box of snuff, and let’s be off.
Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Opening of the Louvre Museum in 1793.
10 If you go, do not ask if Louis XVI is going to cut the ribbon. If you do, at best, no one of importance will hear you. At worst, the state police captain will hear your question. (You see, Matteo, Louis XVI was imprisoned a year ago, and all the art in the royal collection was declared a national treasure. The captain thinks you might be a royalist. Why is he talking to Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the inventor of the guillotine? Yes, they are pointing at you.)
9 if you go, do not resist Tiny the WWF champ when he offers you a glass of champaign. If you do, at best Tiny with think you are ill. At worst, Tiny just missed three weeks of group sessions on self-esteem issues and thinks you don’t like him. (Never mind that you never laid eyes on Tiny before now, Mack. He has a very fragile ego, and it looks like you may have shoved him over the edge. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually get the feeling back in your limbs. It just takes a few minutes after Tiny releases the “sleeper hold.” Yes, you have to say, “uncle.”)
8 If you go, do not ask a guard for directions to the Mona Lisa. If you do, at best, the guard will not know what you are talking about. At worst, you’ll ask a secret service member. ( The Mona Lisa was not installed in the Louvre until 1804, Mauricio. Prior to that, Francois, I displayed the Mona Lisa in a semi-public art gallery at Fontainebleau, his favorite chateau. Napoleon had the Mona Lisa hung in his bedroom from 1800 to 1804. You better think fast as to why you asked the question.)
7 If you go, do not ask to see the André-Charles Boulle collection of forty-eight drawings by Raphael. If you do, at best, the person you ask won’t know. At worst, you’ll ask the fire marshall of Paris. (It so happens, Markus that the forty-eight drawings were consumed in a fire in 1720 before the Louvre being opened to the public. Not too many people know that, and now the fire marshall wants to see how you knew. Telling him you read it on a blog isn’t going to help you.)
6 If you go, do not touch any of the paintings. If you do, at best, the guard is looking the other way. At worst, you will be caught red-handed, so to speak. (The guard has now alerted the staff, Marty. A couple of huge guys are headed in your direction. I don’t think they want to talk.)
5 If you go, do not ask for a croissant to go with your coffee. If you do, at best, someone will think you sneezed and will tell you à tes/vos souhaits (“to your wishes”). At worse, the chief baker will call the police. (The croissant was not invented until 1839 by August Zang, who founded a Viennese bakery (“Boulangerie Viennoise”) at 92, rue de Richelieu in Paris, Morton. So now how are you going to explain your request? Also, you are lucky that coffee was introduced in Paris in 1669.)
4 If you go, do not ask for the gift shop location. If you do, at best the person you ask speaks no English. At worse, you ask the museum director who immediately draws up a contract and makes you sign it. (Congratulations, Murdock. You are now the curator of the gift shop. No, you can’t introduce Slushies.)
3 If you go, do not ask a guard the time. If you do, at best you’ll get a strange look. At worst, the guard will wonder if you are suffering from some kind of mental problem. (The point is, Matianio. There are over 66 churches, 92 chapels, 13 abbeys, and 199 convents, all of which rang their bells for regular services and prayers at regular times of the day. No wonder the guard thought you had a mental problem.)
2 If you go, do not expect to buy a Croque monsieur sandwich anywhere. If you do, at best you’ll have to be satisfied with bread and cheese. At worst, you might try some sweetbreads with cheese and wine. (In 18th century Paris very few people could afford meat, Marcello. The diet was made up of mostly bread and wine. Occasionally some mutton or internal organ meat became available. Of course, you could buy some leftovers from a patrician’s table which were sold by merchants. Watch out for that leftover toothpick in the mashed potatoes.)
1 If you go, you do not buy any water from a vendor. If you do at best, it will be from a clean well. At worst, it will be pulled from the hopelessly polluted Seine. ( There are a couple of brothers named Perrier, Mikel starting a business delivering three million liters a water a day using steam-powered pumps at Chaillot and Gros-Caillou. Maybe they are on to something.)