When I think of Louvre, I think of Da Vinci Code even before I think of the Monalisa or the ages of art and history that it contains. I don’t think it is unnatural for people of my generation.

Once it was decided to go to Paris, the first thing we planned was to visit Louvre and keep separate time for it. We were not on a treasure hunt, but we could surely call it a pleasure hunt. And reaching Louvre was the first thing we did after checking into the hotel.

The minute I was past that mammoth zebra crossing, while clearing the Passage Richelieu, I already started getting glimpses of the Pyramids. Once we were in the central passage, my mind was getting over crowded with thoughts of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and all the European art that I had come to read about in my short life. Get down from the Pyramid entrance and we were left to marvel over the Napoleon Hall. After getting the tickets it was time to get a gigantic map of all four floors.

When you are at the Louvre, you are pretty sure you want to take a look and have some feel of the Monalisa, and even the Gallery knows that. No matter what part of the building you are at, the signs to take you to the Da Vinci master piece are always there. The question after that is, how much and what all can you see. Specially when the French do not show enough curtsy of giving details of the paintings and art in English for the foreign visitors. [Perhaps we should be thankful they at least made the maps and had the signs in English.]

A museum that has the collection of coveted Oriental, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antics, sculpture, paintings, prints, drawings, you have to either have all the time in the world, or a blunt decisive power. I choose the second option and straight headed for the Monalisa. And surprisingly, majority of the sections on the way were under construction on the first floor. After climbing past the Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpure, we were amidst the Italian paintings that left us breathless. And as Monalisa came closer, we were getting warm (in fact had to literally take our jackets off), as we entered the most crowded room 6. There it was, with her eyes on everyone present in the area, at the center of the every camera lens present there. What is it about her that makes you feel mysterious? Did it live up to the hype. The popular notion says No. But it does. It makes you want to appreciate the unknowable, unattainable side of life, at least it makes you want to cut the crowd and be right in the center in front of her so that she can mystify you. Her magic works if you let it. If you don’t let her in your mind, you’ll soon be following the crowd that straight heads out to the exit after the ritualistic visit, to meet the young college girls surveying how much time you spend in the Louvre.

And what you can not miss is The Napoleon II apartments and paintings from what seemed like entire Universe alongWedding Feast at Cana by Veronese. It covers the opposite wall of Monalisa with such grandeur that the sizes of both the paintings become complementary. In spite of the weekend hustle bustle on that saturday, we did manage to catch glimpses of with statues like Borghese Gladiator, Aphrodite, known as Venus de Milo some medieval sculptures and all those things whose names I can not remember or read about cause it was all French to me.

If the insides of the Louvre contained the heart of the past, your own heart might want to stay outside and enjoy the grand architectural beauty of this castle turned into museum. You can imagine how heading out of such a feast could not be as easy as finding Monalisa there.