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Dear friends,

The Louvre and I did not get off to a swell start.

I first visited it in 2019, during what I figured would be my one and only trip to Paris.* I bought an advance ticket and was outside the pyramid thirty minutes before opening, fairly vibrating with excitement. Here I was, little me, about to experience the world’s largest art museum, a place stacked to the rafters with beautiful, historic objects I had only dreamt of seeing in person.

Four hours later, with cheeks the color of ashes, I was clawing my way toward the exit. I needed a pee and a drink and a nap, and was asking myself questions like, “Are museums stupid?” and  “Is art stupid?” and “Am I stupid for liking art?”.

Listen. The Louvre is not an easy place to enjoy. It has three enormous flaws. It’s too big, it’s too crowded, and whatever you’re trying to see next, you can’t get there from here. That map they hand out at the entrance? It’s a placebo. Stick it in your handbag and forget it. It will in no way assist you in finding the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, or the restrooms.**

And Yet …

When I moved here, I joined the Amis du Louvre, the friends of the Louvre. 

Trying to see the greatest hits in one visit had been miserable. But card holders can drop in whenever they like, as often as they like, without a ticket–through a private entrance, no less.

That meant I could treat the museum like a casual hangout, and so I did–and so I do. Especially in the darkest months of the winter, when the weather turns nasty and sitting outdoors is not an option, I often head to the Louvre just for a change of scenery.

It has become my favorite indoor place to knit. No joke.

Even in peak tourist season it’s possible to find peace, quiet, and a cozy place to sit at the Louvre. You just have to know where to go. Please join me, and my current Second Sock,*** on a guided tour of four of my favorite Louvre knitting spots.

May I Show You To Your Seat?

The Louvre has three wings: Richelieu, Sully, and Denon. Upon arrival, you enter whichever you choose by following signs in the entrance hall under the pyramid. This space will feel very familiar if you have ever been to a Westfield shopping center.

Each wing has lots of places to sit–far more than you might expect. But we want to knit, so we will insist upon seats that are a) reasonably comfortable with b) excellent lighting in c) quiet rooms. 

That means we’re not going to bother with Denon.

Mona Lisa lives in Denon. The din and crush from the people waiting in line to take selfies with her turns every adjacent room into a den of misery. The famous Grand Gallery, right outside her door, is 945 feet long and crammed with other, better paintings by Leonardo and Raphael. It has lots of seats, but they’re all occupied in perpetuity by cranky people exhausted from waiting in line to see the [redacted] Mona Lisa.

Which leaves us with Richelieu and Sully. Let’s start with Sully.

Stop One: Near Eastern Antiquities

It’s a surprisingly short distance from the insanity at the gate into Sully …

follow the flag!

… to the tranquil galleries devoted to art from the Ancient Near East, into which the Louvre folds Iran, the Levant, and Arabia.

Ancient Egypt is nearby, but we’re not going there. Those galleries are always choked with people. Everybody wants a selfie with a sphinx.

Park yourself here, instead, among the Mesopotamians and the Persians. Each room is a little different, but throughout you’ll find nice padded benches in deep recesses below tall windows.

Get out your knitting and relax.

When it’s time to rest your fingers, there are cases and cases full of doodads and whatnots from ancient Mesopotamia and thereabouts to look at.

Bits and pieces from ancient Mesopotamia

For extra fun, count how often somebody asks if one of the carved stele on display is the Rosetta Stone. (No.)

Not the Rosetta Stone

One room is particularly spectacular–it’s full of things excavated from the palace of the legendary Persian king Darius I, who in case you are wondering reigned from 522–486 BCE.  The centerpiece is this enormous bull-headed capital (about seventeen feet high) that originally topped a column almost seventy feet high.

A lot of bull

All around it are glorious wall decorations from the palace in glazed, painted brick.

The Frieze of the Archers, about 550–330 BCE

And yet most folks passing through ignore it all while they wonder aloud (in fifteen different languages) if this is the way to the Mona Lisa. (It’s not.)

Stop Two: French Megapaintings

From here, you can take the stairs or the elevator up to Level 2 of the wing–the home of French painting from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Much of this space is devoted to epic works of French religious and history painting. And when I say epic, I mean none of them is going to fit over the sofa, even if you have high ceilings.

Stuff like this.

So Big

The thing about these colossal canvases is that almost nobody, including the French, cares about them any more. But they’re too big to stick in a closet or shove under the bed. Some are pleasantly decorative, if rather sugary-sweet, like Eugène Le Sueur’s**** series depicting the Nine Muses.

Eugène Le Sueur, details from the “Muses” series, about 1652–55

The benches here aren’t padded, but the light is great and the vibe is perfectly serene. I’ve more than once walked in on a guard who had dozed off, and tiptoed past so as not to disturb her. You could probably play touch football in these galleries and nobody would notice, but of course I prefer to knit.

Saints painted by Poussin marvel at my even tension

Stop Three: The Galerie Campana

When the air at this altitude starts to feel a little thin, head down to the first floor–still in the Sully Wing–and seek out the Galerie Campana. This part of the Louvre’s collection, mainly ancient Greek vases and terracotta figurines, was acquired en masse by the Emperor Napoléon III (aka Not the Short One, the Other One) in the 1860s and installed in a series of truly stunning rooms overlooking the river. The rooms recently reopened after a top-to-bottom restoration, including their painted ceilings.

It’s difficult to take your eyes off those ceilings, but if you do you’ll notice the views from here are Classic Paris.

The Seine, the Pont des Arts, and the Institut de France, home of the Académie Française

And what’s right in front of these windows? Brand new benches. You know what to do.

The Galerie Campana is just enough off the beaten path that it gets very, very little traffic. And that’s a shame, because honestly the vases are awe-inspiring. Put your knitting down every so often and take a look around. The scale is small and the cases are crowded–another reason busy tourists tend not to linger. If you allow yourself to slow down, you will be rewarded. 

Stop Four: Allegorical Nekkid People

By now you’re probably feeling very much at home in the Sully wing, but for our last stop we’re going next door to Richelieu. This wing notably houses two courtyards–the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget–that have been converted into indoor display spaces for large-scale works of sculpture rescued from parks and château gardens.

Thanks to the immense skylights and all that white marble, the light here is spectacular. The seating, however, is meh (mostly just slabs of more white marble); and, as you might expect, both courtyards echo dreadfully with the sound of people from around the world saying, “My eyes were closed, take it again” and “Is this the way to the Mona Lisa?” (It’s not.)

What we’re going to do is pass through to the adjacent galleries devoted to French sculpture from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries.

These galleries are crowded, and there aren’t many places to sit. What you need to do is hunt around until you see Denis Foyatier’s “La Sieste” (the nap) in which a lady has fallen asleep while reading and, oopsie, her nightie has slipped right off her shoulders!


Facing “La Sieste” is a padded two-seater bench in a window. It’s a tiny space–you could easily reach out and boop the sleepy lady, though I will recommend that you not do so.

This might well be my favorite knitting spot, even if the chief attraction of this gallery–bare breasts–are not my particular thing.

If you, yourself, are uncomfortable with nudity, please remember that most of the nudes in here are allegorical. So they’re not just naked, they’re Naked Because They Mean Something. 

As close to a women’s locker room as I’m ever gonna get

Right over the shoulder of “La Sieste” is one of the great historic treasures of the Louvre: Augustin Dumont’s 1885 “La Génie de la Liberté” (the spirit of freedom), also known as The Dude on the Bastille Column.

And no, not every statue in the gallery is of a naked person. The Widow Dumont is here, too, forever gazing over the sea of pearly flesh with an unforgettable expression on her face. I wonder if she was a knitter.

The Widow Marie Dumont (1799) by Jacques-Edme Dumont

Here, dear reader, concludes our tour of prime knitting spots inside the world’s largest art museum. You may be relieved to hear that the exit is right downstairs–follow the signs that say SORTIE and the sound of people muttering, “I can’t believe we couldn’t find the [redacted] Mona Lisa.”



*Turns out it was not.

**Four hundred galleries! Six hundred thousand square feet! Three restrooms!

***Oink Sock by Oink Pigments in “Sunny with a Chance of Peaches,” and a mystery purple that lost its ball band years ago.

****Le Sueur means sweaty guy. His name was Eugene the Sweaty Guy.

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About The Author

Franklin Habit has been sharing his brainy and hilarious writing and illustrations with the knitting world since 2005.

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  • So, what’s it like in Paris now, with the riots? Are you OK?

    • I so love your letters, but this one is especially wonderful. Thanks so much for making this knitters’ life richer and more joyful. Having been to the Louvre and had a similar experience to your first, I would have loved to have had your brilliant guidebook during my tour. ❤️

      • Same ❤️

    • Thanks. I’ll be consulting this article on my next trip to Paris in October.

      • Agree! I just bookmarked it.

    • I love your socks!

    • The troubles have largely been confined to the far edges of the city. As usual, the foreign press likes to make it seem like all of Paris is in flames. Life continues largely as usual. This is not to make light of the situation, but to explain that the reports are exaggerated.

      • The Right here is shouting that “France has fallen!”.

      • Love your sanity

      • I’m always inspired by your foray to France. Socks – oh how I wish I could knit them. I’m not intimidated by complex patterns but somehow socks elude me. I envy you your expertise.
        Is there a sock pattern you’d recommend that would be good for a first timer?
        Bonne journée.

        • I love the book Knit 2 Socks in 1. She had taken out everything you hate about socks and replaced it with something easy.

      • Thank you Franklin. I will be there in a week. Perhaps I will find you on a comfy bench.

      • Typical press. Back in the dark ages, or circa 1985, I went on temporary assignment to the US Embassy in Mexico City after the big earthquake, which was indeed big. US Press made it seem like the city was in rubble. On the LONG drive from the airport to downtown, I kept looking for the rubble. None. I saw a few buildings with some crumbling bricks. After a couple days I found one collapsed building that had been on the news–if you looked right and left, it was intact buildings as far as the eye could see. Those of us on temporary duty were eating out, and we’d just look at buildings nearby our chosen restaurant to make sure if there were an aftershock nothing would topple onto us. Glad you are safe, and thank you for the laughs!

      • You are so beloved by my family that my daughter asked if you were ok.❤️

  • A truly superb article. Thank you.

  • Your articles are wonderful and amusing and leave me smiling for the rest of the day. Thank you!!

    • Thank you Franklin for that wise Amis du Louvre advice. It used to be fairly common knowledge that the entire Louvre can’t be seen in one day. Unfortunately most people only have one day to take in as much as possible. And have to navigate those massive crowds, apparently. Many moons ago I actually rattled around freely in those endless rooms and stumbled onto the Mona Lisa by accident. She was in an unobtrusive corner in those days and displayed with no fanfare at all. I had her all to myself for a few minutes until several people nearby noticed my fixed stare and made a beeline over. Still, it was only about 5 or 10 people, not dozens. Those were the days…I envy all that peaceful, art-bedecked knitting!

  • Glad to hear things are not as bad as being reported. I wish I had had your guide to the Louvre when I visited – your descriptions of everyone wandering around not knowing where anything is, is spot on. And that map they hand out is completely useless! I’m amazed, though, they they let you in with knitting needles?

    • Aaahhh oui! it is possible to enter with les needles du knit when you enter the “porte speciale” for Les Amis du Louvre! It is only les touristes (insert click of tongue filled with disdain and pursed lips reeking of scorn) who are prevented. LOL! I sat outside the Louvre on my one trip to Paris (so far) knowing it was requiring more time and energy than I had that day. I had hoped to enter the Orsay, but I had a delightful girl from… Sweden(?) who met me & attached herself to me at the hostel and decided I needed her company for the day. I could not fathom enduring her endless chatter in the Orsay so I did not venture across (insert my own click of the tongue filled with disdain) but I did, in general find her to be amusing so we wandered around Paris and took some touristy photos together. A winter trip to Paris may be the ideal next visit so I might visit those museums I had to miss at a time when being indoors is preferable AND tourists are at a minimum. Merci beaucoup Franklin for the insider tips!

  • The frieze of the archers is stunning! And I’ll never stop being amazed at how sculptors could make marble look so soft.

  • Must Visit Paris.
    Thank you for articles, i feel like I’m there.

  • A place I would love to see but know I never will now, so THANK YOU for the tour and lovely knitting commentary, I feel I have been there xxx.

  • Merci!

  • I’d happily join you in ancient Mesopotamia, although I’m afraid I wouldn’t get much knitting done. Thank you for your kind invitation.

  • Dolores and I look forward with keen anticipatkon to your stories. They make the gloomiest day brighter. We find ourselves chuckling at random moments of the day when a line from your story pops into our heads. Thank you.

  • Wow—i was just there a month ago after 19 years and when my friend asked how the Louvre was, I responded that it was stupid. It was the last day of our ten day trip and my mood was sour after the long pre-ticket purchase line and the subsequent line to the loo. Sooooo many people were all taking selfies with the art and people were touching the sculptures.

    Reading your article really validates my experience and how I thought the Louvre was a waste of our time as we could have been enjoying the beauty of the French architecture outside.

    Thank you!

    • i did that in florence. an art history student, i left the uffizi til the last day (it was November and so not crowded) and then when i did get there all i could think was “these guys wouldn’t be in here on a beautiful day like this.” so i sped through and burst out unto those sunny streets asap?,

      • My daughter (history and art history student) spent a semester in Florence this January to May, and she had a pass to the Uffizi, which was close to her apartment, so she went there every day to knit. :). It was her indoor knitting spot for rainy days. Much like Franklin at the Louvre.

  • Love, love, love this sweet essay! Thank you for a reminder of how we should all try to spend our days (be it Louvre or local park, library)…. In a well-lit space, surrounded by beauty, with our knitting.

    • Merci, Franklin,
      I’ve had trouble getting back to my knitting since my husband of 54 years died in February. But I just renewed my passport and you’ve perked up my interest in travel and knitting. Love all your letters please keep them coming.

      • Susan, I am so sorry. I completely understand about not knitting. My deepest condolences to you. Passport-required travel sounds perfect.

    • Thank you for your extremely well written article! Full of precious information, precise pictures but, above all, delicious to read! It lit up my morning and my week!

  • Oh, Franklin, where was this post yesterday, as I made my way to the Louvre with my high school graduated granddaughters, their mums, a friend and another granny! Granny and I are knitters, I have been to the Louvre several times before ( early spring and in the fall….so much nicer) and as the years have passed, we grannies have come to love a good seat while everyone else runs all over seeing what there is to see! We kissed them goodbye yesterday after our lovely cruise down the Seine and found a charming place to sit and chat while they visited the Louvre. They and the mums and friend loved it and as they were with a small tour, got the selfies with Mona etc. Other Granny and I found a lovely cafe, sipped wine and enjoyed a light lunch. Age has it’s privileges ❤

    • Lovely piece! It makes me excited to plan my next visit to the Louvre. An art historian recommended starting on the top floors and working our way down, and that was definitely the way to go. There are so many amazing things to take in. Now I’m eager to find some nooks and crannies from which to enjoy the lesser known works. Thank you!

  • My sister and I stayed in a hotel near the Louvre. We had a museum pass. Different times of the day we stopped by hoping to get a quiet moment. Shortly before closing we were able to visit the Mona Lisa with no one around. We must have been being reasonably polite about it because the guards didn’t try too hard to rush us out!

  • Merci, Franklin! This type of recommendation should be provided for every museum. I remember when I lived across from one, and would do the same – pop over for a rainy afternoon to just breathe the art, but I never thought to take a project and sit. As I started to read I thought “what a wonderful place to go when the weather isn’t good enough outside” and you quickly confirmed. Enjoy – and please keep sending pictures of Knitting With Art Nearby!

    • @MargoLynn I heartily agree. I will now be looking for appropriate knitting spots in all my favorite museums. One I personally recommend is the atrium at the Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. The light there is also spectacular.

  • Thanx for sharing, LOVE your letters!

  • This is the best thing I’ve read in eons. Thank you!

  • Superb! Outstanding photos, funny (alot of bull), great sock colors!! I’m glad to hear you are distant from the fires and protests!! I’m now committed to becoming a museum knitter….

  • So entertaining as usual! Love it!

    • Loved your letter! Thanks for all the reminders of the Louvre.

  • Your stories make my day!

  • If you’re ever in Boston, I highly recommend my favorite, The Gardner Museum. Lots of nice Renaissance and Dutch art, corners to have a knit in and you will never hear anyone ask for the way to the ML…

    • Sadie, you bear the maiden name of a beloved late aunt who lived to be 100. Wishing you the same excellent health!

    • Oh, the Gardner! When I lived in Boston, I was a member. No other place in the world quite like it 🙂

    • I agree, that is a wonderful museum!

  • Superbe!

  • As always, Franklin never fails to bring a smile and a few chuckles! Love his letters!

  • My favorite way to visit museums—not something to be checked off on a list, but a place to spend time, to be with my thoughts, whether inspired by the exhibits or not. Knitting only enhances the experience.

  • Love the essay! Will you please consider a similar evaluation of the Musee d’Orsay? That museum is my favorite. Be safe, Franklin!

    • Ooh yes, the Musee d’Orsay! That was our favourite, too! My family had a wonderful afternoon stumbling into unexpected treasures there on our quest to find Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe.

      • Sorry, also loved the Louvre, Franklin (and your guide to it)! It brought back many amazing memories of a wonderful trip. Question for you (and everyone else): thinking about Da Vinci (after looking at his other works in the “Mona room”, my husband mused that if Da Vinci had found himself transported to our time, he might have been one of the very few people who would be more fascinated rather than completely lost and bewildered (as opposed to many of his Renaissance peers). I tend to agree with that. Curious about others’ thoughts.

  • I stumbled downstairs to make coffee this morning and my mom – who is not a knitter – said “Have you read Franklin’s new letter?!?!? It’s amazing!!!” So I sat down to read it. Loved it so much I read it again with coffee!

  • love your articles!

  • I loved this entry! Thank you for the wonderful tour! It was a treat as I drank my morning coffee.

  • Great article! Was just there a week ago, but of course was moving with the masses. Left map reading to our grown son who guided us, but still lost on our way to see the Vermeer, which, of course, was out on loan. I’m not sure if I’d go again, but you make it sound enticing. Our most peaceful stop on the trip was Monet’s water garden at Giverny, first thing in the morning. Lesser crowds and we could sit in peace. Next time, I’ll bring my knitting there. I loved Paris! Keep these letters coming!

  • I am forwarding this to friends who will be visiting Paris in September. I am saving it for my trip there someday. You can be sure I will be looking for you.

  • How wonderful to be able to sit amidst the riches of the world and knit in peace. Lovely.

  • I love your columns. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

  • Another brilliant, informative and thoroughly entertaining piece, merci beaucoup!!

  • Thank you. Amazed that they let you knit. At the Nelson Atkins in KC they confiscated my needles!

  • How’s the book about the Foxe and Boxe house coming along? Please tell me you aren’t going to let them languish in a construction zone.

  • Thank you for the beautiful images and hilarity, such an entertaining read. Won’t be going to the Louvre or the loo at the Louvre, time constraints for my first trip to France. Please share one must do for my thirty-six hours in Paris. Sister Buffy here of MDK Ann.

    • Oooh…okay. Cool challenge. The must-do will depend on what you are most interested in – history, architecture, art, parks? A lot of visitors miss the Musée de Cluny, which houses amazing mediaeval art including a very famous cycle of unicorn tapestries, and it’s also in a charming neighborhood that’s fun to explore. For experiencing amazing food and a great neighborhood all at once, I *highly* recommend the South Marais tour run by Paris By Mouth. Actually, I recommend any of their tours, but that one I specifically gave to my sister and brother-in-law as an anniversary gift when they visited and they were over the moon. Just be sure to book in advance, their groups are small and they fill up.

      • Thank you so much. I had just listened to a podcast that mentioned Paris By Mouth. Hope I’m not too late for that! I like shopping in unusual boutiques, housewares. I found one shop, La Tuile a Loup, that has my attention. Thoughts on shops? Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Thank you- sock it to the Louvre!

    • I agree the Louvre is very frustrating. I know its historical and all, but i wish they would install handrails for the stairs. Now that i have your terrific advice, i look forward to my next visit! (Personally i liked the d’Orsay MUCH more.)

  • I love your Letters from Paris. I’m definitely keeping this one, just in case I ever get to go there.

  • Well done! Thanks for your sense of adventure and humor in your writing. Course I almost choked on my coffee when I read your statement about the Westfield shopping center. Ha. Spot on.

  • Thanks Franklin, you write the way my brain talks to me! We’ve also given up on the Louvre, spend time in smaller museums with good seating. Marmottan instead of D’orsay and so on… but the pass and support is a brilliant idea, even if a tourist! I love that museums in London are mostly free so you can go often, at odd times, and short but sweet visits. Lousy benches for knitting!

  • I love him!!! He belongs in Paris.

    • Yes! Wonderful post, thank you. I too am so very happy for you, that you were able to change your whole life and end up in just the right place for you. Always enjoy your letters!

  • I love the quieter parts of museums too. Thanks for the little tour!

  • My husband and I did the Louvre straight from an 8-hour plane ride. Not a pleasant experience.

  • Great letter and thank you for the photos also!

  • Love your letters..this is a great one…pictures too! ….like a Westfield shopping center! IYKYK. While you are missed here glad you are one of us who got away. I check MDK for your letters weekly.

  • So great to hear from you again! What a lovely tour. More museums please!

  • Although we are a couple of hours away, we have memberships to museums in Chicago and not only is it easy to get in and out, it is wonderful to just casually drop in and not feel that you have to go in every gallery from basement to rooftop. A membership removes the pressure of trying to see everything in one visit and usually does not cost much more than a few admissions. What a great thing to have a membership at the Louvre.

    Pre-covid we were fortunate to have had many visits to Paris. Not sure about seating options but I loved the quiet of the galleries with the 18th Century French painter Chardin and the the ones with the Dutch Masters. Neither are crowded and the works are so calming after all the commotion of the must-see galleries. The iconic Mona Lisa is worth seeing once, sadly through a forest of raised cell phone cameras reflected in the glass covering the painting, but it is definitely not the highlight of a visit to the Louvre.

    It may have changed in the summer of big crowds, but we discovered that the best way to get a museum pass is at the Conciergerie on Ille de Cite (no crowds and lines) and to enter the Louvre from the Metro rather from above as you enter right under the pyramid with pass in hand. When Paris has the Olympics next summer, I doubt any entrance will be easy! That might be a time to rent out your apartment and finance the trip of your dreams to discover suitable for knitting spots in the worlds greatest museums.

  • Thanks so much Franklin for such a comprehensive, funny letter and for the generous tour with tips! I love your writing and also watching your live videos from your studio in Paris since I became a patron on Patreon. I highly recommend this delight to all of us knitters!

  • Thank you for a lovely trip back to the Louvre!

  • One of the best travel articles ever. Superb, Franklin.

  • Always enjoy your writing!

  • Went to the Louvre once. Swore I’d never return, but you have changed my mind. Love this article, and the socks! Stay well.

  • Thank you for this most delightful tour, as well as the humor! Westfields Mall, that’s a lot of bull, and so much more! Enjoy all that public knitting.

  • What a truly lovely way to experience an amazing museum. I imagine everytime you visit one of these favorite galleries you find something new to delight you that you’ve not noticed before.

  • Merci!

  • Thank you for a wonderful article. After hearing negative comments about the Louvre from many friends over the years, I may try it when in Paris. I will definitely save your comments because you made me laugh out loud on a Monday morning. Well done!

  • Thank You for taking us along on your adventures.

  • Agree about the Louvre. When we were there, I just needed to be in the same room as the Mona Lisa, not get a good view. Enjoyed the building itself most of all. Got Covid in the D’Orsay which was packed on a Tuesday when the Louvre was closed.

    My favorite museum in the Cluny with the tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn which fascinates me.

  • Ah, Franklin, what an enjoyable letter. I, too, have discovered the fun of belonging to museums, wandering a bit and looking at things, then finding a peaceful spot to sit and knit before perhaps hitting the cafe. It’s great to not feel stressed about seeing ALL THE THINGS in one go. Museums make me feel all aesthetic and intellectual even if I am not thinking about the art.

    • Years ago events conspired to give us the chance to visit the MFA or the Gardner Museum weekly for an entire winter. With no more than 2 hours available at a time we could visit only 1 gallery or nook, almost at random. That’s how we learned that spending time in only one area helped us to discover what was extraordinary about that collection. Also the MFA has Drawing-in-the-Galleries classes. With preparation and nudging from an instructor, they sit you in one place, staring at one work that you have to really examine to draw it. Possibly other museums don’t do this, but an experience worth looking for!

  • This is a luxurious read, Franklin!

  • This was wonderful! I was transported to such a safe place of beautiful artistic expression, and with knitting to connected it all.

  • Leave it to you to find so many wonderful places to peacefully knit at the Louvre

  • OMG – A Westfield shopping center……I die.

  • Franklin — you yourself are a treasure.

  • As always, this letter from Paris was such a treat. The photo captions are everything. And can I please take a moment to marvel at your impeccable cuticles!? xoxo

  • Love this!

  • My advice to anyone traveling to Paris is “Skip the Mona Lisa.” Will they listen? Probably not. But they’ll agree with me afterwards.
    Becoming friends of museum opens all sorts of opportunities. This month we’re attending two lectures through the Smithsonian about women designers, including Dorothy Liebes, a weaver and textile designer. Many of the lectures are now via Zoom which has greatly reduced the cost, plus one can attend from anywhere. Being local, though, earlier this year I was able to take a behind-the-scenes tour of its fiber collection.

  • Had I only knitted when I lived in Belgium and had the chance to visit Paris frequently. Now I imagine finding those secluded branches — right among the nudes. Your tour descriptions are just perfect — actually all you write is so enjoyable and are bits of loveliness! ❤️

  • For a spooky experience, I recommend the Egyptian mummy room during the evening. I went there when I was a student, and when the Louvre was free one Wednesday night per month. I ended up alone in these rooms, close to 9pm, with the mummies and the creaking wooden floors. I did not stay long, it was way too creepy. But I still remember it to this day, more than 30 years later.
    Glad to know the situation in Paris is not too bad. I’m in Brittany, and bus stops were all smashed down and construction machines burned down not far from our home, but we’re used to the fireworks at night, they’ve been going on for years now (drug traficking). Helicopters hover at night but not for long. Everything seems strangely coordinated though…some dark forces at work behind all this I’m sure.

  • Franklin,
    I love your letters from Paris. You made us feel that we were right with you, knitting and all. I could feel your calmness as you enjoyed your visit with your knitting.

  • Great article! I really enjoyed the tour. And nice socks

  • Your missives have the quality of a conversation with a friend who points out items of interest, both good and not so much….would adore sharing a bench in quiet solitude broken by the inquiries of the Mona Lisa, allowing you to respond and giggling as they moved on shaking their respective heads. Will definitely consider becoming mon amie for the unlimited access I presume covers a period of time; may cover several trips at varied times and support can’t go awry. Bonne chance!

  • Better knitting than in New York’s s Guggenheim,no support benches,only Poofs to lay on.

  • So fun. I look forward to reading your letters so much. Thank you.

  • Wonderful tour! Thank you! The one time I visited the Louvre I took all the advice and didn’t even think of trying to see it all, and wasn’t interested in the Mona Lisa. I’ve been through my share of mosh pits, thank you. I decided what I *really* wanted to see was their collection of drawings & etchings, ink or pencil drawings etc., and had a heckuva time finding it – and it was closed for curating the art or something. Natch. So I just wandered around and went where my eye took me. (You’re right, the map is useless.) I’m not a fan of those huge paintings – I discovered that I *really* preferred the various portraits of ordinary people that various artists did of their landlady, mother-in-law, random characters on the street, etc. When I was tired, I found my way back to the exit (laboriously) and went back to my apartment and crashed. *Lovely* experience.

  • I was at the Louvre for the first time last month. Glad to know I’m not the only one who was exhausted by it. Wish I’d had your letter then so I could have found the good knitting spots. But, yes, we did see the [redacted] Mona Lisa, along with several thousand people who felt the need to take a selfie with her. So glad you are now able to enjoy the museum.

  • I like LeSueur, Vouet and the Atticists! When I was at the Louvre, many moons ago, I had to remind myself that it was a palace -and the ceilings and the boisorie were also artwork. Everyone even then looked at Mona w/o looking at the Madonna of the Rocks, the St John or the Marriage of Cana by Veronese in the same room.


    The MMA here is full of tourists and I stay away from crowded galleries as well. Much prefer The Frick.

    Is the Marie d’Medici cycle crowded??
    (Art historian here who sat 17th and 18th c art …) Watteau’s Cythera?

    Thank you as always for the lovely tour and my vicarious visit.

    • Yes! That Veronese is right opposite the ML, knocks the socks off her in my opinion and is 14567 times the size and yet still people just crowd round the little lady!

    • Marie’s room is almost always wonderfully uncrowded, and also one of my favorite spaces in any museum, anywhere, for the combination of Rubens’ spectacular realization of Marie’s hilarious hubris. The only reason I don’t knit there more is because I truly have trouble keeping my mind on my knitting!

      • I hope you heard me laugh! ‘Marie’s hubris!’ Indeed. So true.
        I do distinctly remember seeing Rubens’ altarpieces in the flesh (Vienna) and blown away by their sheer size – huge! Those Hapsburgs!

        And a visit to Vaux le Vicomte. A pre-Versailles jewel. When I visited my cousin in Paris ages ago, she had a car.

        Sigh. Jealous.

  • Enjoyable! Was in the Louvre two weeks ago & hated it! What a zoo! Should have taken my knitting !!
    Thanks for the delightful article.

  • Wonderful, as always! Thank you for writing.

  • Thank you for this wonderful article! I was there last summer and I loved my time in Paris, and of course this museum. My daily step count has never been higher. Someone should name a yarn line with names inspired by paintings and colours found in the Louvre. Someone probably has no doubt and poor saps like me would buy it and knit with it as we head for the (redacted) Mona Lisa.

  • I was so happy to see you were my Monday morning treat! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the ‘tour’ of knitable (knittable?) seats in the Louvre. I was there in 1977 and, unfortunately not likely to visit anytime soon. Caregiving does not allow much vacation time. I will visit this article whenever I am feeling sorry for myself and wishing I could be anywhere else but here! I was transported and amazed this morning and can’t thank you enough! I am also an admirer of your sock and tension!

  • Unsurprisingly you have named all my favorite quiet nooks and crannies. The Louvre is best digested in small bites. One of the things I really noticed the last time I was there was how dang loud the parquet floors are. As if there were not already too many sensory inputs. And yet I will never stop loving that place. Thanks for the visit.

  • You are soooooo funny. Can you be my brother?
    Thanks for the tour.

    • …and mine, too?

  • As a knitter and a painter, it’s nice to know art is still appreciated somewhere. Thank you for your sweet article. I can(‘t) tell you how many times my nightie just falls off like that (0).

  • I so enjoy your posts!

  • When my local NPR affiliate draws my name for tickets to go anywhere in the world, I’m heading to Mumbai, and maybe Delhi. I may never travel to Paris, even if your photograph of _The Frieze of the Archers_ quickened my pulse.

    Your writing is doing it again — making me wonder what varieties of visual art, history, and other fascinating stuff I’m already surrounded by.

    I’ve allowed myself to be held back from exploring such stuff because I know bupkis about art, but that’s not the point! Your adventures remind me that the soul grows by exposure to things, and that starting where I am with an open mind is exactly right, as are dozens of other approaches.

    Hunting for knitting sites in the museums near me sounds like a fine place to begin.

    Your mixture of solemnity and irreverence is perfect! Thank you for once again making the world larger and more magical.

  • Thanks for my morning chuckle! And the lovely pics.

  • I’m so glad I saved your letter for after my work-out.
    I enjoyed every picture and your prose.

  • Another informative and amusing letter from you. To knit witthout a cup of tea or coffee takes great fortitude and courage–another reason to admire you. Cheers!

  • Enjoyed his comments very much!

  • I wish it was a smidge easier to get to a museum from campus (it’s very easy by train but hard to do that on a lunch break) … bet I could find some good corners in the Chicago Art Institute

  • Totally agree re the [redacted] Mona Lisa. But that Athena Nike on the landing -SWOON! It may not still be there, I saw it in 1988.

  • A comment here reminded me, if you haven’t yet, although I’m sure you have, you ***must*** check out the Rodin museum.

  • I always wondered what it would be like to visit the louvre. It’s kind of like what we experienced in Rome at the Sistine chapel. I wanted to pause or lie down, longer than allowed, and only have bragging rights that we were there.

  • I love the letter and I miss your wit.

  • Love your stories about your time in Paris. Makes me want to book another ticket to visit Paris again. I love your sock pattern too. I’ve searched for Oink Socks by Oink Pigment and cat find the pattern. Do you have any more info?

  • I too made socks in the Louvre and other places in Europe while taking high school students on spring break tours. The docks make great memories

  • The sculpture courtyards were my favorite place in the Louvre. The absence of live humans and abundance of marble ones made it my happy place.

  • Great piece! Your essays are always good for a few giggles and several guffaws! Thank you! Can’t wait to hear what you get up to next time!

  • Love it! Thank you Franklin

  • Love your Louvre article! Remember me? I drove you to the dinky airport in Newport News VA in 2015 (Beth) (History Unwound Retreat)

  • Franklin, you’re the best. Thanks for the tour that I will never be able to take in person.

  • Franklin, dear, you are the treasure in the Louvre.

  • Thank you for this unique tour! The places and spaces brought back memories – I long to return to the museum.

  • What an exquisite way to enjoy the Louve! Thank you Franklin… I love and miss Paris, but you bring it right back to life for me!

  • Love you Franklin! And your writing! I hope your health problems are being taken care of.

  • Reading Franklin’s work is the highlight of my knitting/traveling day!

  • Franklin, where were you before I went to Paris in ’14!! What a wonderful guide to the Louvre. The Mona Lisa is over rated and Leonardo is somewhere laughing at the crowds. Montmartre is much more interesting. Your socks are divine.

  • From your purple and gold sock I deduce you are a Minnesota Vikings fan. No? Oh, well, at least you are not knitting a green and gold Milwaukee Packers sock. Thanks for the knitting tour — I will never get to the Louvre, and now I no longer feel like I should make the effort. Clearly, true enjoyment of that museum can only come to those like you, who can drop in any time and enjoy it a bit at a time. Viva le Franklin!

  • My one and only visit to the Louvre was in 1992 as a parent-chaperone for a small group of Grade 7 students, mostly boys. Of course, their favourite place was the Naked People Garden. We dragged them away to see the Mona Lisa so they could tell their parents that they had seen something other than body parts. (They had just been to the Catacombs, but that is a story for another day…) Like you said, the Mona Lisa was disappointingly small and drab.

    I cannot imagine knitting in the Louvre, so bravo! I found it to be noisy and full of too many people looking for the Mona Lisa…

  • In the 1990’s (before it was required or even “cool”) I homeschooled my daughter. I’m a nurse and through the magic of 12 hour shifts strategically worked I was able to take her to Europe for 6 weeks using precious little vacation time. Our plan was to study European history and art in the Louvre over the course of a week. We took our time. Saw things. Pulled out our notebooks looked at things then sketched some details to remember. Eventually we did make our way over to see the Mona Lisa, but honestly, I’d seen her before (February 1963 when she visited NYC). Meh. At the time my daughter and I were not knitters. You’ve given me ideas for when we next visit Paris. We have often brought our knitting to The Met (I’d recommend sitting near Isamu Noguchi’s Water Stone for good light and soothing sound). We like even more going to the Cloisters (especially in winter) for relaxing with art and knitting. Thank you for taking us on a fun filled tour. Happy 4th of July. KK

  • 20+ years ago as a student, one of my art instructors recommended finding the room filled with paintings the size of city buses depicting scenes from the life of (someone whose name I don’t recall). I did. Enormous, spectacular feats of skill and artistry, in service to a massive ego, starting with an infant being adored by gods and goddesses and possibly muses too. I was the only one in there.

    Similarly when I visited the Musei Vaticani I was the only person in the galleries besides the security guards, some of whom checked to see if I was lost. Everyone else was stampeding to the Sistine Chapel, past some of the most astounding religious art I’ve ever seen, including recent contemporary works. Bittersweet (I have *opinions* about the Church) and I’m very glad I took the time to do it.

  • I still want to see the (redacted) Mona Lisa. But I grew up in a museum, so I’m good at negotiating them. Also your knitting looks like the colours of St Augustine High School. Geaux Purple Knights!

  • We were just in Paris and took a 3 hour tour of the Louvre which meant no waiting in line. It was extremely selective, in terms of what we saw, and interestingly, focused quite a bit on the original architecture of the towers and fortifications in the basement (not sweaty). Then we spent a good deal of time on sculpture and a few paintings, including ML. Given our short time in Paris and our wish to see as much art as possible it was a good strategy for us. Your Pass sounds like a great deal! Thank you for sharing your life and observations in Paris!

  • What a beautiful life you’re making for yourself. Thanks for the expert, customized tour.

  • Just got back from several days of art museums in Paris. I had earlier contemplated the Amis du Louvre membership and now regret I didn’t get one–next time. I recommend skipping Mona entirely or just pop your head into the room for a quick look so you can say you saw her. The other Leonardos and Raphaels in the long gallery are much more beautiful.
    As a retired museum administrator, I know how important wayfinding tools (visitor maps, signage) are and how difficult they are to do well. Imagine how to explain how to navigate a former royal palace as complicated as the Louvre. I got lost multiple times.

    Fyi, we had prebooked our tickets and had a plan of attack–both recommended. I also had a sock in progress and took a break at one point in some random medieval painting gallery. A sort of “I knit so I don’t kill people” respite

  • Thank you for the lovely birthday treat which I only discovered a few days later (how did I miss it?!?) Every one of your pieces is a treat. I was fortunate enough to see the ML in the early 80s when it was actually approachable. Very much agree that museums are best appreciated slowly and in small chunks. The Louvre, like other large collections, has many treasures only waiting to be found by open eyes. Thanks for sharing your discoveries with us!

  • Thanks for bringing up my memories! In 1965 I visited the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. No selfies were taken as the camera my dad loaned me couldn’t be used indoors but he did teach me to use a light meter and set the f-stop. Then 20+ years later, on my only trip to Chicago, I spent 2 whole days at the Art Institute. I do remember being so overwhelmed by the artworks that I had to take breaks (sometimes weeping!) I don’t have any selfies from there either. Thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts, Franklin. It’s always a delight for me.

  • Again a great read Franklin -always a joy to read your articles. And love the socks xx

  • Franklin, I love you! I love your writing style, your snarky commentary as you guide us through the maze of The Louvre. Three knitting buds were in Paris in April, but we didn’t even try the Louvre. Maybe someday. If I ever go, I will take my knitting (and definitely avoid the M.L. In favor of the Richelieu wing.)

  • That was a very fun trip to Paris and the Louvre! THankyou

  • Actuellement once you pass the Mona Lisa la grande gallery du Denon is not crowded at all. They are plenty of restrooms on all the levels and one place you forgot is the studio with plenty of benches, books, crayons, and a small convenient restroom.

    • Another good place to knit – despite being in Denon – is the Spanish galleries: they have little upholstered window seats with views over the Tuileries.

  • I love everything Franklin Habit!! My Saturday mornings are centered around reading the MDK Snippets. If there is a bit of Franklin Habit, my day is made!

  • I love reading what Franklin Habit writes about his life in Paris. I can so identify with his delight in knitting on a comfortable seat in a public place in beautiful surroundings—bliss.

  • Best Louvre tour ever! Thank-you. (Last time I was there, we concluded that the French never pee)

  • What an entirely charming dispatch, thank you!

  • I think this is your best letter yet! Thanks so much. (It was so much nicer to travel before cell phones and selfies!)

  • Love reading what you are doing in Paris and seeing your tour, for us, of the Louvre. I have been in line but with a tour group with a guide holding a flag. Better to go on your own . Question: why are museum’s so tiring to walk around; it’s slow walking and stopping to look at art . Nothing more than that? Snails pace. Thanks Franklin, it’s always enjoyable to know what interesting sites you have for us.

  • Franklin. You have my heart. I visited Paris in 2009 — yes, I know that was a while ago — in the early fall, and even then, the Louvre was impossible. We could get in without a ticket, but we still got caught up in the river of people going to see the Mona Lisa when all they wanted to do once they got there was to take a selfie. On the way out of there, we passed that wonderful Leonardo portrait of the lady with the rabbit, and absolutely no-one stopped for a second. I did. I interrupted the flow! I majored in art history, and hate crowds, so at that point off we went to exactly the places you went! Even then. What a difference. Quiet. Time to really look at things. I distinctly remember the things you posted in your photos. Those galleries were a revelation. I’m so glad you’ve found those spaces to knit in and bask in. Just a side comment. My absolute favorite museum in Paris was the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs. Extraordinary things to look at. No crowds. Wonderful views out the windows. I was in total heaven there. Thanks for such good memories of Paris. Continue to enjoy. And if you ever want to go to Edinburgh — it’s just a quick hop across the Channel — (well kind of, you usually have to transfer in Heathrow, or Amsterdam, or Frankfurt (my favorite) — be in touch. It’s my favorite city in the world, with extraordinary things to see. And wonderful food. And a centuries-long tradition in weaving and knitting.

  • Brilliant! Thanks

  • Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! You combined two of my favourite things: art and knitting. Oh, how I wish I could knit with you in the Louvre, or, honestly anywhere. Thank you for letting us share your lovely knitting adventures in the Louvre! Adieu!

  • My mom and I took my first ever trip to Paris back in May (she’s been before) and we visited the Louvre. I walked by the “must-see’s” out of obligation, wondering why barely anyone even recognized Venus, and marveling at the mob of people taking photos of Starry Night, apparently not even noticing that it’s not even *the* version they’ve likely seen before. We spent many hours in silent, empty wings, completely alone for long stretches. As an art major, my mom recognized endless famous paintings most people breezed by without a second glance. I had just completely a college year of oil painting, making my visit rich as well. We also got a kick out of the gallery of picture frames op the top floor in the back (couldn’t tell you exactly where as we never looked at our map). I’m sure we found many of your favorite spots, a welcome change from the rooms of endless posed selfies where I thought my eyes would pop out from rolling them so much.

  • I’m glad to see that I’m not the only museum knitter. I love going to the V&A in London and taking my knitting along. I love knitting in the courtyard (weather permitting) and cast courts, plus other wonderful spots to knit and gaze on beautiful objects.

  • This was wonderful! I’m just back from a week in Paris and loved it. Of course we went to the Louvre and, thanks to our travel director, had an amazing time. I wouldn’t want to venture into the Louvre on my own! So huge, so crowded, so overwhelming! One of the areas that intrigued me the most was the former moat that had been built around the Louvre when it was a castle. Now it’s a walkway where you can touch the stones and see the inscriptions scratched into the rocks by the stone masons. I thought of Franklin often during my week and I so wish that I had seen him. Highly improbable, I know. Thanks for this flashback to the largest museum in the world!!

  • Thank you
    An enjoyable read.

  • Franklin you’re killing me. I can’t tell you, I won’t tell you, how many years I am 77, I have tried to knit$&#@! Socks and only make it to the &$#@! Heel or I am very ably give up in a tied of tears and broken 2.25 rosewood needles. Your sock is fabulous of course and I see that you have turned the*$#&@!? Heel and done so beautifully. You’ve given me hope to drag forward with tears in my eyes Kleenex is stuck in my nose and a brand new pair of metal 2.25 needles. I shall start from the toe up as I change of venue. Thank you for your tour you’re wonderful sense of humor be safe and be well.

  • You do not exaggerate about the overexcitement about the Mona Lisa. I would add that she’s terribly disappointing when/if you do get to see her, and La Louvre has so much more to offer. Likewise the portrait of Whistler’s Mother at the Musée d’Orsay. Glad that you’re safe, hopefully also well.

  • The Assyrian stuff was my husband’s favorite and was not exhibited for probably 20 years until the Louvre was finished it’s renovation. When we lived there and had LOTS of visitors, I could do a tour of the top 5 because the rest is just too much for people. Joan (have taken several of your classes.

  • Wonderful post! Have you tried knitting outdoors in the garden at Le Petit Palais?

  • Witty is an understatement! This was a delightful read and made me want to go immediately to the Louvre (or nearest museum) and knit!

  • Yay!!!!!
    Beautiful nekkid people.
    Thank you… a gorgeous and lovely brain break from “the fear of nekkid people” over here across the pond.
    Off to the Wadsworth to knit in full view of nekkid people and other beauteous objet d’art and painted canvasses and… and …

  • I look forward to Letters from Paris. Extremely Entertaining!

  • Have you seen the sculpture of Penelope spinning/weaving/let’s call it knitting at the Musee D’Orsay? Lovely.

  • To be fair I might be a bit sweaty if I was looking at allegorical nude people all day, even if I was the one painting them ;-). Amazing how much effort obviously went into perfecting that stone nightie that nobody is looking at! I love your stories so much. Thanks for sharing with us <3.

  • Franklin Honey-
    Whenever I really need my spirits lifted, I find myself looking for you, whether it be FB, Instagram or any article you’ve ever written!
    Thank You Again for all you do and Share!!!
    Love you to Pieces,
    Better than any other Parisian Deelli g Mieces!!!

  • I’ve loved all your articles on MDK (you won me over with the “In the Kitchen With Francatelli” series!) but your Letters from Paris make my day every time they arrive!!!

  • Dear Franklin, hope you are feeling well on this finally cool day here in the City of Light. As a comrade Ami, I went knitting in the Louvre recently, and made the wonderful discovery that the Campana’s “study rooms” are open, with lovely desks and chairs! Unoccupied when I visited except my myself and a young student, who may have actually been studying the ceramics style of the “master of the elbows akimbo.”

  • I just could not go away your web site before suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual information an individual provide on your guests? Is gonna be again regularly to check up on new posts.

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