Paris is a city of unimaginable beauty, from the ancient architecture to the art-filled museums. What detracts from this beauty is what it attracts-the tourists. There are many more tourists in Paris than those who live there. Actually, this is true of all of France. Because of this fact, it is very important for all of us who visit to be the very best global citizens possible. If we make the effort, everyone will have a much more pleasant time. How to do this? Follow along and I will lead you…politely.
Use indoor voices
The Louvre is a huge place, which could take days to explore in depth. So, as you can imagine, it can become very noisy if everyone were to speak loudly. This is an enormous problem with today’s many tour groups. The noise level is made even worse with the many tourists who don’t know how to use indoor voices. If fact, on my recent visit one exceptionally quiet tour guide shushed a woman yelling for her husband to hurry up. All those around her quietly applauded.
You are there to see the art, not to be the art
Imagine walking what seems to be miles – remember the Louvre is huge – to visit your favorite piece of art only to find people lined up in front of it so their companions can take pictures of them next to the art. This is today’s Louvre. In fact, I found this egocentric behavior all over France. What should the polite person do?
If you really want to see your love’s face next to a grand piece of art, take your picture very quickly. Also, choose only one or two pieces. Allow others to see and take pictures of these grand pieces without someone else’s face in the mix.
Watch the little ones
Speaking of allowing others to see and enjoy the art, little children can also affect others’ visit. During my visit, I had little ones running around, touching pieces, and yelling through the halls. As a teacher and etiquette specialist, I found this very disturbing. In my opinion, the best parenting is accomplished by using every single teachable moment. Of course, a visit to a museum is one of the greatest teachable moments. Parents should teach their children to respect others by using indoor voices, staying with them at all times, not to run, and not to touch items that are not theirs. These are simple, basic manners rules. Come on parents…teach!
Actually, there was this one French family I observed that demonstrated excellent Louvre etiquette. In fact, the children behaved better than many of the adults around them. A mother was teaching her young children – roughly ages 5 and 7 – about art. All wore audio guides and walked slowly through the museum together. They discussed the art using hushed voices. I enjoyed this example of exemplary manners immensely. I just hope others noticed it as well.
Be good world citizens
Demonstrate how well mannered those from your country are by displaying the best of yourself. Begin by noticing your surroundings. If you find that you are walking slower than others around you, move to the side to allow others to pass.
Additionally, teach by example. For example, be helpful. If you notice an elderly person or someone in a wheelchair who cannot see a picture due to crowds blocking their view, politely ask those in the crowd to step aside.
Respect this grand museum by dressing and behaving appropriately. Don’t wear overly revealing attire or anything too loud. Use indoor voices and turn off the cell phone. After all, not many appreciate hearing multiple melodies playing around them when trying to enjoy century’s old pieces of art.
Respect other picture takers by stepping aside to allow others to get their prized shot after taking yours. Also, stay out of others’ picture.
Respect docents and staff by saying hello while smiling and thank them when requesting assistance.
Enjoy the Louvre!
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