last update: October 2017
Despite we love to talk about lesser-known places in Paris we understand that Louvre Museum is too special to skip it during your first trip to Paris. Actually we also enjoy visiting the Louvre from time to time! But visiting one of the biggest museums of the world can be a painful experience without a little bit of planning. As locals who have been to the Louvre many times we would like to help you with our Louvre tips (Louvre tickets, hours, artwork . .) to get the most out of this fantastic museum. This is our Louvre Museum Guide.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE LOUVRE
The Musée du Louvre, located in Paris 1, opened its doors to the public on August 10th 1793. Built in the XIIth century by king Philippe Auguste II as his royal palace, it was over the years a symbol of the wealth, power and decadence of the French monarchy. Today the Louvre is the world’s largest museum (460.000 works of art in total) and, according to TEA/AECOM Museum Index, also the most visited museum on the planet (8.7 million of visitors in 2015).
Louvre artwork covers Western art from the medieval period to 1848, formative works from the civilizations of the ancient world, and works of Islamic art.
The treasures of the Louvre are exhibited along the museum three wings: Richelieu wing, Denon wing and Sully wing. In addition, the museum inner courtyards are used to display the biggest sculptures. Art treasures of the Louvre are grouped into eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Islamic Art, Paintings; Sculptures; Decorative Arts and Prints and Drawings.
LOUVRE MUSEUM ADMISSION AND LOUVRE ENTRANCE FEE
The Louvre is open everyday except Tuesday. Louvre museum admission is from 9am to 6pm. On Wednesday and on Friday the museum also has a night session, from 6pm to 9.45pm. The museum closes on 1st May and on 25th December (public holidays).
Louvre entrance fee costs 15€ (17€ if bought online). However, in some cases, you can visit the Louvre for free:
» Always free under 18;
» Louvre free under 26 if you are living in one of the UE countries (bring a proof of residence with you);
» Louvre free on Sundays (every first Sunday of the month, from October to March);
» During special events, like the Museums’ Night (end of May – beginning of June) all the visitors can visit the Louvre for free;
» On 14th of July (France’s National Day) all the visitors can visit the Louvre for free.
Where to buy Louvre tickets? You can buy your Louvre tickets at the museum itself, online (Louvre’s website or Paris Museum Pass’ website) and in stores in Paris like FNAC France.
HOW TO SKIP THE LINE AT LOUVRE
First of all let us tell you that zero line is not possible because all the museums in Paris have a security control (Louvre has a scanner and a metal detector). BUT the line can be more or less long depending on different factors.
Consider Louvre Electronic Tickets
We always suggest to buy Louvre e tickets previously online at museum’s website. This is something that you can do it at home, with no rush, once you have planned your trip to Paris.Louvre Electronic tickets cost 17€, are time-stamped and nominative so an identity document may be demanded.
Louvre e tickets are valid only for the chosen service, date and time. It is not a queue jump but gives access to the pyramid within half an hour of the time shown on the ticket. If you arrive to the pyramid later than your time slot you won’t loose your ticket but you will be subject to the same admission and waiting conditions as visitors without tickets.
If e tickets is not your thing, you can also buy Louvre tickets in advance in Paris, at any FNAC shop. Also you will have to choose a specific day and time. Finally, if you still don’t know when you want to visit the Louvre, you can always buy the tickets inside the museum.
Another thing which is in vogue now is to buy the Paris Museum Pass. The Paris Museum Pass offers visitors free and direct access to 55 of Paris top attractions and museums in Paris, Louvre Museum included. The Paris Museum Pass is a very good deal for some visitors while for others is a waste of money. If you are thinking about buying the Paris Museum Pass to visit the Louvre, we suggest to read our review and decide what is best for your overall stay in Paris, not only for the Louvre Museum.
Best day to visit Louvre
The best day to visit Louvre depends on many factors. Usually weekends and holidays are busier than weekdays. Also, visiting the Louvre during lower season will be more comfortable than during high season. Rainy or cold days are very good for museums while people prefer to enjoy the streets of Paris during sunny days.
If you decide to buy Louvre electronic tickets you need to choose a specific day and time slot when you purchase the tickets. In this case we suggest you to read our Avoid the lines in Paris tourist attractions post, where we give the best day and the best time slot to visit the main tourist attractions in Paris.
Louvre entrance tips
» The Louvre has 5 official entrances: Porte des Lions, the glass Pyramid, through the Louvre Carroussel and Passage Richelieu.
» Individual visitors with advance tickets (Paris Museum Pass included) enter via the Pyramid.
» Louvre Museum Pass entrance (and other Louvre passes) is Passage Richelieu.
» Visitors without advance tickets can go through any entrance.
» Disabled visitors or visitors with mobility issues enter through a special line at the Pyramid without having to queue. The Pyramid has a lift to the main hall.
LOUVRE DRESS CODE: DRESS APPROPRIATELY
There is no Louvre dress code, you can wear what you want. Just have in mind that you are going to walk A LOT. Bring comfortable shoes. Dress in layers, like an onion. Some areas of the Louvre are very crowded and warm while some corridors or lesser known areas are colder.
BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS AND WATER
There are a couple of restaurants inside the Louvre but they are overpriced. If you are traveling on a budget, the best idea is to bring your own snacks and water. There are a couple of benches at the central hall, just before the tickets control, and nobody will bother you if you are eating a sandwich or a snack there. Once you are done and with some energy back, show your tickets to enter the exhibition area again.
HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR VISIT
We are sorry to say that it is impossible to visit all the Louvre in one day. Actually if you spent one minute seeing each piece of art, it would take you 64 days to see everything in the entire museum. So to get the most out of your day at Louvre YOU NEED A PLAN.
The collection is grouped into eight Departments: Paintings, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Islamic Art and Prints & Drawings. There are 403 rooms in total, 14.5 km of rooms and corridors and 72.735 m2 of exhibition spaces.
In our opinion there are four ways to visit the Louvre on your own (for us the “follow the umbrella” visits are not an option):
1- Enter the museum and start walking through galleries and galleries randomly. This is not definitely what we recommend in a huge museum like the Louvre.
2- Follow the experts at your own path with an audio guide or a phone app. You can buy your audio guide online in advance but you will need to queue to pick it up when you arrive at the museum. Instead, Louvre has official applications for free that you can download at home. Warning: while the content is great this audio guide/app option may put you on the same track than many other tourists.
3- Make your own wish list, study it at home with the help of Louvre’s interactive plans and make your own (logistically smart) itinerary to avoid walking unnecessary kilometres.
4- Pick one department and focus your attention only on this department to get the most out of it. That’s our favorite way to visit the Louvre because we live in Paris and we can go to visit the rest of the museum whenever we want. It can also be perfect for Louvre second, third-timers or people interested (expert) in a specific subject.
Whatever you decide, pick a paper map at your arrival, take some breaks from time to time and use the bathroom when you see them (I never find a bathroom when I really need it, lol).
WHAT TO SEE AT THE LOUVRE IN 2 HOURS
If you are visiting Paris for a few days, probably you don’t want to block a full day for a single museum, even if it is the Louvre! Or maybe your are not that interested in Arts but still you want to get a glimpse of the best museum in the world during your first trip to Paris. In both cases, two hours is a decent amount of time to see some of the main art treasures of the Louvre without finishing exhausted.
The museum’s website displays the best pieces of art for each department, with a short description and picture, so you can make your own Louvre bucket list at home by surfing the web a little bit. If you need some help to decide what to see, here are some Louvre tips.
Louvre Museum’s Suggestions
The Louvre has its own selection of masterpieces that you can check on their website. There are 24 artworks in total :
Located at Sully Wing
Venus de Milo; Frieze of Archers; The Marly Horses; Louis XIV Portrait; The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds; The Seated Scribe;
Located at Denon Wing
Diamond known as “the Regent”; July 28: Liberty Leading the People; Mona Lisa; Portrait of a Woman Known as “The European”; The Consecration of Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine on December 2, 1804; The Coronation of the Virgin; The Lacemaker; The Raft of the Medusa; The Rebellious Slave; The Wedding Feast at Cana; The Winged Victory of Samothrace; Une Odalisque; Woman with a Mirror.
Located at Richelieu Wing
Law Code of Hammurabi King of Babylone; Leaf of a Dyptich: the Emperor Triumphant; Dürer’s Self-Portrait Holding a Thilster; The Rape of the Sabine Women; Winged Human-Headed Bull;
To honour Louvre’s 220th anniversary, CNN asked through its Instagram account what were users’ favorite artworks in Louvre. Here is the list of CNN’s 10 most popular artworks (from 1st to 10th):
The Winged Victory of Samothrace; Mona Lisa; Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (Denon Wing); The Louvre Building; The Raft of the Medusa; The Consecration of Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine on December 2, 1804; Venus de Milo; The Young Martyr (Denon Wing); The Virgin of the Rocks (Denon Wing); The Lacemaker (Richelieu Wing).
World in Paris’ Suggestions
Our favorite list would be a mix of the two lists above plus some other Primitive Italian artworks (Duccio, Cimabue), and something by Caravaggio. We could also add the oldest exposed item, the statue of Aïn Ghazal dated around 7000 BC (Sully Wing, Ground Floor, Levant Hall D) and the most bizarre item exposed, the Hermaphrodite (Sully Wing, Ground Floor Salle des Caryatides Hall 17), look for it and try to guess why 😉
ENJOY A PALACE WITH A RICH HISTORY
The Louvre was designed in the XIIth century as a fortress to prevent invasions from the north. The arsenal included bastions at each corner, a surrounding moat and a massive, fortified tower (or keep) at its center. Today visitors still can view the remains of part of the fortress’ medieval masonry in the 13th century Salle Basse, or Lower Hall.
In the 14th century, the city had spread far beyond its borders and a new series of defenses was constructed on the outskirts of Paris. For this reason, the royal fortress ceased to be used for defensive purposes in it was razed to make way for a lavish royal residence in Renaissance style. With King Francis I dozens of new wings and freestanding buildings were constructed at the site. These buildings were eventually connected by a series of galleries and pavilions giving the building its unifying facade.
Today most of the Louvre’s rooms are public museum space. An exception is Napoleon’s large and luxurious apartment, which has been kept intact and it’s really something to see. Highlights include a couple large salons where Napoleon III met his European counterparts and other important people and the dining room. Like in any other palace-visit, don’t forget to look up: some of the ceilings in galleries and halls are very impressive.
If you want to know more about the Louvre itself, the palace, its history, missions and the kings who actually lived there, visit Le Pavillon de l’Horloge. Located in renovated historic areas between the Cour Carrée and the Cour Napoléon and opened only since 2016 this new area welcomes visitors with Interactive models, digital displays, films, and artworks to tell the Louvre’s story.
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS
We never had any problem in Louvre but it seems pickpockets are an issue in this museum. Never leave your bag unattended and if somebody comes to you asking for your email or a donation just ignore him and walk away, it is a scam.
VISIT MORE THAN ONCE (IF YOU CAN)
If you are really interested in Arts, you will have to come again to enjoy some other sections or other Louvre artwork that you missed during the previous visit. Paris is always a good idea and another visit to the Louvre is the perfect excuse to come back to Paris 😉
Have you been to the Louvre Museum? Would you have some additional Louvre tips for our Louvre Museum Guide?
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