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Table of Contents
- Louvre Museum Guide
- Why Visit the Louvre
- Louvre Opening Hours [2020-21]
- Best Time for Visiting the Louvre [2020-21]
- Is it Worth Visiting the Louvre during the Free Saturday Night Session? [2020-21]
- How to Visit the Louvre After Lockdown [Summer 2020]
- Map of Louvre Entrances & Best Entrance to the Louvre [2020-21]
- Skip the Lines Louvre [2020-21]
- Inside the Louvre: the 3 Louvre Wings (Take a Louvre Map!)
- Best Way to See the Louvre [2020-21]
- Top Things to See at the Louvre (Best Louvre Artwork)
- Enjoy the Louvre Palace
- Other Louvre Tips and Tricks
Louvre Museum Guide
Despite we prefer talking about lesser-known places in Paris we understand that the Louvre Museum is on many people’s Paris Checklist during their first trip to Paris. Actually, even if we are locals in Paris, we also enjoy visiting the Louvre from time to time, especially during winter in Paris when it’s too cold outside.
After visiting the Louvre many times – for general visits or to visit a specific Louvre section – we have put together this quick Louvre Guide with the latest information, a Louvre map of Louvre entrances, and our best Louvre tips. Use this Louvre Museum Guide to plan your Louvre visit and decide what to see.
TIP: We propose to visit the Louvre Museum in all our Paris Itineraries. Check out how to fit the Louvre Museum easily on a trip to Paris for 2 days, Paris in 3 days, Paris in 4 days, and Paris in 5 days.
GOOD TO KNOW: This Louvre Museum Guide contains general information for the season 2020-21. The chapters marked [2020-21] do not take into account the restrictions due to the lockdown easing in France. If you are visiting the Louvre this summer, check out the specific information for this period, marked [summer 2020].
Why Visit the Louvre
Why visit the Louvre? Haters will tell you to skip the Louvre Museum because it’s expensive, and the lines are long. But the 10 million people who pay for visiting the Louvre annually are no fools carried along by clichés.
The Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum and also the most visited. The museum houses a collection of more than 35,000 works of art spread over 60,000 square meters that spans from ancient civilizations from the 6th century BC to the 19th century. If you have a minimum of interest in arts, you should be able to find something that you like when you visit the Louvre!
Thanks to the Louvre’s glass pyramid, designed by the Chinese architect M. Pei, the Louvre Museum is also one of the most iconic monuments of Paris and France and one of the favorite photo spots in Paris for photographers. When it gets dark, the illuminated Louvre pyramid is a must-see of Paris at night!
Some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures can be found in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa, the Venus of Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, or the Coronation of Napoleon I are just a few names.
The Louvre is also part of the history of France. The Louvre was built in the 12th century by King Philippe Auguste II as his royal palace. Over the years, the Louvre Palace was a symbol of the wealth, power, and decadence of the French monarchy. Today, people visiting the Louvre still can see parts of the different periods of the Louvre Palace, from the medieval Louvre to the apartments of Napoleon iii.
Louvre Opening Hours [2020-21]
When can you visit the Louvre? The Louvre opens every day except Tuesday.
» The Louvre opening hours are from 9 am to 6 pm.
» On Wednesday and on Friday the museum also has a night session, from 6 pm to 9.45 pm.
» Since January 2019, there is also a night session, from 6 pm to 9.45 pm, on the first Saturday of the month.
» The museum closes on 1st January, 1st May and on 25th December (public holidays).
Best Time for Visiting the Louvre [2020-21]
» The best day for visiting the Louvre depends on the season (low season or high season). Generally speaking, it is a good idea to visit the Louvre during the week rather than during the weekend.
» Since the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays see a higher flow of visitors. Therefore, the best days to visit the Louvre are Mondays and Thursdays.
» What is the best time for visiting the Louvre? Arrive early in the morning, before the museum’s opening.
» Wednesday evening is also a good option for visiting the Louvre, especially during the low season. Friday evening is not convenient because it is when the weekenders arrive.
» The tables below do not consider the free night sessions on the first Saturday of the month. The Saturday night session is the time slot with more crowds.
Is it Worth Visiting the Louvre during the Free Saturday Night Session? [2020-21]
Since 2019 the Louvre Museum offers the possibility to visit the Louvre for free every first Saturday of the month from 6 pm to 9.45 pm – before it was the first Sunday of the month, all day. Is this free Saturday night session at the Louvre worth it? Last Saturday 5th October we decided to visit the Louvre at night to find it out for this Louvre Guide…
We arrived at the Carrousel du Louvre entrance around 5.30 pm and we started to wait in line. In the past, we have visited the Louvre many times during free Sunday sessions and the average waiting time to get through the security check was 40 minutes. This time, we had to wait for 1 hour.
This is probably because the time window for visiting the Louvre for free has been reduced from 9 hours to 3.5 hours so all the people who want to visit the Louvre for free plan to enter at 6 pm to have a decent amount of time for the visit.
VISITING THE LOUVRE
Once we were in, we were disappointed to learn that we could not visit the Richelieu Wing. During free Saturday night sessions, the Richelieu Wing is available only through a (free) guided visit by the École du Louvre and other Louvre’s teams. This guided visit, subject to availability, must be booked in advance through the museum’s Facebook page and we totally missed it. Bookings usually open 10 days before the night event.
Also, during this free Saturday night, all the second floor (paintings Northern Europe and paintings France) is closed to the public.
In the end, our Louvre visit was limited to three floors of the Sully Wing and Denon Wing (see the yellow marks on the Louvre map):
So what did we miss during this free Saturday Night at the Louvre?
- Sculptures of France
- Cabinet of Paintings and Drawings
- Near Eastern Antiquities (some rooms)
- Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas
- Paintings of Spain
- Italian Paintings (some rooms)
- The Galerie d’Apollon
- The Pavillion de l’Horloge
- Greek and Roman Antiquities (some rooms)
- Decorative Arts /Europe
- Napoleon III Apartments
- All the second floor (Northern Europe paintings and France paintings)
During our visit, we found the Louvre more crowded than ever. This is probably because of the reduced time window to visit the Louvre for free but also because all the visitors were concentrated in lesser rooms. Some rooms were really crowded!
FREE SATURDAY NIGHT SESSION: OUR VERDICT
We cannot say that we enjoyed visiting the Louvre that Saturday night, it was more crowded than ever and – due to time restriction and room closures – we could not see all that we wanted to see that day.
In addition, we found that some rooms were not well illuminated at night and some Louvre artwork – or artwork descriptions – were difficult to read or appreciate under the moonlight.
However, things are not black or white. If you are not that interested in Arts and you just want to visit the Louvre for a couple of hours to see some beautiful artwork and to tick the Louvre off your Pairs bucket list, this Saturday night session for free will work just fine. If you are passionate about art and you are looking forward to seeing some specific artworks, you might be disappointed if the rooms are closed or too crowded.
How to Visit the Louvre After Lockdown [Summer 2020]
After 3 months of closure, the Louvre Museum re-opens on 6 July 2020. In this Louvre Guide, you can read about the General Hygiene and Safety Regulations followed by all the museums and attractions in the region of Paris  but also about the specific regulations for visiting the Louvre Museum during this summer 2020.
LOUVRE OPENING HOURS
During summer 2020 the Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 am to 6 pm. The night time slots of Wednesday and Friday are not proposed by the Louvre during this summer 2020.
BOOK YOUR TIME SLOT ONLINE
During summer 2020 visitors need to book a time slot in advance online. Visitors entitled to free admission also need to do this process, like if they were purchasing a ticket, but the cost at the end of the process will be 0€.
During the low season, there may be a limited number of time slots available to purchase on-site the same day but only booking online can guarantee your entrance to the museum on a specific day.
During summer 2020 only two entrances will be available: the Pyramid, where there will be one line per each time slot, and the Richelieu entrance for groups or visitors with member cards. The Carrousel entrance will remain closed until September 2020.
Small guided groups (up to 25 people) are accepted in the Louvre.
Signs placed around the museum will guide visitors to avoid overcrowding. The Mona Lisa is always on display but visitors will enter the room through one door and exit through another door.
During summer 2020 the following rooms will be closed until further notice: French Sculptures of the Middle Ages and Renaissance; Decorative arts during the Renaissance, and the 18th and 19th century; Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas; lower level of the Islamic Art department; and level 2 of the French and Northern European painting collections.
Map of Louvre Entrances & Best Entrance to the Louvre [2020-21]
This chapter does not apply for visits during summer 2020. Read the chapter ‘How to Visit the Louvre After Lockdown [Summer 2020]’ instead
We are tired of reading Skip the Line Louvre posts that claim to be updated and propose Porte des Lions as the best entrance to the Louvre to skip the line. Porte des Lions is not a Louvre fast track entrance. Porte des Lions is NOT the best Louvre entrance. Porte des Lions is used by guided groups only and individual visitors are not allowed to use this entrance to the Louvre.
There are 5 official entrances to the Louvre, shown on the Map of the Louvre Entrances here below: Porte des Lions, the glass Pyramid, through the Louvre Carrousel and Passage Richelieu.
Map of Louvre Entrances [2020-21]
» The Pyramid is the main Louvre entrance and it can be used by anybody. In the Pyramid, there are different lines: individual visitors without a ticket (yellow line), individual visitors with a skip the line ticket (green line), individual visitors with a ticket, or the Paris Museum Pass (orange line).
» The Pyramid is also the entrance to the Louvre Museum for disabled visitors, pregnant women, or visitors with mobility issues. These visitors enter through a special line (blue line) and have access to the lift down to the main hall.
» Visitors with a Louvre Museum Pass (and any other special Louvre pass) enter through Passage Richelieu entrance.
» Guided groups enter through Porte des Lions entrance.
» Galerie du Carrousel (99 rue de Rivoli) is another of the Louvre entrances that can be used by anybody. The advantage of this Louvre entrance is direct access from the Parisian metro (station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, line 1). Also, this is the best Louvre entrance to wait in line during rainy days in Paris.
Skip the Lines Louvre [2020-21]
How to skip the line at the Louvre? First of all, let us tell you that zero lines is not possible because all the museums in Paris have a security control check (the Louvre entrances have a scanner and a metal detector).
In this chapter, we will tell you how to avoid the longest lines at the Louvre so you can use your precious time in something else better than waiting in line.
READ MORE – Skip the line at Main Paris Tourist Attractions
Choose the Best Time to Visit the Louvre
If you’ve made it this far, you should know by now the most crowded days and time slots to visit the Louvre. Choose the best day and time slot during your days in Paris and you will get shorter lines and lesser crowds. Well begun is half done!
Buy a Paris Tourist Pass
A Paris tourist pass allows visitors to save lots of time and money thanks to their Paris skip the line tickets and many discounts. Paris City Pass and Paris Museum Pass are the most popular tourist passes in Paris but there are many more! Check out our Paris Pass Comparison to have the full picture.
Buy Skip the Line Louvre Tickets or Tours
If you want to visit only a few Paris tourist places but still you hate the idea of wasting your time waiting in line, then the smartest option is to buy separate Paris skip the line tickets or tours.
Get Your Guide proposes interesting skip-the-line tickets and tours that always get the best ratings. We recommend buying your Louvre skip the line tickets or tours with Get Your Guide because you can cancel up to 24 hours and get a full refund!
Best Get Your Guide Louvre tickets and tours which are fully refundable:
- Louvre priority entrance with audio guide – free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
- Must-Sees of the Louvre skip the line 1.5 hr guided tour – free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
- Louvre 3hr comprehensive skip the line guided tour – free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
We recommend visiting the Louvre with a small group guided tour. The truth is that a guided tour with a knowledgeable guide is a temptation difficult to resist in one of the best museums in the world!
Inside the Louvre: the 3 Louvre Wings (Take a Louvre Map!)
The treasures of the Louvre are exhibited in the museum’s three interconnected wings: Richelieu Wing, Denon Wing, and Sully Wing, clearly marked on the map of the Louvre.
In addition, the Museum’s inner courtyards are used to display the biggest sculptures.
The 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.
Taking a Louvre Map is paramount for visiting the Louvre. You can find all the Louvre sections by floor and wings on the Louvre map.
On the Louvre Map, you can see that Denon Wing is the wing facing the Seine River. Denon Wing is named after M. Denon (1747-1825), the first director of Musée du Louvre. It is in Denon Wing where visitors find important artworks such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci or The Winged Victory of Samothrace.
If you want to concentrate on one Louvre Wing only, we suggest visiting the Denon Wing.
As you can see on the Map of Louvre, the Sully Wing is located between the Denon Wing and the Richelieu Wing.
The Sully Wing is named after M. Sully (1559-1641), Chief Minister of King Henri IV. In the Sully Wing, visitors can find the Medieval Louvre, as well as the Egyptian Antiquities or the Venus of Milo.
On the Louvre Map, you can see the Richelieu Wing facing rue de Rivoli. The Richelieu Wing is named after Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), Chief Minister of King Louis XIII. In Richelieu Wing visitors can find, amongst other Louvre artwork, the French paintings and sculptures, Napoleon III apartments, and the Near Eastern Antiquities.
Louvre Construction Works [2019 – 2021]
Several construction projects are currently underway in the Louvre Museum. These works are significantly affecting the visitor experience in the Louvre’s most popular rooms, without access to some important artworks. Here’s the list of the main rooms affected by the Louvre construction works:
» Salle Daru (Denon wing, 1st floor, room 702). This room is closed until November 2019. Unavailable works include: – David’s Coronation of Napoleon – David’s Oath of the Horatii – Girodet’s Entombment of Atala
» Galerie d’Apollon (Denon wing, 1st floor, room 705). This room is closed from March to December 2019. Unavailable works include: – The Crown diamond and jewel collection
» Etruscan and Italic collections (Sully wing, 1st floor, rooms 660 to 663 and room 650 (Denon wing, ground floor, rooms 420, 421 and 423). These rooms are closed from April 2019 to January 2021.
» Mastaba chapel (Sully wing, ground floor, rooms 332 and 333). These rooms are closed until July 2020.
Best Way to See the Louvre [2020-21]
We are sorry to say that it is impossible to visit the entire Louvre in one day. Actually, if you spent one minute seeing each Louvre artwork, it would take you 64 days to see everything in the entire museum! If you want to get the most out of your day at the 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.
So what is the best way to see the Louvre?
In our opinion there are five ways for visiting the Louvre:
1- Enter the museum and start walking through galleries and galleries randomly. This is not definitely what we recommend to do in a huge museum like the Louvre.
2- Follow the experts at your own pace with a Louvre Museum audio guide or a phone app. You can buy your skip the line Louvre ticket + audio guide online in advance and you pick up the audio guide when you arrive at the museum. Remember to grab a map of Louvre at the main hall.
3- Join a small group Skip the Line Louvre guided tour and get the most out of Louvre with a professional Louvre guide.
4- Make your own wishlist of best things to see at the Louvre, study it at home with the help of the interactive Map of the Louvre here and try to make an itinerary which makes sense from a logistics point of view to avoid walking unnecessary kilometers.
5- Pick specific a department (e.g. Italian Paintings) and focus your attention on this department only to get the most out of it. This is our best way to see the Louvre because we are locals in Paris and we can go to visit the Louvre whenever we want. This way of visiting the Louvre is also perfect for Paris frequent travelers or people interested in a specific subject.
Whatever you decide, grab a paper Louvre Map at your arrival, take a break from time to time and use the toilets when you see them (I never find the toilets when I really need them, lol).
Top Things to See at the Louvre (Best Louvre Artwork)
If you are visiting Paris for a few days probably you don’t want to block a full day of your Paris itinerary for a single museum, especially when the weather outside is good. Or maybe you 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 artwork bucket list at home by surfing the web a little bit. If you need some help to decide what to see at the Louvre, this Louvre Guide comes with some lists of the must-see at the Louvre.
Best of Louvre Artwork (Louvre Museum’s List)
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 Babylon
- Leaf of a Diptych: the Emperor Triumphant
- Dürer’s Self-Portrait Holding a Thirster
- The Rape of the Sabine Women
- Winged Human-Headed Bull
Top Things to See at the Louvre (CNN’s List)
To honor Louvre’s 220th anniversary, CNN asked its users through its Instagram account what were the top Louvre Attractions. Here is the list of CNN’s top ten things to see at the Louvre:
- The Winged Victory of Samothrace
- Mona Lisa
- Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
- 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
- The Virgin of the Rocks
- The Lacemaker
World in Paris’ Best Things to See at Louvre
Our favorite Louvre Artwork list would be a mix of the two lists above plus some other Primitive Italian artworks (Duccio, Cimabue), and something by Caravaggio.
In our Top Louvre Artwork list, we could also add the oldest exposed item: the statue of Aïn Ghazal dated around 7000 BC (Sully Wing, Ground Floor, Levant Hall D).
Finally, we would complete the list with the most bizarre item exposed, the Hermaphrodite (Sully Wing, Ground Floor Salle des Caryatides Hall 17).
The Louvre Palace was designed in the 12th century as a fortress to prevent invasions from the north. The Medieval Louvre included bastions at each corner, a surrounding moat, and a massive, fortified tower (or keep) at its center.
Today people visiting the Louvre 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 were constructed on the outskirts of Paris. For this reason, the royal fortress ceased to be used for defensive purposes and 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 Palace’s rooms are public museum space. An exception is Napoleon III large and luxurious apartment, which has been kept intact and it’s really something to see. Highlights of this apartment include a couple of large salons where then nephew of Napoleon I 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 of Palais du Louvre 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 history.
Other Louvre Tips and Tricks
Louvre Dress Code: Dress Like an Onion
What to wear to the Louvre? There is no Louvre dress code, you can wear what you want to the Louvre. Just have in mind that you are going to walk A LOT. Bring comfortable shoes. And dress in layers, like an onion!
Inside the Louvre Museum is very warm plus some areas of the Louvre are very crowded. The layers thing is especially good in wintertime, when it is very cold outside and very warm inside.
Bring your Own Snacks and Water
Inside the Louvre there are a couple of restaurants but they are overpriced. If you are traveling on a budget, the best idea is to bring your own snacks and water.
Eating inside the Louvre rooms and halls is forbidden but 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 again to go back to the exhibition areas. You can drink water wherever you want.
TIP: fans of Angelina Paris tearoom will be happy to know that there is an Angelina Louvre with no line! Angelina Louvre is located at Richelieu wing, 1st floor, between the Napoleon III Apartments and Decorative Arts galleries.
Beware of Pickpockets
We never had any problem in the Louvre but it seems that 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 the Louvre Museum More than Once (If You Can)
If you are really interested in Arts, you will have to visit the Louvre Museum again to enjoy some other paintings and sculptures that you missed during the previous visit. Paris is always a good idea and another visit to the Louvre may be the perfect excuse to come back to Paris 😉
We hope that you found this Louvre Museum Guide useful. Remember to plan your Louvre visit well for the shortest lines and the best experience inside!
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