The Louvre Museum is one of the greatest and most visited museums in the world. It displays approximately 35,000 works of art and is absolutely enormous. It is, therefore, rather difficult to know where to kick off your visit to this icomparable museum.
But never fear: Here is a list of six tips from our Louvre guide, Amber Minogue (pictured below), to help you on your next trip to this iconic museum.
But First … A Brief History of the Louvre
The Louvre was first a fortress built in 1190 which connected with the Phillip August wall. You can still see remnants of the wall in the basement of the museum.
In 1546 the Louvre became the royal French residence and extensions were made to the palace to form the building that we see to this day.
About 100 years later, Louis XIV decided that he would leave Paris and turn his grandfather’s Versailles hunting lodge into his royal palace. During this period the Louvre operated as a private art gallery for the wealthy and elite. Then, provoked by the French Revolution, it was decided that the Louvre should be opened to everyone and it has operated as a public art gallery ever since.
Now, here are six tips to help you on your next visit.
1. Buy a timed ticket ahead of your visit
The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. The museum welcomed 2.8 million visitors in 2021 and that number will surely grow as tourism continues to boom in a post-pandemic Paris.
To minimise your time waiting in a queue we advise buying a ticket ahead of time. This way you can walk straight to your preferred Louvre wing, show your ticket and start your visit.
Buy your tickets ahead of time here.
2. Know where to avoid the queues
Avoid the long security queue at the famous Pyramid entrance by going in through the Carrousel du Louvre.
The Carrousel du Louvre is an underground shopping centre in front of the Louvre and it can be accessed straight from the metro line 1 at the stop Palais Royale Musée du Louvre or from the steps that run either side of the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel.
3. Go late at night
On Fridays the Louvre is open till 9:45pm. Go out for an early dinner and then head to the Louvre to enjoy strolling the emptier halls for a couple hours.
Note: The last entry to the Louvre is an hour before closing and they’ll start to clear the rooms at about 9:15pm.
4. Don’t try to see it all
There are 35,000 paintings on display at the Louvre, you will never see them all. Imagine: if you were to look at each work of art for 30 seconds, you would need six weeks to see them all.
Take your time and if you see something you like, stick around, if you don’t care for it: move on!
5. Plan one thing you want to see and find it
There are signs everywhere leading to the Mona Lisa, so you won’t struggle to find her. But we do recommend choosing one or two works of art and going on an adventure to find them. On your way you’ll be sure to discover more. To find your favourite work you can consult the Louvre’s interactive museum floor plan here.
On our visit, we wanted to find the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Phillip August wall, plus an Arago marker, and it felt like a small successful treasure hunt to tick them all off.
We were pleased to find a range of terrific art en route to our favourites. Here are some:
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (Antonio Canova, 1787) and Sleeping Hermaphrodite On Bed (unknown)
The Wedding Feast at Cana (Paolo Veronese, 1563)
Liberty Leading the People (Eugène Delacroix, 1830) and the Venus de Milo (Alexandros of Antioch)
A score of other exceptional world famous paintings.
And, of course we spotted all the people waiting to follow in Beyonce’s steps to snap a selfie with the Mona Lisa.
6. Give the Richelieu wing a chance
The Louvre is divided into three wings: Sully, Denon and Richelieu. On our visit we spent most of our time in the Denon and Sully wings – but if you’re interested in exploring the Louvre’s quieter corners there are treasures to be found in the Richelieu wing.
In this section of the Louvre you can find spectacular French sculptures, Mesopotamian antiquities and most notably the apartment within which Napoleon III lived during his reign as emperor of France.
Bonus: Book a guide
In the podcast episode you will have heard the voice of tour guide Amber Minogue, who came up with this list you’ve just read. Amber can recreate our “gist of the Louvre” tour for you. Reach out to us on the contact section at the top of this page, let us know how many are in your group and your ideal tour date, and we can take it from there.
Practical information for the Louvre Museum
Open 9am – 6pm: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (till 9:45pm) Saturday and Sunday
Closed: Tuesdays, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
Note: The last entry is 1 hour before closing and they will begin to clear the rooms 30 minutes before closing.
Tickets range in price, check the official website for details. Those under 18, or members of the EU under 26 can enter for free! Good to know: Louvre tickets cover the whole museum and are valid the entire day, so you can come and go as you please.
Security: You will need to go through a security check, so make sure not bring any sharp items with you. You can check in your belongings and retrieve them at the end of your visit.
Metro: Palais-Royal / Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7) Pyramides (line 14)
Bus: No. 21, 27, 39, 67, 68, 69, 72, 74, 85, 95
The Earful Tower podcast episode
This podcast episode on the 1st district of Paris also includes scenes with guide Amber Minogue inside the Louvre museum, and our final score on the district out of 100.
Video guide to the 1st arrondissement
Here’s our visit, in video format, via our YouTube channel. We’ve been making one of these travel vlogs every week, so be sure to subscribe (you can do it in one click via this link).
And that’s it! A big thanks to Augusta Sagnelli for the photos.
You can find all our tips for the 1st arrondissement here and our guides to all Paris arrondissements here.
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Article by Charlotte Pleasants