5 tips to visit the Louvre Museum

I like to call it “The endless museum”. It can be very intimidating, venturing into the Louvre for the first time. Going through its galleries without direction or purpose is very overwhelming and one quickly becomes saturated.

I’m here to give you 5 tips, so you can organize your tailor-made visit. These recommendations are based on my own experience as an official guide, as a visitor, and on frequent questions that travelers ask me. They always tell me:

“I want to see the most important”
“What is there besides the Mona Lisa?”
“This is the biggest museum in the world, isn’t it?”

Travelers asking about the Louvre

And with more than 60,000 m², it is the largest museum in the world. Yes, there is much more than the Mona Lisa, and I wrote this article to make sure you see what is most important to you. Shall we start?

 

Take a look at the Louvre collections

It is very strange that you are really interested in EVERYTHING in the Louvre. That is why I am going to give you a screenshot of their collections, as the first step is always to do some research about it. We have 35,000 works on display organized in 8 departments:

Egyptian Antiquities

Above all funerary, among the Egyptian art of the Louvre you will find statues, papyri, vessels, bijouterie, sarcophagi, several mummified animals and a human mummy.

Near East Antiquities

Thousands of statues, friezes, and cuneiform tablets from Assyria, Babylon, and Medo-Persia. The Hammurabi Code and the Palace of Darío stand out.

Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities

Along with paintings, this is the busiest department. You will see marble and bronze statues, mosaics, and some frescoes from Pompeii.

Paintings

The largest department on display in the Louvre. You will find a wide variety of tempera and oil paintings on wood or canvas, made between the 13th and 19th centuries and from France, Italy, Spain, England, and Holland.

Graphic arts

This is a very special department: it only has one room and the works on display change every 3 months, due to the fragility of the materials. It’s like a mini temporary exhibition of prints, watercolors, and pastels.

Decorative Arts

Here you will find the most delicate objects in the museum. Relics, crowns, swords, tapestries, furniture, crockery, the crown jewels… It’s really impressive.

Islamic Arts

This department brings together decorative arts and paintings. Ideal to take a break from the West and get into another world of finesse and sophistication.

As you can see, there is a lot of variety, and the rooms are huge. It is not highly recommended to see all this in one day (it is almost impossible) so now that you know what there is to see. I suggest you choose what interests you.

Select what you want to see in the Louvre

The key, as I always say, is that you select what you want to see based on your preferences. And here the most frequent answer is “Everything interests me Dany!”. And yes, curiosity is like that. I applaud that curiosity and that desire to cultivate yourself. 

“Everything” is a valid selection, however, it is a difficult one. I, as a guide and someone who knows the museum by heart, can go through it completely in about 6 hours (I have already done it with tourists).  

However, most of us get tired and saturated sooner. Especially if you travel with children or with fellow travelers, not as involved in museums as you. That’s why I advise you to make a cut and mark on the map what you want to see.

Study the map of the Louvre Museum

We already know what there is, and what interests us. The next question, naturally, is, where is the thing I want to see? And here there is no other than to examine my favorite artifact: the map

The museum is divided into 3 wings:

  1. Richelieu: North
  2. Sully: East
  3. Denon: South

Each wing has between 2 and 3 floors, and all 3 are connected to each other. The museum map is displayed by floors, not wings, so you’ll see all three wings per level.

Underground (-2 and -1)

Richelieu: French Sculptures (Brown)

Sully: Graphic Arts (Pink), Medieval Louvre (brownish).

Denon: Italian and Dutch sculptures (brown), Greece (blue), Islamic arts (turquoise) and Coptic Egypt (mustard).

Ground floor (0)

Richelieu: French (brown) and Near Eastern (yellow) sculptures.

Sully: Near East (yellow), Egypt (green), and Greece (blue).

Denon: Italian and Dutch sculptures (brown), Greece and Rome (blue).

First floor (1)

Richelieu: Decorative Arts (violet).

Sully: Decorative arts (purple), Egypt (green), and Greece (blue).

Denon: Italian, French, English, and Spanish Paintings (red)

Second floor (2)

Richelieu: Dutch and French Paintings (red).

Sully: French Paintings (red).

Denon: There is nothing. The first floor is connected to the second (the ceiling is so high!).

Due to lack of staff, many rooms are closed from Monday to Friday (a different section each day). Saturday and Sunday, all the rooms of the museum are open. Here is the schedule until March 31, 2022. (I will update the new schedule on April 1)

Very patiently, look at the map. Read it, understand it. Locate the collections that interest you and create your provisional route.

If there is a specific work that you want to locate, I recommend you use this official interactive map, from the Louvre website. You click on a room, and it gives you a list with the cards of all the works exhibited in it. It is wonderful!

Now, there is something VERY important to resolve: the practical aspect of the visit.

Plan your visit strategically

Here are some practical aspects to take into account so that you make an intelligent visit:

 

  • Opening days: Every day except Tuesdays, from 9am to 6pm.
  • Closing days: every Tuesday of the year + January 1 + May 1 + December 25 
  • Tickets: €17 for people over 18 years old. Free for children under 17. They can be purchased directly on the Louvre website, here. Any intermediary will charge you a commission, so you can find tickets at €21 or €25.
  • Address: 10 Place du Carrousel, Louvre Museum Pyramid access
  • Access by Me­tro: Palais-Royal / Musée du Louvre (line 1 and 7), Pyramides (line 14).
  • Entrance: The Glass Pyramid, the Carrousel and Porte des Leons. Groups with a tour guide (if you buy a tour with me, for example) enter through the Richelieu passage.
  • Best day and time to go: Wednesday and Thursday, at 9am or 4pm
  • Are there tickets with discounts or promotions? NO.
  • Are skip-the-line tickets? NO.

To line or not to line

I want to be clear in this: the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. There are always people waiting to enter.It is not the ticket that gives you preferential access, it is the guide. The presence of a guide enables you to enter through a special access, but even there you must stand in line with everyone who has special access. So actually you can choose between long line and short line, but entering the museum without doing it is something very rare.

Evaluate the need for a professional guide

I’ll tell you a personal story…

Before I became a guide, I didn’t hire guides. The first time I came to the Louvre, I studied the map in the cafeteria and started alone with my audio guide. My first vacations living in Paris were to Rome, and I didn’t hire a guide there either. In the Vatican I did well, but in the Forum and the Colosseum… No.  

I realized that I handle maps and orientation very well (I never get lost, I explore) and I can read and appreciate art quite well, but not archeology. So the second time I went to Rome, I asked for a private tour (an independent guide like me) in the Archaeological Park and in the Vatican Museums. It was something else. My tourists are right when they tell me that a guide changes everything. 

Interacting with a human being that loves its job was a thousand times better than pressing buttons and listening to a little machine. Understand the language of archaeological ruins with someone who would explain it to me in my mother tongue. Including stories and curiosities, not just technical data: It was spectacular. I understood that there are times when I alone am enough, but other times I am not. Now, I like to have local professionals who transmit not only knowledge, but also emotion and passion with art.

I strongly suggest you consider this possibility in your case. As a guide, I strive to provide the same to my tourists. Tourists like me, curious people who are not satisfied with strolling through well-decorated rooms, but who want the story to be told to them. I invite you to watch the video of how I organize my visits and the free sample of my visit to the Louvre.

I hope that all this information will help you to visit the Louvre at your leisure. It is a unique museum in the world!

Dany

I’m a History & Art lover and I am very much in love with Paris…I studied Art History at the Louvre School and I became a professional tour guide because I want to share with you my passion and my love for this city. Get my FREE guide on «How to plan your trip to Paris»  now.

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