Tips We Louvre: How to make the most of your time at The Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

How to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre

Spoiler Alert: The Louvre is big. Gargantuan, really. 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet) of big. For anyone who loves art and antiquities, it’s nirvana. But it bears repeating: it’s a really big nirvana. So we’ve put together our top five personally tested Louvre tips to help you make the most of your visit to the world’s largest museum.

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

The expansive Musee du Louvre, as seen from atop l’Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. (Photo: Musee du Louvre)

A Little Louvre History

The Louvre is also astounding, both as a complex and as a museum. What seems like one large building today is the result of centuries of building, rebuilding, remodeling and restoration. One thing is certain: Phillip II would not recognize what his 13th Century fortress has grown into. The original dungeon and towering walls were built into a chateau by the 15th Century, and then demolished in the 16th Century for a Renaissance building that was never completed.

Meanwhile, Catherine de Medicis built a chateau nearby, and named it Tuileries. Eventually, the Louvre and Palais des Tuileries were joined by several buildings to make one royal residence. The most important of the new structures was the Grande Galerie, built by Henry IV along the Seine River.

By the late 1800s, much of the Louvre had been turned into a museum, and the Palais des Tuileries had burned down. The loss of Tuileries resulted in the clear view from the Louvre to Champs Elysees, and the beautiful gardens in between.

Finally, in the 1980s, the glass pyramid by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei was added as part of a larger renovation project. Though it was contested and controversial at first, Le Pyramide has become an iconic Paris landmark. The newest section of the museum, the Richelieu Wing, was unveiled in 1993 during the 200th Anniversary of the Louvre.

On with the Louvre Tips to get make the most of your time at this marvel of history and culture!

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

It really does happen! We visited the Louvre sans les files d’attente (no queues)!

Louvre Tips #1: Know How to Skip the Line

When you get to the Louvre, you may see a long line of people snaking out of Le Pyramide. Inside, the line continues downstairs and right up to… The ticket window. Those people are lining up to get tickets. Surely, they are all perfectly nice people, but you don’t want to be hanging around with them. You want to be IN the museum! You want to purchase tickets, a Paris Pass, or a Paris Museum Pass in advance. With tickets in hand, you can waltz right into the lobby of the Louvre, either from Le Pyramide, the Carrousel du Louvre, or the Metro. Then present your tickets as you enter one of three entrances to the galleries.

Although we strolled right into the big glass pyramid, if that entrance seems too crowded, take a few steps back. The Port des Lions says it’s for groups, but the fine print also allowed Paris Pass / Museum Pass holders to enter. With increased security, however, we have heard recently that is may not always be an option. Instead, visit the underground mall, Carrousel du Louvre. Enter via Rue de Rivoli (metro or street entrance), or the stairways from the Jardin du Carrousel et des Tuileries. Stop for a photo at the inverted pyramid, and then stroll down the hall to the Louvre. The line here is usually a fraction of the line up top. (Pro Tip: Stop by La Maison du Chocolat on your way through. Trust us.)

Getting Tickets In Advance

If you like guided tours, most include your entry ticket to the Louvre. As a bonus, group tours can enter the museum through Garde des Lions. If you prefer to go it on your own, you can buy tickets in advance on line, or get a Paris Pass or Museum Pass. You can click the banner below to purchase a Paris Pass and get a free city guide (our link).

Voila – you skipped the line!

Louvre Tips #2: Know When to Go

Nothing is worse than getting to the Louvre on a Tuesday. That’s because the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Information that’s good to know before you go! The rest of the week, the doors open at 0900, and exhibits start closing at 1730. (The museum closes at 1800.) Just like Disney, the Louvre has extra magic hours twice a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the museum is open until 2145, often without such large crowds. Good to know, since you will be visiting with about 15,000 other people on any given day. You often hear that “shoulder season” – spring and fall – are good times to travel because fewer people are on vacation. This is true for attractions like the Louvre, as well.

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

One of the world’s best known paintings, DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, is surprisingly accessible at Musee du Louvre!

Louvre Tips #3: Know Where to Go

If there are a few works of art you just have to see – Mona Lisa, maybe? – find out where it’s at and go there first. (Mona Lisa, by the way, is on Floor One of the Denon Wing.) Now you’ve got your big ticket items out of the way, and can enjoy the rest of your time at the museum without feeling like you’ve missed the one thing you went there to see. If you’re not sure where the object of your desire is, ask at the information desk.

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

The ornate Galerie d’Apollon dates from the earliest days of the Louvre when it was Henry IV’s Petite Galerie. After being destroyed by fire 1661, it was rebuilt as the first Royal Gallery for Louis XIV.

Louvre Tips #4: Know What You Like

One sure way to be disappointed with your visit to the Louvre is to get your ticket and wander aimlessly. You’ll get far more out of your visit if you go see things that interest you. Royal opulence reminiscent of the Sun King? Head for the Galerie d’Apollon. Medieval European decorative arts? Get lost on the first floor of the Richelieu Wing. Ready to come face to face with Egyptian gods and/or Ancient Aliens? Make your way to the back of the Sully Wing. You can get a guide to the Louvre at the information desk in the Entrance Hall, or download one before you go.

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

The indispensable Plan du Louvre is available free at the information desk.

Louvre Tips #5: Know Your Limits

Did we mention that the Louvre is really big? It truly is the largest museum on the planet, with some 380,000 pieces on display. If you spent just thirty seconds looking at each one, it would take 100 days to see everything. That’s one way to hit your step count for the day, as you’ll be roaming over 15 acres in the Louvre galleries. All of that is to say you need to know when to say when. After a few hours – and miles – even the biggest museum nerd will need a break.

To keep the Louvre from completely overwhelming you and your family, break up your visit. Try going for a couple of hours on two or three different days. With a multi-day Museum Pass or Paris Pass, you can visit more than once. If you only have one day, take a break in the middle of it. There are cafes in the museum where you can rest and recharge, or you can venture into the stores in the Carrousel du Louvre. There is also a food court in the mall, which has the fanciest McDonald’s we’ve seen. If you need some fresh air, take your break in the Carrousel and Tuileries Gardens, just outside of the museum. You’ll be walking among the sculptures in the oldest gardens in Paris.

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

The beautiful outdoor components of Musee du Louvre: Jardins des Carrousel de Louvre et les Tuileries.
(Photo: © Ivan Vander Biesen.)

Louvre Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre, via @TravelLatte.net

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Summary

In our book, no trip to Paris is complete without a stop – or several – at the Louvre. It is literally at the heart of Paris, and the art world as well. While the sheer size can seem overwhelming, when you have a plan and important tips before you go, you can have a fantastic, no-stress visit.


The Weekly Postcard

TravelLatte is proud and pleased to have joined forces with the amazing bloggers in The Weekly Postcard! Over the years, we have enjoyed reading posts from this group, and now we can call them co-hosts. We’re excited, and hope you share our enthusiasm! Please do check out the other host bloggers, and all of the great travel blogs who link up every week. We know you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!

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29 comments on “How to Make the Most of Your Time at the Louvre

  1. Pingback: Tracy Glastrong

  2. Travel is a very great gift from god and that is what we have learned from your blog. Thanks for such a good write up. Truly an amazing piece of writing.

    • Hi guys! The Louvre IS a dream! We could have spent days there. They say it would take about six months to see everything…we’re up for that challenge! 😉 Glad you liked the post – hope you get to put the tips to use soon! As always, thanks for reading.

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  4. Now these are the insider tips that make a visit so much easier especially how to beat the queues! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks Jo! Beating the queues is always a big one. I mean, it’s Paris! You don’t want to spend your day standing in lines. So glad more places let you get tickets in advance now. Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Tracy – we know exactly what you mean! Even if you know where to go, it seems like a long walk to almost everywhere in the Louvre! But that’s okay, because there are lots of patisseries in Paris, too. 😉

  5. Great guide for the Louvre and love that you blew up the Mona Lisa to show just how small it is. I really hate places where you see a queue and can’t tell whether its for tickets/entry or both, so hopefully your advice saves at least one person from queueing unnecessarily. It’s been about 15 years since I last went to Paris, but when I do eventually go back, I’ll be looking up your advice for the Louvre and Versailles for sure. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks David. I was so surprised when I first learned how small the Mona Lisa is, and a little disappointed to find out it really is that small. Thanks for your comment!

    • Hi Shona – It really can be overwhelming. So glad we got to the Must See displays but, looking back, some of the things we didn’t know about impressed us the most. Things we might have sped past if we were still looking for our favorites. Thanks for reading!

  6. Great guide to make the most out of my visit to the Louvre. The Louvre can be overwhelming and if not approached correctly one will miss some great pieces of art work. Happy that you have it in a book too. I will pin this for later use on my next visit to Paris. Love the tip on the Museum Passes, they are great! Thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

    • Hi Stephanie – LOVED the Museum Pass! The Paris Pass is good too, especially if you’re not total museum nerds like we are. 😉 Glad you liked the tips – thanks for reading!

  7. These are, indeed, fantastic tips! Having visited the Louvre myself, I can vouch for it’s size and, naturally, the more popular pieces are always crowded so yes it’s best to have a plan before you go! Perfect advice about buying tickets in advance; in an age where the internet is at your finger tips, it would be crazy not to, then you can spend your more valuable time by looking around one of the world’s most famous museums! Pinned for future reference. #feetdotravel

    • Hi Angie & Sy – Thanks for your comments! It’s sad how many people don’t buy tickets in advance. We were a little surprised, though, that on a couple of visits the lines were really short! Rain apparently keeps the queue down, too.

  8. Really useful tips for visiting. We could of used these when we visited a few years ago! Pinned for future visits. #feetdotravel

    • Hi Paul & Carole! Hopefully, you will have another chance to visit the Louvre and put these tips to the test! There is certainly enough in the Louvre to make a few trips. 😉 Thanks for reading!

  9. I think I’ve now been 3 times and hoping to get there again in September and still haven’t seen everything! Some great tips, especially for first time visitors. One thing I would add if you hate crowds or go on a free museum day (crowds are terrible) consider going to the lesser known areas of the museum – we did this on our last visit as it was a free day we explore the Islamic Art section and there were very few people there. Best, Jessica

    • That’s a great tip, Jessica! Free days are awesome for the budget, but not so much for beating the crowds. There were a couple of places where we seemed to have the Louvre to ourselves. That’s a little spooky when your surrounded by mummies and “ancient alien”-looking status!! 😉 Thanks for reading!

  10. Superb tips!! Not visited the Louvre since i was a kid. I will go back, when? I’m not sure, but this time I will be armed with all this great advice. I love having a guide like this – what you need to know, what you want to know. Thanks will pin for reference!

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