The Louvre shines in many ways: you can talk about its impressive building, the Tuileries gardens, its glass pyramid, its Egyptian art collection, or Da Vinci's Giocconda and the Venus de Milo. My recommendation is to buy tickets in advance so you don't have to wait in line for hours at the door. These are the best options you can find online:
Access the Louvre without queues at the best price
Perfect if you are willing to get lost in the endless corridors and galleries of the Louvre at your own pace, without having to join any organized group but without wasting time in the queues at the ticket officeFrom $ 36 at Hellotickets
If you want to visit the Louvre on your own I strongly recommend you to buy this ticket in advance online. The queues at the entrance to the museum are usually endless and when you are finally inside the tiredness begins to take its toll.
With this ticket, you can enter the museum whenever you want, spend as much time inside as you want, and stop to contemplate the works that interest you most. Later in this article, I'll leave you a list of the works that you can not miss to make your self-guided visit more fruitful.
Don't forget to pick up the free museum map at the museum entrance. Some of the museum's visitors are looking for a quick visit and to locate the major works in each room: the map is designed for this purpose and will be very useful to help you find your way around the museum.
As for the audio guide, because of the size of the museum and the number of mythical works found inside, it is highly recommendable. It has a price of six dollars at the entrance, is in several languages and if in many ticket packages booked in advance is usually included.
Why I like this option: it allows you to visit the museum for as long as you want and decide yourself which works you want to stop at. In addition, by purchasing your ticket in advance you will avoid endless queues at the door.
Recommended if... you want to enjoy the museum at your own pace, without fixed schedules or guided groups.
Any art lover, expert or not, should take a guided tour of this impressive museum, as the collection is much more enjoyable when you are guided through the major works and explained the subtext of each of them. The guided tour is also highly recommended for those who do not want to leave Paris without visiting the museum, but do not have time to devote to it: on a guided tour the time is doubled and so is the learning.
You will comfortably visit the most emblematic works of the museum and they will also tell you details of the building itself by giving you a tour around the outside. It is also available in private options for small groups, which is highly recommended to take advantage and personalize the explanations of the guide. You can choose the 10 am or the 2 pm guided tour.
Why I like this option: this guided tour offers a great opportunity to get to know the essentials of the museum without having to join a guided tour of many hours that can become too long for non-experts. With this tour, you are sure to understand the essential works exhibited in the Louvre in just two hours.
Recommended if... you don't have much time but you don't want to give up the opportunity to get to know the museum and its works better.
The best attractions in Paris at a reduced price with the tourist card
Paris is full of places to see and if you have in mind to explore beyond the Louvre, with this tourist card you will save time (you will skip the queues at the ticket office) and money when accessing the main points of interest.From $ 0 at Hellotickets
If you have the Paris Pass card, access to the Louvre museum is free and you won't have to wait in line to book your ticket. The free visit to the Louvre is one of the main attractions of this tourist card which also includes free admission to many other museums and tourist attractions in the city of Paris.
You can check all the information available about the Paris Pass in this guide I have written about Paris Pass. If you want to make the most of everything the city has to offer, this is an option you should consider to save time and money.
Why I like this option this tourist pass is designed by and for visitors who come to Paris eager to see several of its main attractions but do not have time or budget to buy each of them separately.
Recommended if... you have in mind to visit several attractions. Do the math of the price of the tickets separately to see if it is worth buying the Paris Pass.
In summary, we compare the three options
Access the Louvre without queues at the best price
Perfect if you are eager to lose yourself in the endless corridors and galleries of the Louvre at your own pace, without having to join any organized groups but without wasting time in the queues at the ticket officeFrom $ 36 at Hellotickets
Paris' best attractions, at a reduced price
Paris is full of places to see and if you want to explore what lies beyond the Louvre, with this tourist card you will save time (you will skip the ticket office queues) and money when accessing the main points of interestFrom $ 0 at Hellotickets
Buy tickets for the Louvre at the Louvre ticket office
If you buy your Louvre tickets at the box office you can save a few dollars (the extra management fee when you buy them online), but in return, you will have to wait in long lines and you risk that when you get to the box office they are already sold out for the day and time you want to see the museum.
To avoid that, if in the end you decide to buy your tickets at the box office, try to go first thing in the morning (it opens at 9:00 am) and do not choose a holiday to visit the museum. With this option, the audio guide goes separately for about six or seven dollars.
Practical tips for visiting the Louvre
When to go
The museum is open virtually every day of the year except for Tuesdays, which is the day when many of the museums in Paris close. Any time is a good time to visit this impressive collection, but the late afternoon hours (which on Wednesdays and Fridays are extended until almost ten o'clock at night) and the lunch hour are usually less crowded.
How to get there
The Louvre is in the center of Paris. In any tourist map, you will find outlined the building that houses the museum. Although the building is huge, the entrance is through the glass pyramid that is in the main courtyard (at night this pyramid is illuminated and is one of the wonders of the so-called city of light).
The Louvre can also be accessed directly from the subway stop "Palais Royal Musée du Louvre" (the Louvre Rivoli stop is not to access the museum) of the line 1 of Paris. If you choose the latter option you will find that some of the Paris metro stops are tourist attractions in themselves, but don't forget to go up after your visit to see the pyramid.
Duration of the visit
Many visitors who go to Paris see the Louvre in more than just one day because the sheer size of the museum and the amount of artwork it houses inside well allow for visits of this magnitude. For me, seeing the Louvre in less than three hours does not make sense unless you take a guided tour focused only on certain works or you only want to see a part of the museum.
An in-depth visit will probably take you a day. Also, note that the visiting hours are unlimited; the entrance slots are only for access.
Certain groups are admitted free of charge to the Louvre. This is the case for children under 18 years of age, European Union citizens under 25 years of age, art teachers, and handicapped persons with an accompanying person (the museum is also adapted for them).
There are some days and times when admission to the Louvre is free for everyone: this is the case of the first Sunday of the month and July 14 (Bastille Day) from 6:00 pm. Something you should know is that if you have free admission to the museum you must also book your ticket to choose your slot and ensure access; you can do it on the official website of the museum.
Where to eat
Inside the Louvre museum, there are a cafeteria and restaurant. It will be best if you visit the museum mid-morning to have a snack, enjoy the view of the Tuileries gardens from one of the balconies of the museum and resume your visit. In the surrounding area, however, it will be a bit more difficult to find places to eat, so keep this in mind if you're hungry.
How to behave
At the Louvre, the usual rules for large museums apply. You are allowed to take photographs, you must not touch the works of art, you must maintain a certain silence and you cannot enter with food. At the door there are security checks and also lockers to leave your backpacks, something I recommend so that the weight does not become unbearable after several hours touring the halls of the museum.
The surroundings of the Louvre
The Louvre is an emblematic building in Paris that you should also observe and enjoy from the outside. In addition to the glass pyramid, it also has next to it the Tuileries gardens which are an ideal location to sit and read and enjoy the view.
The Louvre with children
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If you visit the museum with children, make sure that they will not get tired and will not run through the corridors and rooms. A very good option is to take an adapted for children Louvre tour; this way you will encourage their interest in art and they will enjoy the visit to the museum much more.
I recommend this adapted audio tour option so that all members of the family can explore the museum at their own pace, focusing on the topics of most interest.
The most important works to see at the Louvre
Personally, I have never been to any museum where I knew so many works of art beforehand as in the Louvre. If this is the most visited museum in Europe it is because it is not only a delight for art lovers, but also because the generalist visitor will recognize a significant number of the works housed in the museum.
Making a selection of what to see is more difficult in the Louvre than in any other museum (there are 35,000 works of art in its interior from almost all artistic periods and of diverse origins). However (and let's not forget important omissions) if we had to make a top 10 with the best known it would be similar to this:
1. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
It is the star work of the museum. Of course, before you get "disappointed" I will tell you that you are not going to see it up close; the painting is protected by a security barrier of several feet because on more than one occasion there have been attacks against the painting. Even from a distance, you have to see it since it is the star work of the Renaissance and one of the most mythical paintings in existence.
In the museum you will also find other works by Da Vinci as the famous 'Virgin of the Rocks' that you can enjoy with a smaller influx of people; do not miss it.
2. Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix
This is one of my favorites. The painting depicts the popular uprising against the crown in Paris in 1830 that ended with the removal of the last Bourbon to reign in France: Charles X. In this work freedom is represented allegorically as a woman in the center of the painting wielding a flag. Take your time to recreate yourself in the details of one of the best-preserved works in the museum.
3. The Venus de Milo
One of the most representative statues of the Hellenistic period of Greek sculpture. This female figure has not always been a torso without arms, but it is unknown how she "lost" them and there are even several theories about how they were represented. The fact is that the perfection of the forms is well worth a few minutes of recreation in front of the work.
The Wedding at Cana by Veronese
One of the most famous paintings of the Italian painter known as Veronese. It is difficult that you have not seen on some occasion a drawing of this work that represents the first miracle of Jesus Christ; during a wedding: the Gospel of St. John says that he turned water into wine. The illumination of the painting and the detail of its characters deserve several minutes of your time.
The Victory of Samothrace
One of the largest statues you will find in the museum. The winged victory of Samothrace represents the Greek goddess Nike, Goddess of Victory. Although its aesthetics (the sculpture lacks a head) has been criticized by many, it is considered a key work of sculpture and you only have to look at the detail of its folds to verify this statement.
6. The Lacemaker by Vermeer
One of the best-known works of this author and another of the jewels of the museum. Like many of Vermeer's paintings, this one shows an anonymous figure in the intimacy of her everyday life, in this case, dedicated to the work of sewing. With a minimal setting, the painter knows how to convey that moment of peace that surrounds the protagonist.
7. Code of Hammurabi
The most emblematic piece of Mesopotamian art. The collection of Ancient Art of the Louvre is one of its most valuable attractions and this particular work reflects the civil laws in force during the reign of Hammurabi, so it has been an essential finding to learn more about the culture of this historical period.
8. Statue of Ramses II
A colossal statue of the pharaoh seated on his throne. Few collections of Egyptian art surpass those of this museum. Although you have to look closely to see it, it is considered that this sculpture shows naturalistic features in a pharaoh who was considered a god.
Portrait of Louis XIV
Icon of the absolutist French monarchy. The portrait represents all the power that the French monarchy held in Europe at its peak. Don't hesitate to use the audio guide in front of this painting to learn more about this important historical period and discover why the painting is another of the Louvre's masterpieces.
The Consecration of Napoleon
One of the key works that portray a historic episode in French history. More than six meters high and ten meters wide, the painting was painted by Jacques-Louis David and represents the consecration of Napoleon and his wife Josephine in the cathedral of Notre Dame.
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The magnitude and fame of the Louvre are such that it is easy to overshadow other museums in the city of Paris. After contemplating all the works of the Louvre it is easy to ask yourself: but can there be more? There is. Paris is full of museums and each one is worth a visit.
My favorites are the Musée d'Orsay (a real marvel) and the Pompidou Museum of contemporary art, but the list of options is much longer. If you want to know more you can read this article about Museums Tickets.