The Louvre Museum is perhaps one of the most iconic destinations in Paris. The Parisian museum is home to the world’s most famous paintings, sculptures and art installations, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. Over 10 million people visited the Louvre in 2018, making it the most popular museum in the world.
Aside from the famous Mona Lisa, the Louvre has masterpieces by some of the most historic artists of the world. The sprawling museum is an experience in itself, if you’re in Paris, your trip is incomplete without a visit to this landmark destination. Here’s all you need to know about the Louvre!
History and general facts about the Louvre
The Louvre was initially built as a fortress in 1190. It was later reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace. During this time, the Louvre saw tremendous growth as nearly every monarch expanded it. In 1682, Louis XVI moved the royal residence to Versaille after which the Louvre become home to various art academies.
The collection at the museum includes Egyptian antiques, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, paintings by the Old Masters (notable European artists from before 1800), and crown jewels and other artefacts from French nobles. Artefacts present are from the sixth century B.C all the way to the 19th century AD. At any given time, more than 35,000 works of art are on display.
The displays are divided into eight departments: Near Eastern Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculptures; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.
Booking tickets in advance to visit the museum is always the best option. If you want to avoid long queues, book your tickets in advance at the official site.
Official rates are:
-Tickets purchased online: 17€ (including quick entry).
-Tickets purchased at the museum: 15€ (expect a long queue if you do this)
You might also get to visit the Louvre for free if:
- Every day if you’re under 18 years old.
- Every day if you’re an EU resident between 18 and 25 years old.
- First Saturday of each month, entrance is free from 6pm to 9:45pm.
- Every Friday from 6pm to 9:45pm, entrance is free for visitors under 26 years old.
- Entrance is free for all on Bastille Day (14th July).
The museum opens at 9 am every day and is closed on Tuesdays.
Exploring the Louvre
If you’re in Paris for a short time and can only make one visit to the museum, it is best to do your research in advance in terms of choosing what to see. All the exhibits cover nearly 18 acres. Did you know that it would take you 75 years to completely see it if you were watching each piece for 60 seconds for 8 hours a day?! That’s how expansive it is.
There are 403 rooms in three wings on multiple levels connected by multiple staircases. Before your visit, spend some time on the website to understand the layout and what art you would like to see. If you’re confused, here are some of the highlights you shouldn’t miss!
- La Gioconda / Mona Lisa
- Venus de Milo
- Winged Victory of Samothrace
- Sleeping Hermaphroditus
- The Coronation of Napoleon
- Liberty leading the people
- Les Noces de Cana
- Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love
- The Raft of Medusa
- Louvre’s Greek and Roman antiquities
- The Crown Jewels of France
- Great Sphinx of Tanis
Guided tours at the Louvre
The Louvre, as you must already know, is massive! It’s impossible to see everything in a single day. The Louvre offers three free guided tours in English. The ‘Welcome to the Louvre’ tour covers the museum’s highlights every day at 11 am and 2 pm and on Wednesday at 7 pm. There’s also a ‘My First Louvre’ tour on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. for families and ‘Another Louvre’ tour, which showcases the museum’s overlooked treasures, on Friday at 7:30 pm.
Visiting the Louvre is a transformative experience. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or not, there is just so much to admire at this magnificent museum!