Regarded as the most beautiful museum in the world, the Louvre Museum is also the most visited every year, with on average 8 million visitors. Its galleries stretch for no less than 72,000 sq m., and 35,000 artworks are exhibited. If you had to spend 10 seconds admiring each object, it would take you 96 hours to visit the whole museum, so no need to tell you that you must be prepared before venturing in. So here is for you the ultimate guide to the Louvre Museum – access, timetable, prices, visitors trails – we are going to detail all the information you will need to have the most enjoyable visit.
Where is the Louvre?
The Louvre Museum is located on the right bank of the Seine, between the Rue de Rivoli and the Seine, in the first arrondissement of Paris. It is easily recognizable by the large glass pyramid in the centre of the main courtyard (cour Napoléon). The equestrian statue of King Louis XIV, located near the entrance, marks the start of the Axe Historique (historical axis), that links the Louvre Palace to the Grande Arche de la Défense, going through the Tuileries Garden, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
How do I get to the Louvre?
The Louvre Museum is easily accessible. To get there by metro, you can take line 1 or 7, and get off at the stop Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre. This station allows you to get directly under the glass pyramid by going through the underground shopping centre of the Carrousel du Louvre. You can also take line 14 of the metro, and get off at the stop Pyramides.
To get to the Louvre by bus, you can take the lines 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 67, 68, 69, 72, 81, 85 and 95. They all stop near the Louvre.
If you want to come by car, there is also underground parking under the shopping centre, and its entry is located on avenue du Général-Lemonnier. The prices of the parking is 4.40€ for an hour.
Once at your destination, you will have to go to one of the entrances of the Louvre. There are four: the Pyramid entrance; the Galerie du Carrousel entrance (at the 99 of the rue de Rivoli), the Passage Richelieu entrance and the Porte des Lions entrance.
If you don’t have a ticket and if you don’t benefit from the free admission (see below), you’ll have to go to the box office under the pyramid.
If you bought your ticket online, you can use the Passage Richelieu entrance, reserved for ticket holders and those with them.
If you’re a group (from 7 to 25 people) with your own guide, the person in charge of the group must go to the Porte des Lions entrance for the formalities, and then to the Passage Richelieu entrance to enter. If you’re a group with a guide of the Louvre, you will access the museum through the Porte des Lions entrance.
For visitors with disabilities and the person accompanying them, you can access the museum without waiting by using the Pyramid entrance or the Galerie du Carrousel entrance.
Our advice: The Pyramid entrance is the most famous, and also the busiest. If you don’t want to wait outside, especially when it’s raining or when it’s cold, it’s better to take the Galerie du Carrousel entrance. You will have direct access to the museum basement and you will be protected from the elements.
Timetable and Prices
The Louvre Museum is open everyday from 9am to 6pm, except on Tuesdays. There are also night openings until 9.45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Rooms begin closing from 5.30pm and 9.30pm on night openings.
The Louvre is open on public holidays, except the 1st of January, the 1st and 8th of May, and the 25th of December.
Regarding the prices, a ticket for the museum costs €15, and €17 if you buy it online. You can click here to buy it online. A ticket gives you access to permanent collections and temporary exhibitions during all of the day, and it also gives you access to the Delacroix Museum, located in the 6th arrondissement.
A lot of people can benefit from free admission – here is a list:
– Visitors under the age of 18,
– 18-25 year-old residents of the European Economic Area,
– Holders of a valid « Pass Education » card,
– Job seekers and people on income support,
– Visitors with disabilities and the person accompanying them,
– Visitors under 26 of all nationalities every Friday from 6pm.
Some supporting documents would be requested.
The museum is free every Sundays from October to March, and on the 14th of July. Beware of the crowds during these days.
When should I visit the Louvre ?
The Louvre can be visited during every season ; however, there are usually more visitors during summer. But since it is the most visited museum in the world, there are always a lot of visitors. Peak hours are 11am to 4pm, so it is better to avoid going during this time slot and favour a visit on the morning, or on Wednesday or Friday during night opening.
In addition, try avoiding the first Sunday of each month from October to March. Since it is free, the museum is always full of people.
If you want to visit a room in particular, be careful because the Louvre has an impressive collection and all the rooms are not open at the same time. To see the schedule of rooms closures, click here.
How should I visit the Louvre?
We are getting to the heart of the matter, which is the visit of the museum. Since the Louvre is the largest museum in the world, you have to be prepared in order not to feel lost in this vast palace. Here is a link, where you will find an interactive floor plan of the Louvre, as well as downloadable versions, available in several languages.
Artworks are split up into 8 departments, all identified by a different colour on the plan. There are: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculptures; Paintings; Decorative Arts; and Prints and Drawings. The museum is also divided into three wings: the Denon wing, the Sully wing and the Richelieu wing.
The Louvre also offers Audio Guides on Nintendo 3DS XL. It contains more than 30 hours of audio content and offers trails through the museum. It also contains high-definition images of the artworks, and 3D reconstructions of some sculptures, to have a new point of view. The rental of a Nintendo 3DS XL Audio Guide will cost you €5. If you’d rather use your own smartphone, you can download the application that contains audio content for about 50 famous artworks and various trails. This application is free, and available on the AppStore and Google Play.
Cometoparis also offers audio guides. For €24, you will have a ticket to get to the museum and a detailed audio guide. The tickets are available next to the museum, to avoid queues. For more information, click here.
On the Louvre website, you will find trails offered by the museum. You can print one and follow it during your visit. The trail Masterpieces, for example, will help you discover the most famous artworks exhibited in the museum, like the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, or the Winged Victory of Samothrace. There are also thematic trails that highlight artworks that are less known, but equally admirable. To see all the trails offered by the Louvre, click here.
If you don’t want to follow a specific trail, you’re free to wander in the museum and follow your whims. You will always find something to admire.
Things You Must See
At the Louvre Museum, there are plenty of masterpieces. But how do you choose between all of them? Here is a top 10 to give you some ideas!
1) Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Mona Lisa is the first in this top 10, of course. A true masterpiece of the 16th century, this painting is known all around the world. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci, it has been estimated that half of the visitors of the Louvre only come to the museum to see this painting. It must be said that its legendary half-smile and its unmatched beauty know how to fool the crowd.
2) The Venus de Milo
This famous statue sculpted around 100 BC, was discovered in 1820 on the island of Milos, from where its gets its name. It represents the goddess of love Aphrodite, or Venus in Roman mythology. It is one of the three most admired artworks of the museum.
3) The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Here is the third artwork that is the most admired in the Louvre: The Winged Victory of Samothrace. It has been estimated that it was sculpted around 200 BC. It was discovered in 1863 on the Greek island of Samothrace. This sculpture consists of a statue that represents Nike, the goddess that personifies the Victory, and of a ship’s prow-shaped base. It is one of the most impressive artworks of the museum, since it is 5.12 metres tall.
4) The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David
This painting, painted between 1806 and 1807, represents Napoleon during his consecration and the coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. There is a replica in the Palace of Versailles.
5) The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault
This artwork is not recommended for the faint of heart. Extremely realistic, this masterpiece shows a real event, the shipwreck of the Medusa, which occurred in 1816. Painted between 1818 and 1819, it represents the survivors and the dead of this tragic incident.
6) Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
Painted by Eugène Delacroix in 1830, it is frequently wrongly associated with the French Revolution of 1789, whereas in fact it represents the July Revolution which happened on the 27, 28 and 29 of July in1830. It represents a scene of the revolution, where we can see a woman guiding the revolutionaries, personifying the Liberty. The masterpiece would have inspired Victor Hugo for his literary work Les Misérables, in particular the character of Gavroche.
7) The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese
This painting is the most imposing artwork of the museum, since it is 6.66 metres tall and 9.90 metres long. Painted between 1562 and 1563, it represents the biblical narrative of the Wedding Feast at Cana, during which Christ accomplished his first miracle, turning water into wine.
8) Winged Human-headed Bull
These bulls that are 4 metres tall come from Khorsabad palace in Mesopotamia. These creatures with a human’s head, a body of a lion and bird’s wings were the protectors of the cities and palaces, and repulsed all enemies that tried to enter.
9) The Great Sphinx of Tanis
Sculpted around 2600 BC, this artwork represents a sphinx, a chimera with the body of a lion and a human’s head. Sphinx were representations of the power of the Pharaohs and they watched their graves. On this sphinx, we can read inscriptions about the Pharaohs Ammenemes II, Merneptah and Shoshenq I.
10) The Stele of the Code of Hammurabi
Among the ancient artworks of the museum, the Code of Hammurabi is one of the most singular. It is the most ancient legal text in the world, written around 1750 BC. It compiles court judgments delivered during the reign of Hammurabi, king of Babylon.
A Few Recommendations
There are some rules to observe when you visit the Louvre, like in any other museum. It is forbidden to smoke, drink or eat, speak too loud, touch the artworks, run and use a flash when you take a picture. However, for temporary exhibitions, it is forbidden to film or take pictures.
Since the terror attacks in 2015, the security at the entrances has been reinforced and the waiting time can be longer. Don’t come with a suitcase or a large bag, as security guards won’t let you come in.
Pay attention to pickpockets that are inside and outside the museum. Indeed, they take advantage of long queues, in which people are not paying attention, to rob you. Also pay attention where the crowd is large, for example around Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo.
Don’t rush the masterpieces of the museum, if you really want to see them up close. The crowd can be really dense around the Mona Lisa for example, where it is really difficult to come closer to admire it.
As said above, it is impossible to visit all of the Louvre in one day, so it is not very useful to stay for too long in the museum. In fact, after 3 hours you will be exhausted walking down the galleries.
Our opinion: Get lost! The Louvre museum is overflowed with under-appreciated artworks and there is always something interesting to see. Let your eyes wander through the museum and follow your instincts.