No visit to Paris is complete without exploring the Louvre Museum and its must-see items. The Louvre is the largest museum of art in the world, and has an unmatched collection of over 35,000 artefacts in over 400 rooms – from prehistoric times and ancient civilisations to the 21st century!
Once France’s largest Royal Palace, the Louvre now welcomes over 9 million visitors from all over the world every year. If you’re planning a visit to Paris and want to know how to spend a day at the Louvre, or are interested in knowing what you must see at the Louvre, this post is for you.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Louvre Museum.
The Louvre history
Originally, the Louvre palace built on the site of a former 12th century fortress, known as Château du Louvre. You can actually still see the foundations on the basement level of the museum! French Kings and Queens, from Charles V to Louis XIV, would use it as their Parisian residence from then on. Sculptors and artists such as Guillaume Coustou and François Boucher also lived here.
In the 16th century, King François I transformed the Louvre Castle from a medieval fortress into a Renaissance-style palace. He also founded the royal art collection with 12 paintings from Italy. In 1682, Louis XIV decided to move his court to Versailles, leaving the Louvre merely as a place to display the collection. In 1793, revolutionaries opened the royal collection to the public, and Napoleon renovated part of the Royal Palace as a museum. The rest is history (no pun intended)!
What to see in the Louvre Museum?
Given its vast art collection and size, you’ll need a few days to see everything inside the Louvre. For those with limited time, we recommend spending a day to thoroughly see the Louvre highlights. Remember to pick up a free map as you enter so you don’t miss any.
The collection is divided in four main levels: basement, ground, first and second floors. Remember to wear comfortable shoes as there’ll be plenty of walking! French and Dutch paintings, as well as Egyptian, Greek, Islamic and Roman antiques and Italian sculpture are just some of the art you’ll enjoy.
There’s also the Napoleon III apartments, located in the Richelieu wing which are as they were in the time that Napoleon III lived there.
Below are some of the Louvre’s must-see pieces:
Most famous paintings in the Louvre:
- The Mona Lisa
- Liberty Leading the People
- The Lacemaker
- The Raft of the Medusa
- Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait
Most famous statues in the Louvre:
- The Venus de Milo
- The Winged Victory of Samothrace
- The Marly Horses
- Michelangelo’s Slaves: Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave
What to see outside the Louvre Museum?
The unmistakable glass and steel Louvre Pyramid at the centre of the Napoleon Courtyard became the museum’s entrance in 1989. The pyramid, reaches a height of 20.6 metres (~70 feet), with each of the sides of its square base measuring 35 metres (~115 ft).
There’s also an inverted pyramid – the Pyramide Inversée. You can find it inside the Carrousel the Louvre, an underground shopping centre opposite the museum. Both were designed by architect I. M. Pei as part of the Grand Louvre renovation project which saw the Finance Ministry relocated to a new site.
Don’t forget the Tuileries Garden and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (not to be mistaken with THE Arc de Triomphe at the Champs Elysées). Stretching between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the gardens offer a nice place to relax and explore the many after a visit to the museum.
Louvre opening hours
The Louvre Museum is open every day except for Tuesdays and January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. Remember, exits are final, so make sure you’ve seen everything you wanted before leaving! The Louvre opening hours are:
- Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 9am to 6pm
- Wednesday, Friday: 9am to 9.45pm
Note: always check the opening times beforehand to make sure these are in line with the current COVID-19 measures.
Louvre Museum tickets and price
Tickets purchased at the Louvre museum cost 15€. However, it’s best to buy your Louvre tickets online beforehand to skip the long queues! Bear in mind that tickets bought online cost 17€ though. Visitors under the age of 18, as well as job seekers and residents of the EEA under 26, can access the museum for free.
Louvre Free Entry
If you’re visiting from October to March, admission is free on the first Sunday of every month!
Louvre Restaurants and Cafés
The Louvre includes a selection of restaurants and cafés for every budget, where you can stop to grab a bite or just rest your legs with a hot drink in hand.
- Café Marly: for a light lunch, in the Richelieu Wing
- Café Mollien: for a coffee break overlooking the Pyramid and Napoleon Courtyard
- Goguette: with cheaper options below the Pyramid, including salads, pasta, desserts and burgers
- Le Comptoir du Louvre: for sandwiches and pastries, on the ground floor
- Le Café Richelieu/Angelina: for a luxurious meal, right by the apartments of Napoleon III
- Bistrot Benoit: for special meals below the Pyramid, starting at 30€
Have you been to the Louvre Museum before? What’s your favourite thing about the museum? As always, if you loved our guide on everything you need to know about visiting the Louvre Museum, please leave us a comment, pin some photos and show us some love on social media using the buttons below.
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