The Louvre Museum, the famous fortress-turned-palace-turned-museum is one of the world’s most visited – if not the most visited – collections of art. And no matter what time of the year you visit the Louvre, this statistic comes across clearly. You will not be alone.
But a few small considerations can help ease the Louvre experience whether you want to analyze Dutch 17th century for hours or just see the Mona Lisa and peace out.
Here are some quick tips for visiting the Louvre:
Unless the line is visibly nonexistent, avoid the main entrance under the glass pyramid. Instead, head to the Porte des Lions on the wing closest to the Seine to purchase tickets at a rarely-used entrance.
Otherwise, enter via the underground Carrousel du Louvre accessible from rue de Rivoli to buy tickets from the same ticket machines as everyone else, but with a security line that moves much faster.
The Louvre is open every day of the week except Tuesday. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. every day, except for Wednesday and Friday, when the museum stays open until 9:45 p.m.
Best time to go: Wed/Fri
The best time to visit is Wednesday and Friday night when, as we mention above, the museum stays open until 9:45 p.m. and most large groups and school children are nowhere to be seen. You can spend the entire evening browsing away much more comfortably than those who braved the museum earlier in the day.
General admission to the Louvre's permanent collection is €11. Children under 18 are free (and European Union residents under 25).
Entrance to special exhibitions in the Hall Napoleon is €12, and a combined ticket is €15. Read more about admission charges, and free and reduced admission on the Louvre's Web site.
Admission to the Louvre is covered by the Paris Museum Pass. (Buying the pass will also save you time getting into the museum, as you won't have to wait to buy a ticket. Once through security, just head straight for the ticket takers.)
Guided tours/audio guides
90-minute guided "highlight" tours in English are offered multiple times a day, and are a good option for those who'd like a little more structure to their visit. The tour covers the "big three" that we mention below. At the time of this writing, it's offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Read more about these tours on the Louvre Web site.
If you’re not going to hire a guide or take one of the tours, consider paying for one of the audio guides (it’s a Nintendo DS system!). One of the disadvantages to visiting the Louvre if you don't read French is that most of the information posted about the artwork is in French, except for the more famous works. An audio guide can help out with this, adding lengthy commentaries to many of the major works.
Click through for a virtual visit of the Louvre.
What to see?
Wow--where to start? Well, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the second-century Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture, and the even older Venus de Milo statue, are probably the three most famous works in the Louvre. (Read our related post on tips for visiting the Venus.)
After that, the Napoleon III apartments are pretty dazzling, as is much of the French 19th-century art. And that's just the beginning.
Do some homework before you go, so that you know what you'd like to visit and which floors you wouldn't mind skipping. Which brings us to...
Plan it out!
If you're more "planning orientated," click straight through to the Louvre's interactive floor plan. Aside from offering a cool virtual visit of the Louvre, this feature allows you to get yourself organized before you go.
Click around the museum floor-by-floor, taking note of the pieces that interest you. The site also makes handy suggestions for "selected works" on each floor that aren't to be missed.
Days to avoid
Even though it’s free on the first Sunday of the month, think twice, as the museum really gets packed with visitors. It’s just not a good idea to brave the Louvre on this day unless you love waiting in lines and embrace frustrating experiences. The same thing goes for July 14th!
Two Metro stops service the Louvre. Louvre-Rivoli on the line 1 will take you near the back while Palais-Royal-Musée-du-Louvre on the 1 and 7 will take you right into the Carrousel and the underground entrance.
In the area
The Tuileries Gardens, stretching out directly in front of the Louvre, are peachy for a royal stroll by the fountains.
When hunger hits, head north to the old market area known as Les Halles to find some affordable food around the rue Montorgueil. Any bakery or café will do!
If you're still planning your trip and looking for a place to stay, consider these recommended budget hotels near the Louvre. Our editors have visited and reviewed these properties, and will help you find the best deal near the Louvre.