Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement. The magnificent, baroque-style palace and museum — LeMusée du Louvre in French — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris. It is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.

History Of The Building

In 1546 Francis I, who was a great art collector, had this old castle razed and began to build on its site another royal residence, the Louvre, which was added to by almost every subsequent French monarch. Under Francis I, only a small portion of the present Louvre was completed, under the architect Pierre Lescot. This original section is today the southwestern part of the Cour Carrée. In the 17th century, major additions were made to the building complex by Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Cardinal de Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII, acquired great works of art for the king. Louis XIV and his minister, Cardinal Mazarin, acquired outstanding art collections, including that of Charles I of England. A committee consisting of the architects Claude Perrault and Louis Le Vau and the decorator and painter Charles Le Brun planned that part of the Louvre which is known as the Colonnade.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Louvre ceased to be a royal residence when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles in 1682. The idea of using the Louvre as a public museum originated in the 18th century. The comte d’Angiviller helped build and plan the Grande Galerie and continued to acquire major works of art. In 1793 the revolutionary government opened to the public the Musée Central des Arts in the Grande Galerie. Under Napoleon the Cour Carrée and a wing on the north along the rue de Rivoli were begun. In the 19th century two major wings, their galleries and pavilions extending west, were completed, and Napoleon III was responsible for the exhibition that opened them. The completed Louvre was a vast complex of buildings forming two main quadrilaterals and enclosing two large courtyards.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Louvre building complex underwent a major remodeling in the 1980s and ’90s in order to make the old museum more accessible and accommodating to its visitors. To this end, a vast underground complex of offices, shops, exhibition spaces, storage areas, and parking areas, as well as an auditorium, a tourist bus depot, and a cafeteria, was constructed underneath the Louvre’s central courtyards of the Cour Napoléon and the Cour du Carrousel. The ground-level entrance to this complex was situated in the centre of the Cour Napoléon and was crowned by a controversial steel-and-glass pyramid designed by the American architect I.M. Pei. The underground complex of support facilities and public amenities was opened in 1989. In 1993, on the museum’s 200th anniversary, the rebuilt Richelieu wing, formerly occupied by France’s Ministry of Finance, was opened; for the first time, the entire Louvre was devoted to museum purposes. The new wing, also designed by Pei, had more than 230,000 square feet (21,368 square metres) of exhibition space, originally housing collections of European painting, decorative arts, and Islamic art. Three glass-roofed interior courtyards displayed French sculpture and ancient Assyrian artworks. The museum’s expanding collection of Islamic art later moved into its own wing (opened 2012), for which Italian architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti enclosed another interior courtyard beneath an undulating gold-coloured roof made of glass and steel.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

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.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

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.

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.

Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Established: August 10, 1793
Tickets: €0–17 · ticketlouvre.fr
Visitors: 9.6 million (2019): Ranked 1st nationally; Ranked 1st globally in 2018
Architects: Pierre Lescot, Louis Le Vau, Claude Perrault

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.

Don’t miss When You Visit Louvre Museum, Paris:

Egyptian Antiquities:

From 4000 BC to the 4th century the Egyptian Antiquities department is well worth a visit for its huge span of artefacts from Ancient Egypt to the Byzantine era, and everything in between. Artefacts include the Large Sphinx, papyrus scrolls, mummies, jewels and clothing, among objects from the Middle Kingdom such as the statues of Amenemhatankh, Nephthys and Hathor.

Egyptian Mummy Antiquities at the Louvre Museum, Paris
Egyptian Mummy Antiquities at the Louvre Museum, Paris

Greek, Etruscan and Roman Department:

Notre Dame pier is the second location you can board the Bateaux ParThe Greek, Etruscan and Roman collection dates from the Neolithic (New Stone Age) to the 6th century and the decline of the Roman Empire. As one of the oldest departments at the Louvre, it was initially curated by Francis I in the 16th century, who acquired marble statues such as that of Venus de Milo. Artefacts from the Durand collection were later acquired in the 19th century, such as the bronze Borghese Vase. You can also admire pieces from the Hellenistic Era and intricate Greek pottery.

Greek, Etruscan and Roman Department

Sculpture:

With a collection of ancient sculpture to Medieval and Romanesque, admire works of Daniel in the Lion’s Den and the Virgin of Auvergne. The collection features works from the eras following the Greek, Etruscan and Roman Department up to 1850. Now, the department is split into two spaces: the French collection in the Richelieu wing and the foreign works in the Denon wing.

Sculpture

Decorative Arts:

Spanning from the Middle Ages to 19th Century the Decorative Arts department was originally part of the royal property and artefacts transferred from the Basilica Saint-Denis, the burial ground of French monarchs. These included vases and bronzes, ceramics, enamels and stained glass. Now you can see Renaissance and Medieval artwork, jewellery and maiolicas and plush tapestries.

Decorative Arts

Painting:

With over 7,500 works covering nearly 600 years, nearly two thirds of the works on show are by French artists. Others include Italian paintings that date back to the collections of Francis I and Louis XIV; from the Napoleonic times and more recent purchases. Notable masterpieces include the Mona Lisa, which was procured by Francis I, Hyacinthe Rigaud’s Louis XIV; Jacques-Louis David’s The Coronation of Napoleon and Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People.

Famous World Number 1 Painting: Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
Famous World Number 1 Painting: Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

One of the Most Visited Museums Worldwide:

Due to the sheer size of the museum, visitors will need a whole morning to get a general idea of the Louvre and see the most important paintings, sculptures and other types of art. The Louvre is so vast that one could easily spend several days exploring its exhibitions.

If you’re an art lover, and you want a deeper understanding of the artwork in the Louvre the museum offers guests an audioguide with information on each an every piece in the gallery. You can download it as an app for mobile of Nintendo 3DS.

Although the Louvre Museum is extremely prestigious worldwide, for those who are not passionate about art the visit can become a bit tedious due to the museum’s dimensions, the heat and the crowds of people.

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 advice: Wander around! 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.

Louvre Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs about the Louvre):

Q: WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE LOUVRE?
A: The absolute best time to visit the Louvre is on Wednesday and Friday evenings when the museum is open until 9:45 pm, there are many fewer visitors. We usually schedule our Louvre Italian Masters on Wednesday late afternoon to enjoy the art in this less busy environment.

Q: IS THERE A LONG LINE TO ENTER THE MUSEUM?
A: It depends of the time of day. The line outside the pyramid entrance varies from 5 to 20 minutes. This is a security purposes. Participants on all Context Louvre walks will not wait in line as we pre-purchase tickets and thus have access to a special line. Museum Pass holders or advance ticket holders can also enter this way (see our concierge service for purchase of non-walk advance tickets).

Q: I’VE HEARD THE LOUVRE IS ENORMOUS, HOW SHOULD I DECIDE WHAT TO SEE?
A: The Louvre has one of the largest art collections in the world and it would take weeks to see it all. To make the most of your visit, it’s a good idea to read up on the different sections (perhaps in your guide book) so you can have a better idea of what you would be interested in seeing. If you are deciding on a walk with Context, we recommend the French Masters walk, which introduces you to French art and compliments your Parisian experience. If you are visiting the museum on your own, try not to see everything, you will appreciate the works more by focusing on a few sections, pick up a map at the info desk which will help you navigate its vast wings.

Q: WHERE CAN I GET A SNACK OR HAVE LUNCH?
A: While eating inside the collections is not advisable, bags are not searched for food, so you could bring along a snack, sandwich or bottle of water in your bag and have a break in the main foyer. There are numerous cafes throughout the museum and in the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping centre attached to the museum, you can find a fairly good food court with world cuisine. For a more leisurely lunch or break, try the Café Marly which is on the North Side of the Cour Napoleon (part of the Richelieu wing), great for people watching.

Q: IS THE LOUVRE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE?
A: The Louvre is wheelchair accessible and you can request a temporary wheelchair loan from the information desk. There are elevators throughout the museum as well and you can print a wheelchair accessibility guide from the site. We are happy to custom design visits to the Louvre for visitors with mobility issues.