How to Tackle the Louvre: Guide to Your First Visit
So, you finally made it to Paris.
Whether it’s your first visit or your 100th, chances are, if you’re like most tourists, you’ll want to pay a visit to the fabled, sprawling Paris gem that is the Louvre. It is the world’s most popular museum, and it has the goods to back that title up. Here, we’ve compiled some need-to-know essentials and tips for tackling this massive and impressive museum.
Opening Days & Hours
First things first – know when to go. The Louvre is open every day of the week except for Tuesdays. The museum opens 9am daily, and closing hours vary, depending on the day of the week (but the museum is open until at least 6pm every day). Check the museum’s website before you go for the closing hours of your visit day.
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. However, there are free days at the Louvre! On the first Saturday of each month, from 6pm to 9:45pm, entry to the Louvre is free. It is also free on Bastille Day (July 14).
Booking a Time Slot
The Louvre is one of the most popular sites in Paris, with over 9 million visitors annually, in recent years. (This everlasting popularity got a little boost – unneeded as it was – thanks to the Queen Bey effect when Beyoncé and Jay Z filmed a music video in the hallowed museum halls in 2018.)
This is all to say, it’s advisable to book a time slot before you go. And this is especially true if you’re on a time crunch. The museum advises this, too, saying, “We strongly recommend buying tickets online to ensure entry to the museum.”
You can book a time slot when you purchase individual or group tickets on the ticketing section of the museum website.
Paris Museum Pass Holders: Book Ahead!
If you’re a holder of the Paris Museum Pass, it is compulsory to book a time slot before you go. You may do so on a Pass-specific section of the site.
If you’re going without the Museum Pass, the ticket cost for the museum is €17 online, and €15 when purchased at the museum. (The 2-euro difference is worth it if you’re pressed for time, and don’t want queue to buy a ticket.) If you’re under the age of 18, admission is free. And for 18-25-year-old residents of the EU, admission is also free.
Interested in a guided tour? Fat Tire Tours Paris has two Louvre tours, which we’d love to take you on! The Skip-the-Line Louvre Tour – Closing Time with the Mona Lisa brings you up close to one of the Louvre’s most-crowded sites, Da Vinci’s masterful “The Mona Lisa.”
On this tour, you’ll skip the long wait, and get right to the goods. In a small group setting, with an English-speaking guide, find yourself taking in all that the Louvre has to offer, and not just Mona; we’ll also lead you around to see the “The Venus De Milo,” the Classic Greek Art Rooms, the glittering Crown Jewels rooms, and a plethora of French paintings and Italian sculptures. Ditto for our standard Skip-the-Line Louvre Tour, which operates during the mornings and afternoons. Book either tour today on our website.
When to Go
Visitors to the museum are advised to visit first thing in the morning (or late at night, with Skip-the-Line) to get there before the crowds descend later in the day. Sure, you won’t have the museum completely to yourself, but you will be able to move about more freely than you may later in the day.
Plot Your Plan & Works to See
It’s important to be strategic about your approach to the Louvre. This is a massive behemoth of a building, with a mind-boggling number of works. There are over 350,000 objects and displays within the Louvre, which spans 652,000 square feet.
I recommend picking out 2 to 5 personal “must-see’s” before you go, and find them first thing, and then wander the museum and see where your curiosity leads you.
Arguably, the most famous work in the Louvre is “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. Other notable masterpieces include “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” “Liberty Leading the People,” “Aphrodite of Milos,” “The Raft of the Medusa,” “The Wedding at Cana,” “The Venus de Milo,” and “The Coronation of Napoleon.”
Do a bit of digging and research before you go (if you’re into that kind of thing), so you can identify what you’d most like to see, and then be strategic in conquering this massive museum, so you’re not wandering around aimlessly. (Though, there is something to be said for aimless wandering as well.)
Currently on, through February 24, 2020, is the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, which highlights the work of this great artist/thinker/inventor/philosopher/Renaissance man.
There are a few different ways to get up close and personal with the Louvre. The best and easiest way, if you’re not going on foot or by bike, is to take the metro train. You can exit at the Palais Royal Musée du Louvre station (lines 1 and 7), or Pyramides (line 14). For plotting your journey from point A to Louvre, check out the Paris metro map.
Should you be a rare Paris tourist who rents a car for your time in the city, there is underground parking found on Avenue du Général Lemonier. And if you’ve been touring around the Batobus (the hop-on hop-off boats that run up and down the Seine river), you can exit the boat at the stop for the Louvre, Quai François Mitterrand.
Nibbles and Refreshments
A shockingly (or, not so shockingly) large number of restaurants and cafes exist within the Louvre museum. At present, there are at least 15 cafes, restaurants, and takeaway outlets in the Louvre and in its surrounding areas.
Should art overwhelm and hunger befall you, you’re in good hands at the Louvre – there are tons of options, from the Gorguette (a perfect little stop below the Louvre’s Pyramid), to the Café Mollien (on the first floor of the Denon wing and overlooking the Carrousel Garden), to the Comptoir du Louvre (also beneath the Pyramid, and serving sandwiches, salads, and light fixings), to even – yes, a Starbucks. Despite loving a weekly Pumpkin Spice Latte come autumn, one (me) must wonder: Is there no escaping them?
Like most museum food spots and central locales, though, eating within the museum’s walls may prove to be a bit pricier than a local Paris café. If you can manage to hold off, wait till you leave the museum to find some food. The Louvre is in the 1st arrondissement, and our Eating by Arrondissement guide can help you navigate to a nearby place to rest your feet and mentally unpack all that art!
For a Deeper Dive into French Culture
Looking to experience more of Paris history and art and culture? Check out a Fat Tire Tours guided tour in Paris! From bike tours to walking tours to Segway tours, we have a whole host of fun and exciting ways to see the City of Light. It’s some of the most fun you can have that side of the Atlantic, and you can be sure that we’ll give you some great ideas for your time in Paris along the way.
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