A visit to the Louvre – some tips & tricks


Recently, I was really lucky to visit the Louvre with a new graduate from the École du Louvre. One of my first questions to her, or rather assumption, was that she must have seen the whole place a few times over. But guess what, despite having studied for 6 years to get a diploma, whilst spending half the time in a classroom and half in Louvre and other museums, she had not yet seen all the rooms in the Louvre!

WHAT! Yes, you heard me (and I heard her) perfectly well.

So my advice to all those (including myself) wanting to visit and “cover” the Louvre, is to do yourself a favour and take it easy 🙂

I wanted so urgently to put out this post, because this wonderful girl, let’s call her C, opened my eyes to the nuances of Louvre. And i will share some with you.

Some tips on planning your visit.

> Pre-visit preparation:

  1. Research a little: Honestly, if you want to achieve borderline satisfaction with you trip to the Louvre (and don’t know much about art), do a little research. This isn’t my first visit, and on my previous trip I had already seen most of the masterpieces and trails. I’ll leave that for another post.

On this visit, I wanted to focus on the Egyptian civilization and sculptures. And the medieval moat. Take my advice, before you go, prepare a list of must-see exhibits, or sections, or eras, or categorize your trip by artists, periods or regions.

BeFunky Collage 4

2. Get some apps to aid you: Ok, I really do hope the guys at Louvre take heed to this suggestion. They’ve changed their guide-map since I visited last year. Earlier, they had numbers on the map corresponding to the rooms in the museum. Now, the map isn’t numbered, it’s only coloured. Not helpful at all. I downloaded two apps before visiting this time. Thank god for that!

  1. The official Musée du Louvre app – which I hardly used
  2. The Louvre Museum: Artworks, Audio guide and Exhibition app – which had the map with numbers. WHEW! I was referring to this despite the museum’s map .

3. Visit the Website: Make sure, at the very least, to glance through the official website to get an idea of the opening days, timings and other practical information.

  • For instance, the museum is free for visitors under 18 years
  • From October to March, access to the permanent collections is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month.
  • Many more such things

4. Book your tickets online: If you can, try and pre-book you ticket, on the website. Here is the link. It’s so much more convenient. And, with advanced tickets you can enter via the Passage Richelieu entrance – this, is one of the fastest ways to get into the Louvre.

5. Museum Pass: I would most definitely recommend this pass to anyone who is in Paris and can dedicated a 2-4 days to museum-hopping.

6. Carry water or an empty bottle that you can re-fill.

> Plan your Visit:

  1. Days & timings: The museum is closed on Tuesdays. And is open from 9am to 6pm on other days except Wednesdays and Fridays, when it closes at 9.45pm.

I usually go on Wednesdays. You get more time and I feel like (not certain) there are fewer people. After all, it’s quite relative, this.

BeFunky Collage6
The two pyramids (of Louvre) in three parts

> Entrance(s) to the museum:

  1. The Pyramid entrance: This of course is the main, most talked about entrance. I used it the first time I came to the Louvre. Most people recommend avoiding it, because of the crowds and serpentine lines around here.

Visitors with advance tickets and the Paris Museum pass don’t have to queue up. So it normally is fast.

So, if you already have your tickets, or the Paris museum pass or are visiting really early (around 9.30am) or have patience, I would suggest you go for it. I’m a touristy tourist – probably because time was not of the essence, experience was. Remember, I live in France – so that helped too.

  1. The (Galerie du) Carrousel entrance: Takes you through the shopping area and leads you to the inverted Pyramid. Yes, there are two Pyramids in the Louvre 🙂
  2. Porte des Lions Entrance: I haven’t used this entrance, so I won’t be able to tell you much about it.
  3. The Passage Richelieu entrance: This is my favourite entrance and as far as I can tell, the shortest and quickest way to get inside. You, however, need a ticket or a membership pass to get inside.

Easiest way to get here is to get off at “Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre” metro stop, cross the Rue de Rivoli road to enter the big arcade labelled “Louvre Museum”. As you walk in, keep to your left, and you will see a printed sign, which I think says something to the tune of “for pass holders”. That is the passage Richelieu.

Once inside, you are now in what is called the “Entrance Hall” also known as the “Napolean Hall”. Here.

  1. You will undergo a security check
  2. You can buy tickets, if you haven’t already
  3. You could pick up the audio guide
  4. You must get the guide-map to the museum (available in most languages)
  5. You have amenities such as toilets, a cloakroom, museum shops, and
  6. You select which wing of the museum you will begin from..

Note: Don’t throw away your tickets, you can exit/enter the 3 wings from the Entrance Hall. Sometimes this the fastest way to get around. But, every time you do that, you need to swipe/show your ticket.

> The geography (of the place):

The museum has 5 floors from -2 to 2.

  • Level -2 is the Entrance hall/Napolean Hall (mentioned above)
  • Level -1 is the museum, and has exhibition rooms.
  • Levels 0,1,2 are all museum

Each of these floors is divided into three wings. Below is a snapshot of what each of them offer. FYI, the stuff marked in GREEN were my areas of focus during this visit.

  1. Richelieu (pronounced: reeshuh-leeyuh)
  • Level -1: Has the Petite Gallery, Sculptures-France, Horses of Marly, sculptures of Psyché, Voltaire among others.
  • Level 0: Sculptures/France (500-1850AD), Near Easter Antiquities (7500BC – 500AD). C introduced me to this section. I fell in love with Puget’s works, the winged bull and the story of Khorsabad – thanks to her.
  • Level 1: Decorative Arts/ Europe (500-1850AD), Napolean’s apartments (are exquisite and mind numbingly luxurious).
  • Level 2: paintings from Northern Europe, France. Some sections here are closed.
An old but smiling Voltaire
  1. Sully (pronounced sue-lee)
  • Level -1: Has the Pavillon de l’Horloge, the medieval moat
  • Level 0: Continuation of Near Easter antiquities, Egyptian civilization and antiquities (4000-30BC), Italien & Estruscan Antiquities (900-200BC), Venus de Milo (Aphrodite),
  • Level 1: Continuation of Decorative Arts/ Europe (500-1850AD), Egyptian antiquities (4000-30 BC), Green& Roman antiquities (700 BC- 400AD), the seated scribe,
  • Level 2: The Louvre -today & tomorrow in the Pavillon de l’horloge. Again some rooms are closed.
The Moat
  1. Denon (pronounced de-noh)
  • Level -1: Has sculptures/ Europe (500-1600 AD) Greek Antiquities(6500-500 BC), Islamic Art, Near Eastern & Egyptian Art (30 BC – 1800 AD)
  • Level 0: Continuation of Italien & Estruscan Antiquities (900-200BC), Roman Antiquities, Sculptures (1500-1850) and far out, arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and Americas (700BC- 1900AD). Also has “The dying slave” by Michealangelo- honestly, this entire corridor is lovely
The dying slave
  • Level 1: The section which houses the Mona Lisa. Also has paintings from Spain, Great Britain, United States, Italy and of course France. Also, a section of decorative arts from Europe. The majestic winged victory of Samothrace is here as well. I always make it a point to visit her.
  • Level 2: Nothing here.
The winged Victory of Samothrace

After about 6+ hours in the museum with a 20-minute coffee and muffin pit-stop, I wrapped up my visit, barely covering everything I wanted to.

The best part…

Before I go, I’ll let you in on the most overlooked work at the Louvre that I just found out about (courtesy of C). Unlike, all the celebrated sculptures, painting or artifacts, this fellow was standing serenely on his own, without hordes of tourists clambering around. Presenting the oldest work in the Louvre, at 9000 years, is the “Statue of the Human Form” or “Statue de forme humaine”. Don’t forget to visit him and tell me what you think?

The oldest work present in the Louvre

Until then,

Á bientôt and keep exploring.


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