The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and houses one of the most impressive art collections in history. But before we get to that, I have to say that the Louvre’s architecture itself is quite impressive. The Louvre was originally built as a fortress in 1190, but was reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace – Nearly every French monarch expanded it – putting their own touch on it. In the late 1600’s when Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles, the Louvre became home to various art academies & began offering regular exhibitions of its members’ works. (fun fact Louis XIV & his wife, Marie Antoinette were later beheaded at Tuilleries Palace adjacent to the Louvre) The National Assembly opened the Louvre as a museum in the 1700’s and it has more or less grown and expanded but stayed a museum until current day.
Now those glass pyramids – were they always there? – They were added in 1983, at that time the Louvre underwent a renovation plan known as the Grand Louvre, according to History.com. Part of the renovations plans called for a new design for the main entrance. Architect I.M. Pei was awarded the project, and he designed the underground lobby and modern glass pyramid structure in the courtyard that we see today. (interestingly enough during our most recent visit to the Louvre for the photos above we learned that I.M Pei passed away at 102. You can learn more about him here and here. I will forever cherish our photos taken that day, as many were visiting to pay remembrance to him at this iconic location entrance he designed.
ok . ok. enough out the structure itself, lets discuss the museum and my tips for visiting..
Take the Metro & get off at Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (Line 1)
- The Louvre is open every day but Tuesday and the following holidays: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day & International Workers’ Day (May 1). The hours are: Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
- I suggest NOT visiting on Monday. Most Parisian museums are closed on Mondays, not Tuesdays like the Louvre – thus the Louvre becomes quite busy as it is the only one open. If you have to visit on Monday- just make sure you have a plan, and come with patience.
- Avoid the lines and purchase tickets online
- Another tip to avoid lines is: Use a secondary entrances. In the past we have used the Porte des Lions entrance (update: as of 2019 this entrance is closed during renovations) With the above being closed we were directed to the Porte de Richelieu entrance (here we found an alternative entrance that can be used for individuals & groups) There are quite a few other entrances available – all of which will be quicker than the main entrance do your research & avoid the line.
- Because of its size of the collections housed at the Louvre, it is impossible to see the entirety of the Louvre in one visit – use the resources available on the official site to determine what you want to see and map out a plan before going. Might I suggest for a first time visitor the Masterpieces Visitor Trail,” timed at about 90 minutes and covering the 10 most famous works – I used this during my first visit & was glad I did.
- Suggestions for what to see: Of course you will want to see the famous pieces the Louvre is known for: Mona Lisa (disclaimer there will be large crowds & she is way smaller than I had imagined), Venus de Milo (one of if not the most famous Greek statues), The winged Victory of Samothrace, Coronation of Napoleon (this piece is incredible in size 33 feet by 20 feet, and in detail)
- Bring your camera – yes the Louvre allows photography (with some exceptions of course) I definitely snapped some photos each trip along with the name of the piece – this not only allowed me to research the pieces further when I got home but allowed me to share my favorite pieces/exhibits with loved ones.
I must admit even with the tips above and several trips to the Louvre there are many collections I haven’t seen – not to mention the visiting exhibits and artists. I can’t wait until our next trip back – as I am of course always dreaming and thinking about what I want to see next….