Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

Paris Sights

The Louvre

  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 02/19/2014

Fodor's Review

The most recognized symbol of Paris is the Tour Eiffel, but the ultimate traveler's prize is the Louvre. This is the world's greatest art museum—and the largest, with 675,000 square feet of works from almost every civilization on earth. The three most popular pieces here are, of course, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory. Beyond these must-sees, your best bet is to focus on whatever interests you the most—and don't despair about

getting lost, for you're bound to stumble on something memorable. Pick up an excellent color-coded map at the information desk. There are slick Nintendo 3DS multimedia guides at the entrance to each wing; for €5 you get four self-guided tours and details about 250 works of art, plus a function to help you find your bearings. There are also 90-minute guided tours (€15) in English daily at 11 and 2. Thematic leaflets (including some for kids) are available from the front desk.

Bear in mind that the Louvre is much more than a museum—it represents a saga that started centuries ago, having been a fortress at the turn of the 13th century, and later a royal residence. It was not until the 16th century, under François I, that today's Louvre began to take shape, and through the years Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XV, Napoléon I, and Napoléon III all contributed to its construction. Napoléon Bonaparte's military campaigns at the turn of the 19th century brought a new influx of holdings, as his soldiers carried off treasures from each invaded country. During World War II the most precious artworks were hidden, while the remainder was looted. Most of the stolen pieces were recovered, though, after the liberation of Paris. No large-scale changes were made until François Mitterrand was elected president in 1981, when he kicked off the Grand Louvre project to expand and modernize the museum.

Mitterrand commissioned I.M. Pei's Pyramide, the giant glass pyramid surrounded by three smaller pyramids that opened in 1989 over the new entrance in the Cour Napoléon. In 2012, the Louvre's newest architectural wonder debuted—the 30,000-square-foot Arts of Islam wing. Built into the Cour Visconti in the Denon wing and topped with an undulating golden roof evoking a veil blowing in the wind, the two-level galleries house one of the world's largest collections of art from all corners of the Islamic world.

The Louvre comprises three wings—the Richelieu, the Sully, and the Denon—arranged like a horseshoe, with the Pyramide nestled outside in the middle. Entering from it, head upstairs to the sculpture courtyards in the Richelieu wing, where you'll find the Marly Horses, four equine sculptures—two carved for Louis XIV and two for Louis XV—in Cour Marly. The ground floor and underground rooms in this wing contain 5th- to 19th-century French sculpture, and the Near East Antiquities Collection, including the Lamassu, carved 8th-century winged beasts. On the first floor of this wing you'll find the Royal Apartments of Napoléon III, a dozen elaborately decorated reception rooms. Continue to the second floor for the French and Northern School paintings, including Vermeer's The Lacemaker. The entrance to the Sully wing is the most impressive, as you can walk around the 12th-century foundations and vestiges of the original medieval moat. Below ground is also the largest display of Egyptian antiques in the world after that of the Cairo museum, featuring such artifacts as Ramses II, a beautifully proportioned statue from the site of Tanis. Upstairs in Salle 16 is the armless Venus de Milo , a 2nd-century representation of the goddess Aphrodite. She was cleaned and restored over six months in 2010, the work taking place after hours and on Tuesday, when the museum is closed. The first and second floors of the Sully Wing boast decorative arts from all over Europe, as well as 17th-century French paintings, including the Turkish Bath by Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. Don't miss one of the newest additions, the contemporary ceiling in Salle 32 on the first floor by American Cy Twombly, unveiled in 2010. On the first floor, period rooms (set to reopen in late 2014) contain 18th-century furnishings and objets d'art. To the south and east of the Pyramide entrance are galleries displaying early Renaissance sculpture in the Denon Wing. Don't skip the coat checks on the ground floor of the Denon or Richelieu wings—much of the museum is hot and stuffy. Walk up the marble Escalier Daru to discover the sublime (and newly cleaned) Winged Victory of Samothrace , a statue found on a tiny Greek island that was carved in 305 BC to commemorate the naval victory of Demetrius Poliocretes over the Turks. In the paintings section of the Denon Wing, you'll find three by Leonardo da Vinci, including the most famous painting in the world: the Mona Lisa , located in Salle 7. Head across to Salle 75 for the Coronation of Napoléon, or to Salle 77 for the graphic 1819 Raft of the Medusa, the first work of art based on a real news event, in this case the survivors of the wreck of a French ship.

The eventual launch of the Louvre’s online reservation system will mean less time in the ticket line and more time ogling the art; until then, shorten your wait by avoiding the main entrance at the Pyramide and heading for the entrance in the underground mall, Carrousel du Louvre (which has automatic ticket machines), or to the Porte de Lions entrance (closed Friday) on the southwestern corner. Note that the shortest lines tend to be around 9:30 am and 1 pm. Crowds are also thinner on Wednesday and Friday nights, when the museum is open late.

Need a break? Visit an onsite café (like Café Richelieu, run by upscale confiseur Angelina); or pop out to an open-air café in the Jardin de Tuileries (ticket holders can come and go through the Porte Richelieu on the rue de Rivoli side).

If you have your heart set on seeing a particular work, check the website for room closings; renovations are always taking place. Remember that the Louvre is closed Tuesday.

Read More

Sight Information

Address:

Palais du Louvre, Paris, 75001, France

Phone:

/01–40–20–53–17-information

Website: www.louvre.fr

Sight Details:

  • €12; €13 for Napoléon Hall exhibitions; €16 with all temporary exhibits and same-day entry to Musée Eugène Delacroix; free 1st Sun. of month
  • Mon., Thurs., and weekends 9–6, Wed. and Fri. 9–9:30; closed Tues.

Updated 02/19/2014

Advertisement

What's Nearby

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Sights

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Sep 1, 2014

Probabely the best museum in the World

Located inside the world heritage site The Louvre museum is one of the oldest, largest and richest museums in the world. Operating as a museum since 1793, the Louvre brings together works of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, of oriental ancient civilizations, of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman graphic arts and of Islamic arts. The Louvre is above all the crown gem of the kings of France, its emperors and its presidents. From the dark

fortress of the late 12th century to the glass pyramid of I. M. Pei, opened in 1989, many have ruled Paris and almost all have left their mark. Since the construction of the Tuileries Palace a few hundred meters away until its demolition in 1871, a series of extensions were made to connect the two royal residences. Museum organization The former palace of the kings of France holds collections of the West and of Islam (up to the mid-19th century), and a selection of African, Asian, Oceanic and American arts. A universal museum, it houses 35,000 works divided into eight departments: Oriental antiquities; Egyptian antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; Islamic art; sculptures; works of art; paintings and graphic arts. In addition to these collections, there is a section on the history of the Louvre including the base of the tower and the medieval moat built by Philippe Auguste in 1190. Visit the Louvre : the (many) options Guided Tours Guided tours of the Louvre (time : 1 hour, 30 minutes) are presented by speakers of the National Museums. You can discover the museum's collections through a selection of works from a specific period, or an artistic movement or theme (there are 43!). The different options would be impossible to detail here. But if you are preparing your first visit to the Louvre, the "Masterpieces of the Louvre" tour allows you to discover the most famous works of art. The architectural promenade allows visitors to understand the various facets of the Louvre. As for the musical tour, it leads visitors to the works of art that represent a dialogue between painting and music. In addition to these options, the Louvre organizes more specific tours. These lecture visits focus on a particular theme in the history of art, a period, a genre or an artist. Discovering the Louvre with the family Though it may seem tedious for children, every effort is made to ensure that the discovery of the museum is fascinating for all. The museum offers activities for children and families, introductions to artistic techniques, an auditorium for special presentations, a multimedia guide ... But above all, on Sundays and during school holidays, a facilitator offers 30 minutes of tips for discovering the works while having fun before attacking the museum’s many rooms and hallways. This is a good introduction to art for children 6 years old and up, as well as adults, and is a free service. Other free services for families include : strollers, baby carriers, wheelchairs and folding chairs, all available at the central information desk. Workshops and tours for children For children from 4 to 13 years old, the museum offers painting, modeling and photography workshops to demonstrate artistic techniques and learn more about different civilizations. Workshops for the whole family are available (6 years old and up), allowing adults and their children to discover and better understand the museum's collections. Chilren’s Itinerary Children can visit the museum using a toolkit along with a guided thematic course on sculptures and techniques, the role of light in a picture, etc.

Read More
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Nov 9, 2008

One of the world's great museums

Without doubt, one of the world's finest museums. Gigantic, with tons of great stuff besides its three most famous holdings: staggering amount of fine paintings, sculpture, and ancient artifacts. An absolute must. To avoid the longer than long lines, get a Paris Museum Pass.

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Oct 12, 2007

so much for your money

the museum is increadable although congested were all famous art mostly the monalisa is we had to force our selves to leave after 2 hours due to the fact that we had only so much time to see the rest of paris otherwise we couldve spent the day there

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Nov 18, 2006

No mention of Hammurabi's Code in Fodor's description?

I'm surprised that Fodor's (as well as most guidebooks) did not mention that Hammurabi's Code is in the Louvre. It's ONLY one of the most important historical artifacts -- the first written code of law in Western Civilization. Definitely worth seeing, along with the so-called "big three" of the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory.

By Jeff

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jun 8, 2003

A Must-See

This is a definite must for any traveler to Paris. How could you say you've seen Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa? Anyway, you don't have to spend all day here. A couple of hours will be satisfactory for most tourists to see the spectacular highlights. The only problem is the crowds which can be expected, but the museum is worth it. The lines move fast. There is also an excellent cafe where you can pick up some quick and cheap food. The building

itself (with the glass pyramid) is an artistic achievement. Overall, the Louvre will be a highlight to your Parisian or European vacation.

Read More

By Sally

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jan 12, 2003

Slow down, I moved too fast . . .

The Louvre is so big and so overwhelming. You have to go, but you can't see it all and I think it's better to see what you really want to see than to rush through the whole museum. Get a good guide book and decide what you want to see before you get there.

By Bob

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Sep 12, 2002

THE BEST OF THE BEST!

For art lovers and non-art lovers, one must visit the Louvre! In fact, you should plan if possible to spend more time here than you might expect. There is just so much to see. Get a good guide book showing where things are and you can kind of plan your own tour thru the complex. The Pei Pyramid is also a cool structure to witness as it sits in the courtyard. This will be one of the highlights of our trip to Paris without a doubt! Get a pass and avoid

the long lines!! Bob

Read More

Show All

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?

Experience

Ease

Value

Don't Miss

Advertisement