The Louvre in Paris: how to enjoy your visit and what you need to see

Jul 18, 2017

Parisian Caroline Etter, founder of art tour operator, has been a regular visitor to the iconic museum for over 40 years. Here, she shares her tips on how to make the most of your visit.

Give yourself three months if you want to see every piece of art in the Louvre. Don’t have three months? Then this is one Paris outing you really need to plan for in advance. One of the most-visited museums in the world, the Louvre is so big – in terms of square footage – and houses so many artworks (over 76,000!) that you have to be strategic. Because there really is much more to the museum than the glass pyramid and Mona Lisa.

When to go

To avoid the crowds, hit the museum in the morning, when it opens at 9am, with a pre-purchased ticket (see next tip) in hand. Alternatively, take advantage of the late-night openings on Wednesdays and Fridays – the museum stays open until 9:45pm on both days (it closes at 6pm on other days, and is closed on Tuesdays). You’ll have the museum more to yourself and also have more time to contemplate the artworks – apparently, the later it gets, the fewer people there are, so you’ll be free from jostling. Just be sure to have a late-afternoon snack and plan on dining late, like the Parisians do.

Pre-purchase tickets

If you’re on an art museum binge, one of the museum pass plans may be best for you. Otherwise, it’s worth the €2 surcharge to buy an advance Louvre ticket – just visit the museum’s official site – and print it before you go. If you do decide to buy your ticket on the spot, you can avoid the long queues at the cashiers by using one of the numerous ticket machines under the Pyramide (credit card only). Another option is to head to the subterranean Louvre entrance at underground shopping mall Carrousel du Louvre (accessible from the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre metro station or Métro Louvre Rivoli) – this little-known entrance will help you avoid the lines above ground, especially during daytime hours.

Get the audio guide or the app

The Louvre has rolled out a new audio guide – Audioguide Louvre – on the Nintendo 3DS XL platform, which not only gives you insight from the museum’s experts, including curators and lecturers, but their lively commentary and anecdotes on the exhibits will enrich your visit immensely. With an interactive map on the dual screen that will be able to pinpoint your location within the Louvre, as well as 3D photos and reconstructions, HD images, and the choice of seven languages (French, English, Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish), you really shouldn’t walk through the doors into the museum without it. A security deposit of an identification document and rental fee of €5 will put the many stories behind the exhibits in your hands.

There is also the new My Visit to the Louvre app (free to download from App Store and Google Play), which is available in the same seven languages of the Audioguide. Find your way around with 3D models of the space, pick an itinerary if you’ll like to structure your visit and be updated with information about any workshops and cultural events that are taking place.

SEE ALSO: Hidden treasures and alternative places to visit in Paris, France