I’m sure you’ve heard of the Louvre before (if you haven’t you will after this post) The art museum is the largest and most well-known in the world, and for good reason. The Louvre itself is a work of art, a historical landmark juxtaposed by a modern glass pyramid. It’s a must-see while visiting Paris, but it can be a little overwhelming.
I’ll walk you through our visit to the Louvre, where to go, what to see, and some other tips on how to confidently make your way through the museum.
We planned our trip around the free museum day, which is every first Sunday of the month. Majority of the museums in Paris are free on that day, so our visit needed to be intentional and quick. I would highly suggest thinking about this when planning your trip, we saved a lot of money and were able to visit museums we otherwise might not have gone to.
So, I guess this is tip one, try to plan your museum visit on the free day!
Tip two: Go early. This is the only way to beat the crowds. We slept in this morning and were just a half an hour later than we wanted to be, and there was already a long line to get into the museum.
Thankfully a Louvre employee saw our disappointed faces and that we had a squirmy toddler. They walked us right up to the front of the line, to the priority access. Another perk for traveling with kiddos, you get special treatment! Especially in Paris, everyone was very kind and accommodating. Most of the museums offer a poussette (stroller) for use while you are there.
Tip three: There are several different entrances, the front entrance by the pyramid is not the only one. We took the metro and went in the underground entrance through the mall. A quick google search and someone can explain this better than I can.
Tip Four: Do some Research before you go. Plan ahead and view the collections in advance. I mentioned earlier that this is the largest museum in the world. The collections in this museum are endless, and you could easily spend an entire day here and still not see everything. Check out The Louvre’s website, browse through the collections, and write down what you’re most excited to see. Read up on your art history of the ones you picked, it will make seeing them in person more richer.
I personally scoured the website, here’s what I found most helpful in terms of learning about the collections and works of art in the Louvre:
visitor trails – get an idea of some paths you can take through the museum
floor plan with selected works – i found this to be most helpful
Empower yourself beforehand, so that you’re main focus is on viewing the art YOU want to see.
Tip Five: Study the map of the museum before and acquaint yourself with the different wings. And if you can, try to stick to just a couple wings of the museum. Continuing on from tip three, but it’s very important to do some leg work before your trip. You don’t want to get to the museum and feel too overwhelmed. And you definitely don’t want to be spending your time wandering about. I found this map helpful.
Look Up. There’s art everywhere, even on the ceilings.
Tip Six: Make a plan. After my research I decided to stick to the sully and denon wings and to see mostly masterpieces. I wrote out the pieces I wanted to see (you’ll see some of those in this post! ) and made a route to take so that we wouldn’t miss anything. Sit down before your trip, imagine that you’re at the Louvre, and imagine your visit. After doing this before our trip, I almost felt like I had been there before, I knew where things were, and felt comfortable getting around. (I mean, I of course still lost my way a couple times)
We wanted to get through the museum fairly quickly, so this worked out well for us. All of the sculptures and paintings we wanted to see were very close to each other. While we missed out on a lot of other incredible things at the museum, I’m very satisfied with my experience at the Louvre. And, I know I’ll be back again someday. 🙂
Don’t forget to bring your little ones! I’m a big fan of exposing kids to art at an early age. Your visit may look a little different and be quicker, but it’s honestly a little freeing. It forces me to focus my time and energy on the art that I truly want to see. And hopefully when they’re older they won’t giggle when they see paintings, like the La Grande Odalisque by Ingres.
Tip Seven: Prioritize your time, so that you can slow down and take it in. The majority of my tips here are all of what to do ahead of time. It’s important so that when you’re at the museum you can spend more time in front of art. Over time, I’ve learned that I don’t need to look at ever piece of art in a museum. My favorite museum experiences are always ones where I spent more time with a few paintings, instead of briefly looking at all of them.
We spend quite a bit of time in front The Raft of the Medusa which is incredible and haunting. I included the Louvre’s info page for each of the paintings under their captions if you’re interested in learning more. Here’s 15 quick facts about this painting that help you to better understand it’s meaning.
I wish I had a better photo of this painting by Jacques Louis David. It was way bigger than I imagined and the detail was incredible.
This room houses some incredible masterpieces. All of the paintings in this post, except for the Mona Lisa, all live here in this room. We spent the majority of our time here.
Tip Eight: Don’t forget why you’re visiting the museum. Sometimes it can be easy to go through the motions and just walk around mindlessly. You’re not visiting an art museum just because it’s on a list of things to do, or because it will somehow make you a more cultured person. You’re there to see art, to appreciate it, to react to it, and to enjoy it. Sometimes that means not seeing everything and sitting down in front of one painting for most of your time. Maybe even getting out your sketchbook to study it and to draw.
Do what you need to do to make the most of this experience. Don’t worry about anyone else, or what they may think.
Don’t forget to get a selfie with Mona Lisa. Ruby is obviously way cooler than I am and did not want to participate. I wasn’t planning on doing this, and was actually against it, but am now glad that I did, it’s kind of fun.
Tip Nine: Enjoy the outside of the Louvre as well. I wish for more time enjoying the grounds and the Tuileries gardens. We did have a little time walking the gardens, enjoying a crepe and cafe creme. We told ourselves we’d come back, but never did.
October was such a beautiful time to visit Paris. I was surprised to see so many flowers still in bloom! And then to add to that the trees were starting to change color. Such a beautiful time of the year.
Tip Ten: Take the time to talk about or think through your experience. When you visit, I definitely recommend that you take them time to rest in the gardens and talk about your favorite moments at the museum. After seeing so many incredible things, it’s good to process it all.
We grabbed a nutella crepe and walked down to the Orangerie Museum, which is at the end of the gardens. Another tip, to enjoy your breakfast and coffee BEFORE heading to the museum. In case you forget, there is a cafe in the museum. We didn’t do this and were a little hungry by the time we were done.
Let me know what you think and if this was helpful!
Have you been to the Louvre, or are you planning to visit soon? I would love to hear your tips on making the most of your visit!