The Louvre Museum In Paris – What To See & How To See It

From Leonardo da Vinci to the Venus de Milo, the Louvre Museum in Paris has the most extensive art collection in the world. The Louvre covers more than 2,000 years of art history going back to the ancient civilizations and the birth of art as we know it. You'll see the French masters as well as masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. You'll even get to view the royal crowns of French emperors and kings.

With so much to see, a visit to the the Louvre art museum can be overwhelming, so it's good to plan your visit beforehand, especially since the line-ups are always very long. That's the first thing we'll focus on here — figuring out how to avoid standing in line for hours. Then we'll talk about the artwork you don't want to miss, a little history of the Louvre, and the practical information you'll need. Let's start with those lines —

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How Can You Avoid the Lines at the Louvre?

Avoid the Lines at the Louvre

You should know by now that we hate standing in lines, and one of the main aspects to our Paris planning is figuring out how to avoid them. This is an important thing to think about at the Louvre — it gets nearly 10 million visitors every year, so you know there is always going to be a line to contend with. Let's look at some options.

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Louvre Skip-the-Line Tours

In addition to hating lineups, we love guided tours, especially in museums. Especially in crowded museums! Since we started signing up for guided tours we've learned so much more, we've saved time, and we've had more fun. We're converts. But remember, these tours tend to sell out, so be sure to book early.

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The Paris Museum Pass

One of our most appreciated pieces of advice is to get ahold of the Paris Museum Pass. This gets you free entrance to 60 museums, including the Louvre. More importantly to us, it lets you skip the ticket lines. There's more information in our review of the Paris Pass, including the best way to buy the pass.

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Buy Tickets in Advance

You can book your tickets in advance and have them waiting for you at your Paris hotel. The only disadvantage to this method is that you have to be absolutely sure of the date of your visit.

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The Paris Pass – Save Money & Skip the Lines

The Paris Pass includes free entrance to museums and lets you skip the long ticket lines! PLUS, you get to ride the Metro & buses for free.

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Masterpieces of the Louvre You Shouldn't Miss

Mona Lisa

Among the thousands of works at the Musée de Louvre you're sure to recognize quite a few. Some of the most famous paintings and sculptures ever produced have found their way into the permanent collection of this museum. To help with your planning we've put together a guide of some of the best works of art in the Louvre.

The 8 Departments of the Louvre Museum

How It's Organized

Like so many French museums, the Louvre's website is as rambling and as hard to navigate as the museum itself. But, don't worry. We're going to give you a few short lessons on how the museum is organized. We'll also include some helpful highlights, history, and tips for each of the departments of the museum.

In short, the Louvre museum collections are grouped into eight curatorial departments. Take a peek into each department to help you map out your day at the museum —

  1. Egyptian Antiquities…
  2. Greek & Roman Art…
  3. Near Eastern Antiquities…
  4. Paintings…
  5. Islamic Art…
  6. Sculptures…
  7. Decorative Arts…
  8. Prints & Drawings…

History of the Louvre – Fortress, Palace & Museum

History of the Louvre Art Museum

The history of the Louvre is as fascinating as the story of the works of art it contains. The Louvre started life as a fortress, in the 12th Century, and then later was used as the royal residence for centuries of French kings. It lasted through revolutions, wars, occupations and long periods of housing government bureaucrats to become the famous art museum it is today.

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The Louvre Pyramid

Louvre Pyramid

Yes, the Louvre has certainly seen plenty of changes over the centuries. But some of the most striking and extensive changes to the museum occurred in the late 20th century, with the complete renovation of the building and the addition of the Louvre Pyramids to the courtyard. Learn more about the story behind this latest Paris icon.

The New, Improved Louvre

Nike of Samothrace

The good news is that the Louvre is infusing €60 million to revamp its entrance and ticket areas. Jean-Luc Martinez, the new director of the Louvre, wants to ensure that the Louvre remains accessible and up to date. Can believe that in 1989 a mere 3 million visitors made their way to the Louvre. By 2015 that number more than tripled to 9.8 million.

Monsieur-Director Martinez is also creating a rotating educational center and has an ambitious plan to translate almost 40,000 art display descriptions into English. There will also be WIFI downloadable explanations in other languages. Another bold move is his fundraising plan, which include crowd-sourced funding. The Louvre is hoping to raise €1 million from the public to restore the Nike of Samothrace and its connecting Daru staircase.

In an effort to save money Martinez will reduce the number of temporary exhibitions from 20 to 10 annually, focusing on shows that reinforce their amazing permanent collection.

Go Local at Café Marly

Café Marly

After a visit to the museum we like to take in the view of the Louvre pyramid from a table in the colonnade at Café Marly. It's great to enjoy a glass of champagne with Parisians while overlooking the courtyard of this most famous of museums. We don't recommend Marly as a lunch or dinner place, but it's great for a glass of bubbly.

It's hard to believe that until relatively recently, the courtyard was used as a parking lot for the bureaucrats who worked at to government offices that used to be houses in the Louvre!

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Louvre Facts

The Louvre started rather modestly back in the twelfth century. In the 900 years since then it has seen a lot, and now it's the most popular museum in the world with nearly 10 million visitors every year.

  • The Louvre collection includes more than 380,000 pieces.
  • 35,000 works are displayed at the museum at any given time.
  • There are 4,000 paintings by French artists.
  • The museum's oldest collections are from the ancient civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • The exhibition area is over 650,000 square feet.
  • In addition to the art, you'll also find classes of French school children learning about art in the Louvre. (Most of the rest of us had to settle for images in books!)

Practical Information

Looking for a shorter line-up? Use the Galerie du Carrousel entrance to the Louvre. Take the stairs found in the Tuileries, near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

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