So you’ve made it to Paris! And a visit to the Louvre is definitely on top of your itinerary somewhere, right? Well, you’re in need of a survival kit! Because just a visit to the Louvre could be extraordinary, it’s also frustrating.
10 million people visit the Louvre every year. That’s more than 30,000 a day!! with everyone holding up their phones and tablets to get an untasteful shot of Mona Lisa, you can imagine how exhausting it can get. But the Louvre is not all that bad. If you know a few tricks to skip the line and avoid getting all too immersed in Mona Lisa, a visit to the Louvre can be a reward.
#1 Be realistic about your visit
The Louvre contains more than 380,000 pieces of artwork arranged in a building of 60,000 square metres. You could spend days here and there will still be more to visit. Let’s be real, you’re never gonna see the whole thing. In fact, after reviewing a few dozens of artwork, your aesthetic senses will be saturated and you won’t be able to truly take in the art.
You’re easily going to spend a couple of hours in the Louvre without even trying, but don’t push yourself too far.
#2 Plan your visit to the Louvre at the right time!
The Louvre is open from 9-6 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It’s closed on Tuesdays and on Wednesdays and Fridays, the museum is open until 9.45 pm giving you enough time to enjoy the afternoon session. Crowds at the Louvre are almost inevitable but skipping the weekend could really make a difference. The best day to enjoy the Louvre would be Wednesday and Friday. If you’re keen on spending the whole day, then I’d suggest getting there early to beat the crowds, if you think a couple of hours is all you could take, then I’d recommend heading there after lunchtime. There’s also a food court in Carrousel de Louvre where you can grab a bite before you go.
Rooms of the Louvre start closing 30min before museum closing time so don’t leave anything for last minute.
The museum is free on the first Sunday of the month from October to March but beware of massive crowds.
#3 Save your legs for the real thing
If you’re going to the Louvre later in the day, make sure you don’t plan much for before and certainly not much walking. You’re going to need those legs for the Louvre, so give yourself a break and get public transportation to get you around.
#4 Pick the right entrance
The Louvre has 4 entrances:
- The glass Pyramid
- Carrousel de Louvre
- Portes de Lions
- Passage Richelieu
Most people forget that there are more entrances apart from the pyramid and spend hours queuing under the sun or rain. Forget about the Pyramid! It’s a huge mistake and it will just take up your time and energy. Portes de Lions has been recently open to regular visitors but I’ve personally tried the Carrousel de Louvre in August and hardly spent any time waiting. To reach the Carrousel entrance you’d have to take the stairs to the shopping mall from Rue de Rivoli at number 99 or just enter through ‘Palais Royale-Musee du Louvre’ station on line 1 and 7.
If you’re entitled to free admission (see if you’re eligible here) or have bought tickets in advance, then you could also enter through Passage Richelieu and make sure you’re always in the line specifically for people with already purchased tickets.
If you’ve entered the Louvre through anywhere but the Pyramid, I’d suggest choosing the pyramid exit to the get a glimpse of it before you leave.
#5 Buy tickets in advance
Tickets to the Louvre permanent collection are 15€, but paying an extra 2€ and you could buy tickets in advance and skip the line as well. The Paris pass also covers a visit to the Louvre and gives you fast access. Another way to save time is to buy your ticket through the self-serve machines instead of the ticket office when you get inside. It’s a lot quicker but can only be done if you have a credit card.
#6 Use the bathroom before you go inside
You’ll be following a route within the Louvre and it could be little impractical to change route and go looking for the toilet. Make sure you’ve done your business before heading in.
#7 Pack the right stuff and beware of pickpocketing
The Louvre can get hot with all those people, make sure you have layers so you can take them off if it gets warm. There a couple of restaurants in the museum but having a bottle of water with you could really help.
Also, the Louvre is a great place for pickpocketers. It’s crowded and people are too immersed into the art that they almost forget their belongings. Keep an eye on your stuff at all times or your visit to the Louvre might end up expensive.
#8 Plan a route
A visit to the Louvre can get confusing if you don’t know what to look for. If you’re going to just cover the whole area, then you’d just end up exhausted and with little sense of what you actually saw. The Louvre is huge, and if you really want to observe the art, pick the ones that interest you the most. If it’s your first visit to the Louvre and you don’t have a specific section you might be more interested in, then go for the masterpieces. The Louvre website offers different trails for you to follow and the masterpiece trail is one of them. Check out their website to pick your trail and grab a brochure at the ticket office to guide you.
#9 Take a break if you have to
Your ticket is valid for the whole day so feel free to get out and catch a breath if you need to. The Tuileries garden is a great place to chill and get ready for another round of the Louvre. Don’t forget that your ticket will give you fast access to the museum and there’s no need to wait in line again. Try Passage Richelieu for the fastest entrance.
#10 Download the free audio guide App
If you’re not so much into arts then I’d highly recommend doing some reading about some of the artworks before your visit. But even if you do, there’s a big chance you won’t remember much of it once you arrive. Now you could get a guided tour, buy an audio guide at the museum or download a free audio guide on your phone before you go. I’ve used these before and they are perfect if you’re planning to visit the masterpieces.