Today’s guest post is from Mary Jo Manzanares, Travel & Culture Channel Editor and travel blogger at Flyaway Cafe.
One of the most famous museums in the world is the Louvre, or more correctly the Musée du Louvre, and it was one of the items that was high on my Paris must-see list. It is located on the Right Bank (of the Seine) in the 1st arrondissement.
Originally a palace, the museum is now home to some of the most world-famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Aphrodite/Venus de Milo. It opened to the public in 1793, and since then the collections have grown to their current number of over 380,000. It’s not the largest collection in the world, but most art historians argue that it is the finest.
The main buildings of the Louvre look rather fortress-like, and much like I would imagine a fortress to have been, once inside the gates, there are all sorts of lovely things to see.
The central courtyard houses the Louvre Pyramid, and serves as the main entrance to the museum. The Pyramid was designed by architect I.M. Pei, and beneath it is the underground lobby to the museum. There are several entrances into the courtyard, and all will get you to the Pyramid, so if you are encountering crowds at one courtyard entrance, just walk around to another one.
The Louvre is organized into eight departments, displaying artwork up to 1848. You’ll see work by Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Van Dyck, and Leonardo da Vinci.
There is so much stuff to see, that tackling the Louvre can be a daunting task. It is too big to see everything in one day, so unless you have several days to dedicate to viewing it, you will have to come up with a plan of attack.
Continue reading for suggestion on the best way to see the Louvre –
The two best methods for making the Louvre manageable, I think, are to either select a couple of departments that interest you, or to make a list of specific items of art that interest you. A third option, and the one that I took, was a combination. I chose a couple of departments that held the most interest for me (paintings, prints and drawings, and decorative arts) and saw those in some depth. I zipped rather quickly through some of the sculptures and other departments, just checking out the highlights or major displays.
To reach the Louvre via Métro, use the Palais-Royal-Musée stop. If you’re traveling by Batobus, get off at the Louvre stop, quai Francois Mitterrand. Bus lines also stop in front of the main entrance at the Pyramid.
The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, and is open from 9 am – 6 pm daily, with extended hours (till 10 pm) on Wednesday and Friday evenings. It is closed some holidays, so if you are visiting during that time, be sure to double check for holiday hours.
There are several ticket options to see the Louvre. Tickets for the permanent collections are €9 (about $13.50) and provides access for everything except the temporary exhibitions in the Hall Napoléon, and is also valid for the Delacroix Museum. Tickets for the temporary exhibitions are €6 (about $9). A combined ticket represents the best value, as is €9,50 (about $13.75). The Louvre is also covered by the Paris Museum Pass.
And how cool is this: Admission is free for the unemployed, minimum wage-earners, registered disabled (identity card required), those under 18 years of age, and teaches of art history, archaeology, and applied or plastic arts.
I recommend buying advance tickets, or the Paris Museum Pass, as doing so will allow you to bypass the lines using the Passage Richelieu, Porte des Lions, and Galerie du Carrousel entrances. Although the line wasn’t terribly long the day I visited, I still estimate that I was able to save about 45 minutes of time by heading to the front of the queue.
My reflection on visiting the Louvre primarily centered around the expectations that I had for the visit. While I VERY glad that I spent the time to see it, I realized fairly quickly that it was not my favorite art period. Still, I saw some pretty impressive pieces, works by some renowned artists, and go a sampling of European History.
Other observations: The Mona Lisa really is small like they say, and you have to stand way far away from it (behind me in the photo above). Venus de Milo is very cool. Napolean had some seriously great furnishings (photos above).
Not a bad way to spend a day in Paris.