The most visited museum in the world boasts more than a few masterpieces. With over 35,000 pieces of art on display and a crush of visitors six days a week, the Louvre is anything but quaint and calming. It can easily be one of the most exhausting experiences possible in Paris — even if it is one of the most rewarding.
With an expansive Egyptian collection, some enormous French canvases, and one curious little Italian who gets a whole wall to herself, the Louvre can take days to appreciate fully. But who has the time or stamina to see it all?
Related: Cheap hotels near the Louvre
6 Louvre tips to save time and energy
If you’re heading to the Louvre for the first time, here are some tips to help you survive the experience and to come out still smiling, just like the museum’s most famous resident…
1. Pack accordingly
While you aren’t exactly trekking the Andes, going through the Louvre is physically taxing. Bringing a small snack or bottle of water in a bag can help subdue any irritation that may occur while struggling to find an exit, bathroom, or place to sit for a rest. It can also get warm in the Louvre at some points, so have a layer or two ready to remove.
2. Make a game plan
Take a map and take a moment to sit (emphasis on sit) and plan. The Louvre is big. Very big. Wandering it aimlessly can be enjoyable if you have no agenda, but if you want to see the major sights or any specific wings, make sure you plan a rough route first.
There are maps of the Louvre online that you can use to plan out your route before you enter the museum. Or, you can get a map upon entry and take a minute to devise a plan of action so that you don’t get lost.
Otherwise, you’ll be knee-deep in the Egyptian wing before you realize you want to see the kings’ crowns, the Venus de Milo, and the statue garden with no logical way to tie them all together.
You can also plan ahead and get tickets online, so you don’t have to wait in line once you arrive at the museum. It costs a few extra euros, but it could end up saving you a lot of time.
3. See the “big three” while you have energy
See the highlights first while you still have the energy to fight the crowds, especially if traveling with children. The big three are the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory statue perched atop one of the majestic staircases. With signs pointing the way, it’s not hard to find them but plan on hitting them right away and then escaping to lesser-traveled galleries already feeling accomplished.
Keep in mind that the Mona Lisa is a tiny painting that is secured behind a bulletproof case and is separated by a physical barrier. If you’re dreaming of analyzing the brush strokes up close, you’re probably better off looking at high-resolution pictures of the painting online at home.
4. Enter through a different entrance
Know your entrance options. Most people enter at the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, which is fine if there’s no line. But the safer bet is to enter into the Carrousel du Louvre, the underground shopping mall, toward an inverted glass pyramid (think Da Vinci Code) by the Apple store. At this entrance, the security line is often nonexistent. Numerous ticket machines in the main lobby make buying your ticket a breeze, but if you have a museum pass, it makes things even quicker yet.
Moreover, you can also enter through Rue Rivoli. This entrance links into the Carrousel du Louvre, and if you exit from Metro line 1 (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre), you’ll only have to walk about a minute to enter the Louvre from Rue Rivoli.
5. Consider the audio guide
While it sounds lame, be warned: None of the signs in the Louvre are in English. So unless your French is up to snuff, you might not know exactly what you’re looking at. And with 35,000 pieces of art and no stories to go with them, this could amount to some quick frustration for you and your travel mates. The Louvre audio guide might be a good bet. This audio guide costs €5 to rent.
6. Save it for later
No one said you have to go to the Louvre immediately. If it’s a once in a lifetime trip that brings you to Paris, by all means, get in there. But if you’re already planning your next trip, then there’s no reason to rush inside. There’s no shortage of things to do in Paris, so either wait until you’ve experienced what you really want to get out of Paris or else wait for a drizzly day to appreciate all of the wonders this former palace contains.
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 in the 1st arrondissement
Hours: 9 am to 6 pm; closed on Tuesday
First Saturday of each month: the museum is open until 9:45 pm and admission is free starting at 6 pm
Admission: €17 (online), €15 (at the museum)
Also in our guide: Planning a trip to Paris right now? Head over to our Paris guide to read our hotel reviews. Our editors have visited, inspected and reviewed affordable hotels all over town, and recommended those we think are the best value. See advice on neighborhoods and discover our favorite cheap hotels in the City of Light.
Your Louvre survival tips?
Do you have another piece of advice for visiting the Louvre without losing your sanity? Tell us about it in our comments section below.
Source: Euro Cheapo