If you are a museum buff then you may want to dedicate a whole day to the Louvre (and other museums), but just a heads up, as the biggest museum in the world, and 380,000 pieces (only 35,000 are on display), even if you spent 100 consecutive full days, you could maybe see every piece of art, if and only if, you spent no more than 30 seconds on each piece. WOW. That’s big.
So what’s the best way to visit? Well here are a few pointers to help you have the best Louvre experience.
- Tickets: You can purchase tickets in advance here, from the official Louvre website, or here, with this “skip the line” ticket from Viator. The catch is you must pick up your tickets at a different location before going to the Louvre (about a block away) and they are more expensive this way. Today, there are automatic machines inside that make purchasing your ticket much easier in my opinion. We have never purchased tickets in advance and haven’t had a problem so far.
- Getting in: If the line at the Pyramid entrance is outrageous (as it can be) try La Carrousel de Louvre entrance. It can be reached underground by taking the metro stop on line 1 and 7, ‘Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre,' or you can access it from 99 Rue de Rivoli. If you enter above ground, you will walk down the stairs, past all the shops, until you see an inverted pyramid. Hopefully the line here will be shorter! There is a lot of info out there on the best entrance. We can tell you from experience that the Porte des Lions entrance is currently for groups only and the Porte de Richelieu is supposedly for season pass holders and tour groups (we have only ever entered from the Pyramid entrance as the lines were never a concern).
- When to visit: You know the saying “the early bird gets the worm?” Well, as we mentioned earlier, if your whole purpose for visiting The City of Lights is for the museums than by all means go early! But if you are like us, I find that an afternoon visit to the Louvre for a couple hours is perfect. Why? Well first off, everyone is told to go early, so why not wait till some of the crowds have dispersed. Secondly, I find that a walk through the Louvre after I’ve eaten lunch keeps me from purchasing an overpriced sandwich from the Paul shop inside the museum. It also makes for a great afternoon, especially if it’s a hot summer day. And finally, it’s personal preference, but I love mornings and would rather be outside!
- Best day to visit: Remember that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays while most of the other museums in Paris are closed Mondays. So by the process of transitive property (actually not at all but I just wanted to throw that in there), Mondays are the busiest day to visit the Louvre and if at all possible, should be avoided. Weekends should also be avoided as locals also love visiting and will take to the weekends to stroll around the Louvre. Our sweet spot falls on Wednesdays (or even Fridays) as the museum is open later these days.
- How to visit: As I said before, I am no museum buff, but my best advice to you is to plan your visit in advance. Do a little research on what you want to see and place them on the map prior to visiting. The Louvre is organized into three main wings: Denon, Richelieu, and Sully and from there you have endless possibilities. Even if you go with no agenda, you are walking through a masterpiece itself, savor this moment because hey, you are in Paris and visiting the Louvre!
- Final Thoughts: Here’s the deal, at the end of the day, you are planning a trip to the world’s most visited museum (a whopping 12 million visitors annually). Set your expectations. Know that you will not get a picture of the Mona Lisa without a giant crowd surrounding her (and also that it’s much smaller in real life). Take your time and enjoy walking through these great halls once decorated with kings and queens. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go hungry.