The Louvre is one of the worlds’ top museums! It’s pretty overwhelming when you first get to the Louvre with its endless corridors and lines of people. You will not be able to see every item on display no matter how hard you try. Even if you spent 30 seconds in front of each item it would take over 6 weeks. Still set on going in? Here are some of my tips for surviving the Louvre!
Buy Your Ticket in Advance
If you are planning a visit to the Louvre, try to buy your ticket in advance. Having your ticket in advance will not only give you piece of mind that you should be able to get in for the day, but it also means you should be able to use the express or fast lane at the Louvre entrance when you arrive. The main entrance to the Louvre if where the famous glass pyramids are. This area always has lines, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that you are able to use the Carousal de Louvre mall entrance or the Metro entrances if you already have your ticket. They are often less crowded.
Note that any special exhibit requires an advance ticket.
There is a Security Check
The Louvre does not allow sharp objects into the museum. You will be asked to have your bag go through an x-ray scanner and you through a metal detector. Backpacks are only allowed if they are small. I found that a lot of tourists had to wear there backpack in front of them at many French Museums. There is a free coat and luggage check you are able to utilize with your ticket once you enter the Pyramid entrance.
Museum Pass Requires a Reservation
If you are using the Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass that comes with the Paris Museum Pass, you are required to make a free reservation with the pass to enter the Louvre. The reservation can be made on the Louvre’s website. You will be asked to enter the pass number so ensure you have the pass with you when you make it. The reservation is a timed entry to the museum. You don’t need to print it, but make sure you can pull it up on your smart phone so the QR code on it can be scanned.
Save Money on Tickets!
If you are under 18, ensure you have your ID with you. The Louvre is free to anyone under the age of 18. You just need to visit the ticket office window for a free ticket. If you are an EU citizen and under 26, you are also free. EU ID card is required. The first Saturday of the month also is free for all visitors.
Have a Plan of Attack
There are 3 wings at the Louvre: Denon, Sully and Richlieu. Denon is the most famous of the 3 wings. There are over 30,000 pieces of art to see in the Louvre; if you don’t have a lot of time, pick the main 3 or 4 items you really want to see and go from there. I would always recommend starting with looking at a map of the Louvre which highlights where the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and other popular pieces are. The Louvre website has free maps you can look over as well.
Know What You Are Looking At
If you have the time, read up on a little bit of the Louvre before you visit it. It will make your visit more enjoyable to know what you are looking at. I remember hearing a few tourists wonder what the “rock” carving was doing in the Babylon wing. They did not seem to know that it was Hammurabi’s legal code (the first written laws in the world).
The Mona Lisa Always has a Huge Crowd
The top draw of the Louvre if arguably the Mona Lisa. This was the first item I went to see since I hate crowds. The Mona Lisa was not in her normal spot with the Italian painters, but was on display in the Richlieu wing. I waited about 45 minutes to see her and was shocked that the large amounts of tourists were pushy and very very rude when it came to taking a photo of the Mona Lisa. She is behind glass and has a rope protecting her from any tourists getting too close. From my experience, I was pushed out of the way and elbowed multiple times as tourists shoved as close as possible to the front of the line to get a picture with their phones. The crowds don’t die down. Go a little to the side and use your auto zoom if you can for just as good of a photo.
You Can Bring Food Into the Louvre
They do allow for food to be brought into the Louvre. The only rule is that it can only be eaten under the pyramid hall. They do not want you to eat anywhere near the art. As of August, you are also no longer allowed to leave and reenter the museum. If you want to bring a drink with you, I would only bring water. You can always buy one from a cafe. There are a variety of places to choose from. It can be pricey.
Ensure Your Phone or Camera Is Fully Charged
The Louvre will drain your battery and take up a lot of space on your phone or camera with the amount of photos you will take. Bring an external charger if you are able to. The Louvre does have free wifi for you to be able to enjoy.
The Louvre if Open Late
The Louvre if open late on Wednesdays and Fridays. Plan to enter later in the evening and the crowds should be a lot lighter. It is closed on Tuesdays.
If you have multiple days at the Louvre, fantastic! If not and you are doing everything in one day, make sure you take breaks. If can be overwhelming and your feet will hurt. I walked 10 miles through all the galleries when I was there. If you see a bench, take advantage of it and sit and appreciate what you are looking at. If you need some time, step out into the pyramid hall area and have a snack.
Shop At the End
People always are in a hurry to buy an item right when they see it. For some that’s fine. I am guilty of this if it is an item I think will sell out right away, but otherwise, don’t buy anything until the end of your visit. You will be much happier if you don’t have a heavy bag to carry around and worry about!
I hope this post helps you have a better idea of how you will survive your visit to the Louvre. Until next time, happy travels!