The Louvre is incredible. Vast, glorious and saturated with history, the Louvre is a beloved Parisian landmark and the world’s largest art gallery. To merely glance at every piece within its grand walls would take weeks upon weeks upon weeks upon weeks.
As one of the most important historical and cultural institutions in the world, unsurprisingly, the Louvre is constantly inundated with visitors. From local Parisians to crowds of school children, from large groups of international tourists to bedraggled backpackers, 10.2 million people paid the Louvre museum a visit in 2018. With all those people and more than 72,000 square metres of exhibition space to discover, a visit to the Louvre can turn out to be one hot, frustrating mess.
Mission: The Louvre
On a 24-hour trip to Paris earlier this month, I had one goal in mind. Well, two. 1) To drink
a shit load of French wine on a Parisian boulevard and 2) to finally, finally, see the Louvre. With only 24 hours to spare, forward planning was essential for the latter of my goals. And I mastered it! Hurrah! So, here are five tips to make sure you actually enjoy the Louvre and all its glory.
It’s the most basic trick in the book. Sometimes it can work out a hell of a lot cheaper to book with a local operator upon arrival (I was mortified that I paid $600 for a Machu Picchu trek ahead of time when the local prices were around $400 cheaper), but the Louvre is not one of them. Book ahead, get a specific time slot, jump the queue and et voila! An easy, stressfree beginning to the Louvre experience. We used Head Out and was very happy to stroll past the growing queues at the ticket line when we got there.
To further avoid any long queues and crowds, use the Lion’s Gate entrance. Most visitors enter past the famous pyramid, but if you opt to check out the pyramid after the museum itself, you can save yourself a looot of time. Lion’s Gate entrance is located on the east of the Pont Royal on the Quai des Tuileries.
GET AN AUDIO TOUR
We didn’t get an audio tour because, you know, we can read. Little did we know, however, that the vast majority of the information in the Louvre is in French, and French only. In a few halls, a selection of large, plastic sheets are available to international visitors in a variety of languages, but it’s pretty sub-standard. So, to avoid disappointment – the audio tour is worth it. Unless, of course, you speak French.
It’s literally impossible to see everything in the Louvre in one visit – or even 10 visits. You will never get through everything – so pick one or two exhibitions that you really want to see, and spend a couple of hours ingesting it all. We chose the ancient Egyptians and it was glorious.
Again, this is not a groundbreaking tip, but one that so many forget to adhere to. With so many people trampling the marble floors of every single exhibition space, the Louvre can get hot and stuffy. There’s nothing worse than trying to muster excitement at these magnifiq artefacts and collections while dying a slow death of thirst and heat. Take water with you and make use of the lockers. An annoying additional cost to an already costly excursion, but if you’re going to be spending some time roaming the exhibition spaces, it’s worth the investment.
A lot of visitors do not know it, but the Louvre really is an institution that is accessible to everyone – whatever the budget. For those on a shoestring, entrance is free every first Saturday of the month between October and March, as well as on the 14th of July. Entry to the museum is free from 6:00 PM – 9:45 PM on a regular weekday, as well as free to those under the age of 18 and EU citizens under the age of 25.