The Louvre is immense, and one could spend a week exploring its exhibits. Unfortunately, most of us don't have that kind of time. Find out how to get the most out of one of the world's top art museums, Le Louvre.
Time Required: One day (preferably) or a half-day
Choose a day and a time when the Louvre is least likely to have long lines. Mornings early in the week (the museum opens at 9 a.m.) work best (although you should keep in mind it is closed Tuesdays). Even though you can get in free on this day, avoid the museum like the plague on the first Sunday of each month. The lines can wind around the exterior buildings.
You can enter via the glass pyramid like everyone else, but you can also get to the ticket office through the Louvre mall (access on rue de Rivoli) underneath the museum. This can save you one of the two lines you might wait through. Sometimes, however, there is a line here as well to get in.
Louvre travel guides
Study the map before you enter and decide what you want to see. You will have to commit to a section before you buy your ticket. If you want to see the museum's trademark piece, the Mona Lisa, buy a ticket for the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions (Richelieu, Sully and Denon).
To see the Mona Lisa, head straight for the 13th-15th century Italian paintings section (on the first floor). You can always work your way to other exhibits afterwards. Expect a crowd of people elbowing their way close to the painting.
Besides the Mona Lisa, prioritize what you'd like to see. The museum has a vast range of exhibits, ranging from fascinating Islamic art and Egyptian antiquities to sculptures and art prints. The paintings section includes extensive works from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and England.
Be sure to hold on to your map of the exhibits. It will help you avoid getting lost in the maze-like corridors. Try to avoid getting sidetracked too much (although this is a fun place to wander). Or, if you don't have a priority of what to see, indulge in some aimless wandering. When it's time to leave, leave.
Louvre travel Tips:
To get to the Louvre, take the Metro to Palais-Royal / Musée du Louvre. Better yet, walk along the Seine until you reach it. You can't possibly miss the imposing structure (but keep in mind you will only see the pyramid when you enter the Louvre's courtyard).
If you are disabled or have a child in a stroller, alert the security officers at the pyramid entrance. There is an elevator available, and you will get priority entrance.
The museum is open every day but Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are also evening openings until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is closed on New Year's Day, Labor Day (May 1) and Christmas Day.
Entry costs 8.50 euros to enter either the permanent collections or the temporary exhibits at Napoleon Hall. The price drops to 6 euros after 6 p.m. For entry to all exhibits, the price is 13 euros (or 11 euros after 6 p.m.). A ticket is valid all day for repeat entries. Entry is free for anyone under age 18 (or under 26 on Friday evenings) and the disabled.
If you get hungry, don't despair. You needn't leave the museum. There are several restaurants in the museum and in the mall below it. They have a bit of a food-court-esque feel to some of them, but it is food. Just a bit on the low-quality, high pricetag side.
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