The Louvre Museum, the world’s largest museum, can be incredibly intimidating when approaching its collection for the first time. There are over 300,000 works of art in the museum that spans over a surface area of 72,35m2. Even those who visit the Louvre frequently would find themselves lost in the different wings and galleries inside the museum. Read on for our detailed guide to what to see at the Louvre. We also include the latest information on the Mona Lisa’s new temporary location, how to gain speedy access inside the museum, and the best times to visit the Louvre.
What to see at the Louvre: Top 3 works of art
1. Venus de Milo
The first of the top 3 works of art you must see in the Louvre is Venus de Milo. Also known as Aphrodite, this ancient Greek sculpture is definitely one of what to see at the Louvre. This marble masterpiece is renowned for its beauty and famous for its absent arms. Critics praise is as the epitome of graceful female beauty. This sculpture was also one of the works of art carefully sheltered during World War II so don’t miss the chance to see this remnant of history!
Location: on the ground floor in room 345 in the Sully Wing
2. The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa is the most obvious answer to the question ‘what to see at the Louvre’. This painting created in 1503 is often described as the the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world. All of this build up has led to the surprise, and sometimes disappointment, of many visitors to see that the painting is actually only a half-length portrait that measures 77cm x 53cm. It is quite small indeed in contrast to other popular paintings.
It is said that about 30,000 people a day come to see the Mona Lisa where the queue can stretch for hours. The staff at Louvre are also currently trying to cope with the crowds by asking people to move on after standing in front of the Mona Lisa for 30 seconds.
Usually, the Mona Lisa is located in the Denon Wing of the Louvre but because of the extremely high volume of visitors at the Louvre this year, the Mona Lisa painting has been moved to the 2nd level inside the Galerie Médicis in the Richelieu Wing.
The Mona Lisa will return to her usual gallery in the Denon Wing in time for a major exhibition opening in October 2019 marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death.
Temporary location: on the 2nd level in room 801 in the Richlieu Wing
Usual location: on the 1st level in room 711 in the Denon Wing
3. The Winged Victory of Samothrace
This magnificent statue created in the 2nd century BC is also called the Nike of Samothrace. This is one of the sculptural masterpieces from the Hellenistic period. Make sure to keenly observe the wings. You’ll be surprised to find out that it is actually made up of 118 pieces! This statue has been prominently displayed at the Louvre since 1884 and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world!
Location: on the 1st floor in Room 703 in the Denon Wing
What to see at the Louvre: the museum’s three wings
As earlier described, in the Denon wing of museum is where you’ll find the most famous or popular works at the Louvre. If you only have time to visit one wing, this is the one to visit but of course, it is highly recommended to go to all three. The Denon Wing is where the Grand Galerie is located, one of the most beautiful hallways of the Louvre that also houses the Louvre’s collection of Italian paintings, dating back to around the 13th century.
What to see here: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa (will be back in October 2019), Liberty Guiding the People
The Richelieu Wing is probably the least visited wing, but home to the stunning Napoleon Apartments that should definitely not be missed. There is also the great café Angelina right outside the Napoleon apartments, if you are needing a little coffee stop throughout your visit! In addition to the Napoleon apartments, in the Richelieu wing on the ground floor there are Near Eastern Antiquities, including the Law Code of Hammurabi. In this section, you will also have an excellent view overlooking the Cour Marly, a beautiful space filled with sculptures, most commissioned by Louis XIV.
What to see here: the Rubens: Appartements Napoléon III, Law Code of Hammurabi, Galerie Médicis
The Sully wing is where Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities are largely located, including the Venus de Milo. The true gem of the Sully wing, however, is visiting the Medieval Louvre section where you can visit the ruins of the Louvre, to see how it formed when it was a fortress in the 12th century. Although there are no “artworks” here, learning about the history about the Louvre itself, remarkable in regards to its history and evolution from a fortress to a palace to one of the most remarkable museums in the world, is well worth the visit in itself.
What to see here: Venus de Milo, the Sphinx, and the Louvre ruins
Things to know before your visit
Buying Tickets to the Louvre
These days, it is highly recommended to buy tickets to the museum in advance. Especially if you’re planning on going to see the Mona Lisa. In fact, the Louvre is now advising that only those who have pre-booked well be guaranteed to see the famous portrait. Simply head to the Louvre’s official website to purchase the tickets. Each ticket costs 17€ plus 1€ for the online purchase surcharge.
If you’re planning on seeing a few other museums and monuments in Paris, you might find the Paris Museum Pass a worthy purchase.
Entering the Louvre Museum
The most well-known access to the Louvre is through its main entrance: the Pyramid. However, the queues here are always very long, where tons of people in both small and large groups wait. Only disabled persons are exempt from waiting in line at the Pyramid entrance.
A quicker way to enter the Louvre is through the museum’s underground shopping mall, Carrousel du Louvre. This shopping mall has a great number of French and international brands. It’s also a much better place to shop for souvenirs rather than at the crowded museum boutique! Download your special voucher to get a free goodie bag!
Carrousel du Louvre is also perfect for travellers because there is an official Paris Tourism desk that can answers all of your travel and sightseeing questions. You can access Carrousel du Louvre from Rue de Rivoli. If you’re coming by subway, you can access it from the Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre station.
When to visit the Louvre
Though the Louvre always has a high number of visitors, avoid the weekends as locals will also be joining in. Another day to avoid visiting the Louvre would be Mondays. This is when Château de Versailles is closed therefore lots of tourists will head to the Louvre museum instead.
The best times to visit are on Thursdays and Wednesday and Friday evenings when the Louvre museum is open until 10pm. Admission is also free for everyone under 26 years old on Friday evenings at the Louvre! The first Sunday of every month from October to March also grants free admission to all visitors.
Schedule: Open Wednesdays to Mondays from 9am to 6pm; until 10pm on Wednesdays and Fridays
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Metro: Line 1: Louvre-Rivoli or Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre
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