Visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris is a dream for so many people traveling to Paris, and I'm no different! No matter how many times I've visited, I still get a thrill walking up to I.M. Pei's famous glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre. While very controversial when it was built in 1989, the Pyramide has proved its lasting power, and has become one of Paris' iconic sites. Take the escalators down from the pyramid entrance to the main lobby of the museum, where you can buy tickets and find central access all the different areas of the museum.
If the lines are long, check to see how they are at the distributeurs automatiques – the automated ticket machines. It's quick and easy, and the instructions are in several different languages. Once you get your ticket and the map of the museum, you're set! In the main lobby area, you'll also find information about guided tours and renting audio guides. Not sure where to start? Check out the Louvre's themed Visitor Trails, which can be viewed online or printed out ahead of time to carry with you while visiting the museum. The interactive floor plans are also a fun way to orient yourself and plan your visit to the Louvre.
If you're ready explore on your own, there's only one problem. Were to go first! The museum floor plan can be a little tricky to figure out at first, but it helps to remember that the Louvre has three wings in a U shape around the Pyramid entrance: the Denon, Sully and Richelieu. And if that wasn't enough, there are 4 floors to almost each wing: lower ground, ground floor, first floor and second floor. If you plan to cover a lot of the museum, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!
I love sculptures from all periods, and on a recent visit spent a lot of time exploring the ground floor galleries dedicated to sculptures, Eqyptian antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities. On the ground floor of the Denon is my favorite sculpture in the Louvre – Pysche and Cupid by Antonio Canova. Below is just one of about 50 shots I took. My husband was ready to kill me!
The Venus de Milo is a very popular gallery in the Louvre. It's just one of the many spots that you're likely to find a crowd of people waiting to get a close up glimpse and take photos. It's worth the wait!
Even if you only have a short time to visit the Louvre, another must see is the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The gallery is huge, but nevertheless you'll most likely have to be patient to get a close up shot.
If you love decorative arts, then you won't want to miss visiting the galleries on the first floor of the Richelieu wing. The collections of tapestries, ceramics, furniture, jewelry and other objects d'art are the best in the world. Don't miss seeing the exquisite and richly decorated Napoleon III Apartments!
My husband isn't a very big fan of museums and was keen to just tick off the major attractions – the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc. The only challenge was trying to find them all! While there are plenty of signs and we were equipped with the museum map, I think we still walked around in circles dozens of times, and at one stage he thought we'd be trapped in the museum forever. The man on the right had clearly just given up!
No matter if you're in search of a particular work of art or just admiring whatever you happen across while wandering, the Louvre is such a beautiful museum. The painted and gilded ceilings, grand staircases and galleries are full of surprises. I see just a small part of the museum every time I go, and there's plenty to see for a lifetime of visits!
If your feet are up to, just outside the Louvre you'll find the entrance to the underground Carrousel du Louvre shopping center. This is a wonderful shopping area, popular with Parisians and visitors alike, and is home to many elegant shops and a food court with gourmet options. Remember the Glass Pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre? You'll find the bottom—the Pyramide Inversée—continues to form another point inside the Carrousel du Louvre. After the famous scene from the movie The Da Vinci Code, it's another popular spot for photos!
The Louvre Museum is open every day except Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you're looking for a quieter experience, try visiting during the night openings every Wednesday and Friday until 9:45 p.m. Keep in mind that the museum closes on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25. Visit the Louvre Museum website for more details on planning your visit, tickets, special exhibitions and events.