Your first look at the Lou­vre is going to be the giant glass pyra­mid sur­round­ed by water (which is great to take pho­tos in front of, FYI). It was built in 1989 by archi­tect I.M. Pei and serves as the main entrance to the enor­mous U‑shaped build­ing around it that is the muse­um (and we don’t want to use the main entrance now do we? Keep read­ing for the skip the line entrances). It also rep­re­sents 1,000 years of con­struc­tion on this very site, first used as a fortress against the Vikings, then a palace, then as, ‘not a palace, I triple swear’ by Napoleon Bona­parte (who com­mis­sioned a bust of him­self in the style of a Roman emper­or to be placed at the win­dows of his impe­r­i­al bed­cham­ber, because Napoleon). This spot has been torn down and rebuilt many times over, clock­ing about a mil­len­ni­um of construction.

It’ll come as no sur­prise then that it used to be a roy­al palace until Louis XIV was like, « Hmmm, not good enough, » and com­mis­sioned the Palace to end all Palaces (and inspo for a tacky Flori­da cou­ple who build a very Florid­i­an repli­ca) out in what was then the hin­ter­lands of a lit­tle burg of Ver­sailles in 1682, drag­ging all the for­lorn nobles and fan­cy peo­ple away from the action of the city with him. Bad for the hard-par­ty­ing urbane aris­to­crats but even­tu­al­ly, it became a win for the art world as it’s now unequiv­o­cal­ly the most epic art muse­um on the entire­ty of plan­et earth.  Now it’s owned by the French pub­lic, the most opu­lent kind of social­ism. All they had to do to get there was chop off about 17,000 (most­ly) fan­cy aris­to­crat­ic and roy­al heads et voilà!

For a time, artists could live there, but in 1793, it was opened to the pub­lic as a muse­um by the rev­o­lu­tion­ary gov­ern­ment. Because of con­stant expan­sion by the French monar­chy (and a whole lot of total­ly not-woke pil­lag­ing), its art now spans 11,000 years of cul­ture and civilization. 

At the Lou­vre, you can see the Mona Lisa (much small­er than you think!) and oth­er works by the name­sakes of the teenage mutant nin­ja tur­tles. There’s also the Venus de Milo, the Winged Vic­to­ry of Samoth­race, Lib­er­ty Lead­ing the Peo­ple, and even reams and stacks of high­brow stuff I pre­tend to know and care deeply about; still super cool though (seri­ous­ly hire a guide who has a back­ground in Art His­to­ry and you’ll get a rich­er expe­ri­ence). Here are our recommendations:

Go when it’s less busy so there’s less of a crowd (avoid mid­day) and less peo­ple to sneak through for that pho­to of the Mona Lisa you were think­ing of get­ting. Wednes­day and Fri­day nights, the muse­um is open until 9:45, so have a decent snack (like deli­cious buck­wheat crepes in the Tui­leries gar­dens at Ter­rasse de Pomone) and ven­ture in around 7pm. Aim to see La Joconde (aka the Mona Lisa) at the very tail end of the night as this is the emp­ti­est the room will be. 

If you are going in alone with­out a guide, a lit­tle secret is that you can skip the (usu­al­ly impres­sive) line snaking around the pyra­mid in the sun and rain by tak­ing one of the semi-hid­den stair­cas­es a few feet from each side of the Arc de Tri­om­phe du Car­rousel (not the big Arc de Tri­om­phe but the mini one right across the street from the pyra­mid). Stroll in like a boss and avoid the crowds (tick­ets here). 

After­wards, unwind with a cock­tail at Le Fumoir and bask in 360• of sump­tu­ous archi­tec­ture includ­ing the back of the Lou­vre, a gor­geous church that was until recent­ly the mini city hall of the 1st arrondisse­ment, and the splen­dor of the nice swath of rue de Rivoli.

Address: Rue de Riv­o­li, 75001

Metro: Palais Roy­al — Musée Lou­vre (line 1 or 7), Lou­vre — Riv­o­li (line 1), Pont Neuf (line 7), Con­corde (line 1, 8 and 12)

Neigh­bor­hood: Lou­vre / Riv­o­li / Tui­leries, 1st arrondisse­ment 

Near­by: Berge de Seine, Palais Roy­al, 59 Riv­o­li, Tui­leries Gardens

Open­ing times: Open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Mon­day to Sun­day except on Fri­day when it’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.

How to book tick­ets to the Lou­vre

Free for those under 18 (under 26 if you’re a resident/EU res­i­dent). You can pur­chase a tick­et from their web­site at €17 or direct­ly at the muse­um for €15.

Oth­er­wise, you can buy your entry tick­ets here or here

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