Skip to main content

The Absolutely Perfect Hack for Spending Time at the Louvre

My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Art Museum of All Art Museums

Originally built as a palace for Phillip II, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. Holding a prominent spot in French history, this massive campus is located on the right bank of the Seine River.

When I say "massive," I truly mean massive! With about 652,000 square feet (not including storage or restricted areas), there are over 35,000 pieces of art available for viewing and 380,000 objects and displays. I am told that seeing every piece of art in the Louvre would take about three months. I don't know about you, but spending three months viewing art really isn't my cup of tea!

So, in this article, I will share my personal hack on seeing the most important pieces and making the most of your time at this spectacular museum.

A Tidbit of History

As stated, the original purpose of the Louvre was as a palace and fortress for Phillip II. It wasn't until August of 1793 that it opened as a museum with 537 paintings. Structural issues caused the museum to close in 1796 and re-open in 1801.

Throughout time, the Louvre has endured war, occupation, fire, and controversy. Today, it is considered an iconic landmark in Paris and a must-see for all who spend time in Paris.

Enjoying the Louvre (Without Being Overwhelmed)

There are eight departments (Near Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings, Prints, and Drawings). These departments are separated into three wings (Sully, Denon, and Richelieu).

Formulate a Plan for Your Visit

A few nights prior to my planned visit to the Louvre, I had been on a Seine River dinner cruise. In speaking with the lovely couple at the next table over, I received some vital information about my upcoming Louvre adventure.

  1. It's very crowded and the security to gain entrance is intense. Even with Skip the Line tickets, it took this couple two hours to get in. Their appointment was at ten a.m., the same as mine.
  2. There are lockers available to store outerwear, purses, and other personal belongings. However, it is extremely difficult to find an available locker. I found this to be accurate.
  3. Once inside, the volume is almost deafening. After two to three hours, the adventure becomes one of search and rescue. You find yourself searching for an exit to rescue yourself from the slightly organized chaos.
  4. The queue for the Mona Lisa can take upwards of two hours to reach the front of the line. However, if you stand outside of the roped queue, over to the side, you can see her and snap great pictures. This tip really worked!
I had Always Imagined this Painting to be Much Bigger than She Actually Is. This Picture Snapped from Outside the Queque Robes and from the Side.

I had Always Imagined this Painting to be Much Bigger than She Actually Is. This Picture Snapped from Outside the Queque Robes and from the Side.

The Queque to See the Mona Lisa

The Queque to See the Mona Lisa

Hack and Guide to Seeing the Louvre (Your Sanity's Insurance)

I was troubled by the information I had been given. I'm not a "crowd person," and with this description of their visit, I knew immediately that a plan was needed. I wanted to enjoy the Louvre and leave with pleasant memories. How could I accomplish this?

Google to the Rescue

Before leaving the hotel, I came up with the idea to research the ten most important paintings/sculptures/works of art to view, the ones I would regret not seeing. I made a list of those works and researched where in the Louvre they were located. I had already received an interior map of the Louvre with my self-guided tour package and literally plotted my path.

During this well-spent time of research, I was able to read about each important piece which gave me interesting background information. This was especially helpful from a couple of different points of view; I didn't have to wade through crowds of people to read the plaques at each exhibit, and I could spend my time viewing instead of reading.

Scroll to Continue

Read More from WanderWisdom

My List

  • The Mona Lisa in the Denon Wing, located on the first-floor room, 711
  • La Venus de Milo in the Sully Wing, located on -0 floor, room 345
  • Winged Victory in the Denon Wing, located on the first floor, by the staircase
  • Wedding of Cana in the Denon Wing, located on the first floor, room 711
  • The Coronation of Napoleon in the Denon Wing, located on the first floor, room 75
  • The Raft of Medusa in the Denon Wing, located in Hall 77
  • Liberty Leading the People in the Denon Wing, located on the first floor, room 77
  • Great Sphinx of Tanis in the Sully Wing, located on floor zero, room 338
  • Winged Bulls of Khorsabad in the Richlieu Wing, located on the ground floor, room 4

(The list and locations are current as of this writing—pieces are sometimes on loan to other museums or are removed temporarily for maintenance.)

The all-important floor map of the Louvre.

The all-important floor map of the Louvre.

The Louvre's campus is set up like a "C" with the famous glass Louvre Pyramid in the middle. You enter through the pyramid and descend into what seems like a basement but is actually the ground floor. Personally, I found this set-up to be very helpful in navigation as I wandered the floors of this amazing museum. As you can see from the map above, access to each wing is available from the entry-level.

Pro Travel Tip

As you walk through the Louvre, Make sure to look "up." The ceilings are works of art themselves. It would be a shame to overlook these masterpieces.

One of the beautiful ceilings in the Louvre.

One of the beautiful ceilings in the Louvre.

Some of the ceilings are masterpieces!

Some of the ceilings are masterpieces!

A Few of my Highlights

Here are a few of the highlights from my time at the museum.

The Mona Lisa and The Wedding of Cana

Finally finding room 711, I was surprised by a couple of things...the length of the queue to the Mona Lisa, how small she is, and how massively huge The Wedding of Cana is! I mentioned it earlier, and I heard from others that she is "small," but she really is! How can such a masterpiece be so small? In comparison, The Wedding of Cana is on the opposite wall. It is floor-to-ceiling and the width of the wall. If you stand close to it, it's hard to make out the detail. The Mona Lisa is dwarfed in comparison, oh, but that smile!

The Wedding of Cana dwarfs the Mona Lisa. It takes up an entire wall, floor to ceiling!

The Wedding of Cana dwarfs the Mona Lisa. It takes up an entire wall, floor to ceiling!

Venus de Milo

I was anxious to see Venus de Milo. Did you know she stands only 6'8 tall, and she was sculpted between 150–125 BC? There is much controversy over who her sculptor is, who she actually depicts, and what happened to the missing limbs. Nonetheless, whatever her story is, she is magnificent! I found myself wondering about the sculptor, whoever they were. Had it even occurred to them that thousands of years later, their work would be so admired?

Imagine the beauty of the woman who was the subject of this piece of art!

Imagine the beauty of the woman who was the subject of this piece of art!

The Great Sphinx of Tanis

On to The Great Sphinx of Tanis, which is a granite sculpture of a sphinx. The date of its creation is unknown. But, evidence indicates it could possibly date back to the 26th century BC. This remarkable intact work of art was discovered in the ruins of the Temple of Amun-Ra in Tanis, Egypt, the capital throughout the 21st Dynasty and the 23rd Dynasty. How did they ever get that into the Louvre?

My Impressions

Not exactly remembering when I first learned about the Louvre, I can tell you that visiting has been a dream for what seems like forever. After my visit, we sat at a bistro a block or so away and enjoyed a bowl of French onion soup and a hearty glass of wine. Our meal was relatively quiet as I mentally re-walked my steps and re-envisioned the works of art I had the privilege of gazing upon.

I was looking for words to describe the adventure, and for the life of me, those words were nowhere to be found! Awe, blessed, and impressed came to mind but seemed inadequate. I am always amazed at the various and unique talents bestowed upon mankind, and the Louvre was an all-in-one example of that. As I finished my lunch, the feeling of being overjoyed hit me! I lived another dream and, at the same time, witnessed the history of the greatest pieces of art unfold in front of me!

Throughout my adventures, I have learned that travelers and those who dream of travel are kindred spirits. I was thankful for the couple who had shared their experience with me. As it turns out, had it not been for them, I would have been overwhelmed, and I'm betting that my experience would not have been so fantastic!

The sharing of information is absolutely invaluable and always enhances the experience and memories. I encourage all of you to share your experiences, not necessarily in the section provided in this article but in everyday life! Be a storyteller and inspire others!

Until next time friends, remember, "To Travel is to Live!"

© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin

Related Articles