Musée du Louvre: discover the artistic and tourist heart of the capital

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Published by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Photos by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Published on April 8th, 2024 at 10:53 a.m.
The Musée du Louvre, one of the capital's must-see museums, promotes French and European culture through its many masterpieces on display, as evidenced by the 8 million visitors a year who come to contemplate the smile of the Mona Lisa or the fervor of Liberty Guiding the People. A place steeped in history, where art has been flourishing for two centuries already, to discover if you're staying in Paris!

The Musée du Louvre, located on the right bank of the Seine, is one of Paris' greatest cultural institutions and a historic landmark of the City of Light. With several million visitors each year, the Musée du Louvre is one of the most visited cultural institutions in the city, and in the world. A veritable landmark of artistic and cultural history, its grandeur and diversity make it a must-see for tourists and art enthusiasts the world over. But before it was a museum, this gigantic palace of over 350,000m2 was a place to live, and more particularly the home of the kings of France.

A little history...

Originally a fortified castle built by King Philippe Auguste in 1190, it was in 1546 that François I decided to demolish the old fortress and turn it into a Renaissance residence, designed by Pierre Lescot. Work continued during the reigns of Henri II and Charles IX, untilHenri IV decided in 1594 to unite the Louvre with the Palais des Tuileries, built by Catherine de Médicis.

Construction and refurbishment came to an abrupt halt in 1678, when Louis XIV chose Versailles as the court's residence. It wasn't until 1793 that the Louvre became a museum, the Muséum Central des Arts de la République to be precise. Since then, it has housed an entire collection of works of art, from painting and sculpture to furniture and the decorative arts.

The Louvre and its masterpieces...

If you have the opportunity to visit the Louvre, note that the museum is divided into eight major departments: Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Oriental Antiquities, Islamic Arts, Paintings, Sculptures, Works of Art and Graphic Arts. Among its most famous works are Veronese's Wedding at Cana, the Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, the Seated Scribe, the Code of Hammurabi, Delacroix's Liberty Guiding the People and Géricault's Raft of the Medusa.

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But it is perhaps the department of Italian paintings that is the most popular - or at least the most visited - with tourists. Among its masterpieces, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa naturally holds a special place. This fascinating painting, shrouded in mystery and legend, is undoubtedly the museum's most famous and coveted work. With its enigmatic smile, it attracts thousands of visitors every day, eager to contemplate this Renaissance marvel.

By contrast, the Louvre Pyramid, an emblematic glass-clad monument, is more recent: built by Sino-American architect Leoh Ming Pei, it was inaugurated by President François Mitterrand in 1989 and echoes theConcorde obelisk, donated by Egypt to France in 1830.

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Visiting the Louvre: best practices!

If you want to visit the Louvre, plan ahead. The best time to avoid the crowds is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The museum is open every day except Tuesday, and admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. Don't forget to visit the official website for more details and to book your tickets online, to ensure the best possible experience.

Good to know: the museum is so vast that if a visitor wished to contemplate all the works on display and spent 30 seconds in front of each one, it would take 100 years to visit the entire museum. A little too long for a stay, but a very good excuse to come back and visit one of the capital's most beautiful museums. So, shall we buy a ticket?

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Practical information

Location

musée du louvre
75001 Paris 1

Accessibility info

Access
Metro Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre

Prices
Billet sur place: €15
réservation billet coupe-file (en ligne): €17

Official website
www.louvre.fr

More information
Open from 9am to 6pm, until 9:45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Closed on Tuesdays

Occupancy forecast
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