Culture, Sightseeing, Travel

A day at the Louvre in Paris (and unexpected details and sections to look out for)

The Louvre offers so many exhibits and works of art that it could take weeks to see every single item. However, not everyone can afford to spend months in Paris on a holiday, although I’m sure many of us would love that!

For someone planning a visit to the Louvre, it might be helpful to see some highlights and the different types of art on display so you know what to expect. Since the objects span prehistory to the 21st century, there’s no shortage of interesting information to learn and see.

Let’s begin our tour of the Louvre!

Paris Louvre interior courtyard

The Louvre building used to be the palace until Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles. It opened as a museum in 1793, and today it holds around 35,000 objects.

Paris in Boston Louvre

There are a few entrances to the museum, but the most famous entrance is through the glass pyramid. A similar but inverted pyramid, not surprisingly called The Inverted Pyramid, is a skylight located at the lobby between the entrance to the museum and the shopping mall.

Paris in Boston Louvre

If you didn’t purchase your museum tickets online beforehand, you might end up waiting in a long line. There are a few machines at the entrance where you can buy tickets.

Tip: I went on a Thursday morning in November, and there was no line at all. I just walked up to one of the ticket machines and bought a ticket. If you can, try to plan your trip when you know the museum won’t be so busy, such as during the weekday and non-holidays. Definitely don’t plan a trip (to any museum or tourist attraction, really) during school breaks!

Paris in Boston Louvre

Time to explore the museum!

Paris in Boston Louvre
Entrance to the Sully Wing

Paris Louvre sculpture in wall

Architecture

Before looking at the artwork more closely, I’m going to highlight some of the vastly different sections of the museum. You can walk into a room with a gilded ceiling that includes an ornate painting…

Paris in Boston Louvre

and later on you will see a monochromatic room with curved ceilings and arches. This room felt very calm and perhaps encouraged some reflection, probably because it reminded me of being inside a church or cathedral.

Paris in Boston Louvre

A similarly hued room can be seen as you wander around, but it’s completely different than the last room. The ceilings and tops of the columns are much more intricate, and it’s not as spacious.

Paris in Boston Louvre

In another section, you’ll find a richly appointed room with heavy brocade curtains, a huge and elaborate chandelier, and more gilded ceilings decorated with oil paintings.

Paris in Boston Louvre

Walking on, you’ll find another completely different space. This one is more  vast and sparse, but no less imposing and impressive.

Paris in Boston Louvre

Can you believe these all belong to the same museum??

Art

Now let’s get to the paintings and sculptures! Objects are organized into 8 departments:

  1. Egyptian antiquities
  2. Near Eastern antiquities
  3. Greek, Etruscan, and Roman
  4.  Islamic art
  5. Sculpture
  6. Decorative arts
  7. Painting
  8. Prints and drawings

If you want a closer look at the floor plans before arriving at the Louvre museum, their website has an excellent interactive map of its floor plans.

Even if you’re here for just a day, you can customize your tour of the museum in many different ways. I opted to start with the Egyptian antiquities and then wander around.

Paris in Boston Louvre

Paris in Boston Louvre

Paris Louvre Egyptian antiquities

Paris Louvre Egyptian antiquities

Paris in Boston Louvre

Sculptures abound at the Louvre:

Paris Louvre sculpture similar to statue of liberty
This sculpture looked a lot like the Statue of Liberty
Paris Louvre sculpture regal
Another regal sculpture

Paris Louvre sculpture regal

Paris Louvre Venus de Milo sculpture
Venus de Milo

Paris Louvre regal sculpture

Paris Louvre arch

Now we arrive at the paintings:

Paris Louvre Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

I’ve always liked the paintings that showed many other intricate paintings – how painstakingly difficult this must have been!

Paris Louvre oil painting Giovanni Paolo Pannini
Amazingly detailed work by Giovanni Paolo Pannini
Large paintings, but so delicate and lovely due to the pastel palette
Large paintings, but so delicate and lovely due to the pastel palette

Paris Louvre beautiful painted panels description

Paris Louvre Monet painting
My favorite artist, Monet!

Paris Louvre Monet painting

Decorative Arts

One section I didn’t expect to see in the museum was the Napoleon III apartments (I obviously didn’t do my research before visiting the Louvre!). Can you imagine living here? I could get used to living in such splendor!

Paris Louvre Napoleon III apartments

Paris in Boston Louvre

Paris Louvre Napoleon III apartments

Paris Louvre gilded room Napoleon III apartments

Taking a break from walking

Another unexpected section in the museum was this atrium. During the day, it provided so much light and helped to create a calm respite from all the artworks and tourists. There are lots of benches (I think they were marble?) for people to sit on to take a break, draw (as I saw some people doing), or just take in the scenery and people watch.

Paris Louvre sculpture atrium

Since there are many sculptures here, not to mention the beautiful architecture, just because you’re taking a break from walking doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying the works of art that surround you.

Paris in Boston Louvre

Paris in Boston Louvre
It is so serene here

Food

After all this walking, some food and a beverage sure sound good. You’ll have to walk out of the main part of the museum, pass the Inverted Pyramid, and head to the Carrousel du Louvre, which is the shopping mall and food hall. The food hall has lots of options from all over the world.

Tip: Make sure you check the times either online or when you arrive at the museum, because the last time I was there, I was really hungry and they were just closing to prepare for dinner. There are other restaurants and cafes just outside the Louvre on the Rue de Rivoli, but I think they’re very limited, uninspired, and expensive. If you want variety, especially if you’re with a group, then eating in the food hall is not only more convenient, but also the best option.

After you’re done eating and the museum is still open, why not head back in to see anything you might have missed!

I hope you enjoyed your day exploring the Louvre! If you’ve visited the Louvre in person, what was your favorite painting/sculpture/room/section? Thanks for reading!

Merci!