The Louvre is an art lover’s dream – 652,300 square feet of space filled with nearly 35,000 pieces of art from prehistory to the 21st century. You can never really say you’ve completely explored the Louvre, there is always more to see. It is the world’s most visited museum, receiving more than 9 million visitors in 2014. I had been twice before (it had been awhile) but I decided to go back again during my last trip to Paris because my boyfriend had never been and my appreciation for art has really increased since I have been living in NYC.
So I mentioned the museum is huge, let me also say it is very confusing and difficult to navigate. First of all, everything is in French, but the map really isn’t very good either. There are so many pieces of art and it’s just not feasible to list them all on the map. I did spend an extra few euros for an audio guide, but this really was a waste of money. It was larger than any other audio guide I have used and it was supposed to use GPS to help direct you around the museum. Well the GPS was always behind where we were, we ended up relying on the map instead. I hope they will make some improvements to the audio guide, as it has the potential to be really helpful.
We had a lot planned for our Paris trip so we only allocated three hours for the Louvre. I knew this would be challenging, so we made a list beforehand of the key pieces of art we wanted to make sure that we saw. This was critical! Even if you have more time, I think you really should make a list of the pieces you must see, otherwise, with the size of the museum, you will miss them. I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few of my favorite pieces, which you might like to add to your list:
- Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci – These days no visit to the Lourve is complete without taking a selfie with Mona Lisa (but don’t bring your selfie stick!). You will see signs guiding you to La Joconde, which is the French name of the painting, in room 6. Everyone always says that the painting is smaller than expected, so try to manage your expectations. Also, look at the painting from different parts of the room and notice how her eyes follow you. Then take a selfie!
- Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova – I love the story behind this sculpture. Psyche gave into to her curiosity but Cupid’s love is able to revive her. The artist does an amazing job of capturing the emotion and passion of the story. If you walk to the back side of the sculpture you will see the flask that Psyche couldn’t help but open.
- Napoleon Apartments – The Louvre was originally a palace before Louis XIV decided it was not big enough and built the palace at Versailles. It’s fascinating to see the section of the Louvre set up like Napoleon’s apartments. The chandeliers definitely stand out and demonstrate the opulence of the apartments. You will also see paintings of Napoleon and his wife Josephine. I also thought the formal dining room was really impressive!
- Winged Victory by Pythokritos of Lindos- This is a sculpture of the Greek goddess, Nike, who is the goddess of Victory, and was estimated to have been made around 200 BC. The statue was renovated in 2013 where some gaps in the marble were repaired. Additionally, the marble was cleaned and restored to its original color. Let me just say this statue is absolutely stunning, especially after the restoration. It doesn’t matter that pieces have broken off and never been found. I will also say that the museum does a great job showcasing the piece in the marble Daru stairway.
- Marly Horses by Guillaume Coustou the Elder – There are four very impressive horse sculptures in the Marly courtyard, and again I think the museum really did a great job showcases these pieces. The white room with the natural lighting is stunning. The artist really brought life to the sculptures and captured the moment. Wherever you stand in the room, the movement, strength, and violent struggle is evident, thanks to the details in the artwork.
Also, for those Da Vinci Code fans out there, you should look for the painting Madonna of the Rocks in the main gallery (we had a little trouble finding it) and try to find some of the Arago medallions (markers on the old Paris Meridian Line). We found the one that is in the passageway from the Louvre to the courtyard and two in the courtyard.
You should also spend some time outside the museum in the courtyard. I really like the pyramids. Although the pyramids are modern, I think they really compliment the architecture of the Louvre. If you are wanting a fun picture, you can stand on one of the blocks and make it look like your finger is on top of the pyramid.
Have you been to the Louvre? I would love to hear about your favorite pieces.
- Have a game plan of what you want to see before you visit the Louvre, it’s not possible to see everything.
- Save time by entering the museum through the shopping center (Carrousel du Louvre) by the pyramid inversee. The line outside is usually much longer.
- Get to the Louvre early and head straight toward the #1 piece of your list to see if before it gets too crowded.
- Don’t waste money on the audio guide, try a mobile app instead.