Louvre Museum

The most visited art gallery in the world

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99 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France

GPS: 48.861880213404, 2.3379204339984

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Built from 1190 onwards under the aegis of King Philip II, known as Philip Augustus, the Louvre was originally a medieval fortress whose primary purpose was to protect Paris. This fortified enclosure was later demolished in the 14th century under the reign of Charles V to become one of the main residences of the kings of France until Louis XIV. Even then, the Louvre’s reputation went beyond national borders as it became the largest palace in the world. In the 16th century, Henry IV had the original buildings connected to the Tuileries Palace (of which only the pavilions and gardens remain today) via the Grande Galerie, a two-storey building almost 500 metres long. Work on the building continued, but in 1682 the Sun King (Louis XIV) left the royal residence of the Louvre to move his court to the Palace of Versailles.

Converted into a museum in 1793 after the French Revolution, the Louvre Palace first exhibited paintings by European masters from the royal collections. Over the years, it was expanded on the right bank of the Seine to display new works of art resulting from the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, including ancient collections (Oriental, Roman, Greek, etc.). From 1848, Napoleon III renovated the monument and improved the museography of the interior spaces. It was not until 1981 that the Louvre took on its current contemporary configuration as part of the Grand Louvre project launched by French President François Mitterrand. The site, dedicated to art and culture, underwent major modernisation and expansion work with the integration of the Richelieu Wing. The glass and steel Pyramid, designed by the American architect of Chinese origin Ieoh Ming Pei, was built in 1989 in the middle of the Napoleon Courtyard. Initially criticized for being too futuristic, this daring construction fits perfectly into the architectural unity of the site. It has even become the symbol of the Louvre, a museum at the cutting edge of modernity.

A total of 40,000 works of art are on permanent display at the Louvre in 72,000 square metres of exhibition space (the museum’s storerooms contain over 500,000 additional pieces). They cover more than 7,000 years of the history of the world’s civilizations. Among the Louvre’s must-see works are the famous Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, as well as the illustrious Egyptian art and the section dedicated to the arts of Islam, which opened in 2012. Every year, this universal place attracts its 10 million visitors from all over the world to view the most beautiful discoveries or artistic achievements of man in a sumptuous setting.

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  • The eight thematic departments richly endowed with works of art (paintings, sculptures, graphics, decorative and contemporary art objects, Egyptian antiquities, Islamic art, Oriental antiquities, art of the civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities)
  • The profusion of art objects and archaeological pieces on public display: the paintings in the Grand Gallery (the largest room in the museum), the Greek sculptures (including the Venus de Milo), the Sarcophagus room (Sully Wing), the Galerie d’Apollon in the Denon Wing (similar to the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles), the Assyrian jewels (Richelieu Wing), the Islamic arts (Visconti Courtyard), the decorative elements of the Napoleon III’s apartments (Richelieu Wing)
  • The quality of the permanent and temporary exhibitions; the museography and the decorative elements; the cultural and artistic programme; the exceptional galleries and decor; the workshops and visit programs for children
  • The Napoleon Courtyard, the Tuileries Garden, the Clock Pavilion, the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall, and the Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois in Paris (opposite the Louvre)
  • The 21-metre-high glass pyramid, the piston lift, and the inverted pyramid in the Carrousel of the museum, contributing to the successful metamorphosis of the Louvre Museum
  • The mixture of architectural styles; the Corinthian columns and ornamental motifs decorating the façades of the palace grounds
  • The museum is open every day except Tuesday; free admission on the first Saturday of each month between 6 pm and 9:45 pm; night tours on Wednesdays and Fridays until 10 pm
  • The Paris Passlib’ or Paris Museum Pass giving access to more than 60 Parisian museums and monuments (including the Louvre)
  • The view of the Parisian monuments from the windows of the Louvre
  • Napoleon I and Marie-Louise of Austria were married in the Salon Carré of the Louvre Palace and the Grande Galerie in 1810.
  • The Tuileries Palace, built in the second half of the 16th century at the request of Catherine de’ Medici, was destroyed by an act of arson in 1871. It was demolished a few years later. The Louvre buildings narrowly escaped the same fate.
  • In 1911, the Mona Lisa painting disappeared from the Salon Carré of the Louvre where it was on public display. The museum was searched from top to bottom by the police, but only the frame and glass of the Mona Lisa were found on the back staircase. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire and the painter Pablo Picasso were at first people who came under suspicion but were soon cleared. Two years later, the thief tried to sell the Mona Lisa to an antique dealer in Florence who reported him to the Italian police. The thief was an Italian house painter, Vincenzo Peruggia, who worked as a glazier at the Louvre. He managed to hide the portrait for two years in a room in a Parisian flat in the Hôpital-Saint-Louis district. Tried in Italy, Peruggia claimed that he was acting out of patriotism in bringing the painting back to his home country and was sentenced to only one year in prison. In the end, his sentence was further reduced to seven months. As for the famous painting, the Italian authorities took the opportunity to exhibit it in Florence, Milan, and Rome before it was finally returned to the Louvre Museum at the beginning of 1914. This theft is one of the most famous of the 20th century and greatly contributed to the fame of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting throughout the world.
  • According to a study, most visitors go to the Louvre to admire the Mona Lisa. The obsession with this painting is such that it causes endless queues and leads the management to consider dedicating a separate space to it with limited access. Between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, the Louvre Museum hosted an exceptional exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces. This event coincided with the 500th anniversary of the death of the Italian Renaissance artist.
  • Before being chosen to renovate the Louvre, the Chinese-American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei, had already worked on other museums around the world and created contemporary extensions to monuments with classical architecture. As soon as the pyramid project was unveiled, the French press and public opinion were so critical that a petition was launched to prevent the Louvre’s historic facades from being distorted. However, the pyramid was an immediate success from the first day it opened. From a technical point of view, the project was a real architectural feat as it was the first major construction in the world to use laminated glass.
  • During the construction phase of the Glass Pyramid, several thousand historical objects were found by the teams in charge of the work. Remains of ditches, walls, and ramparts from the 14th century enclosure of Charles V were discovered in the Louvre’s shopping mall. These ancient fortifications can be seen in the underground spaces of the Carrousel du Louvre.
  • The Louvre’s transparent pyramid, under which the museum’s reception hall is located, has 673 diamond-shaped glass and aluminium tiles. Its construction was largely inspired by the Great Pyramid of Giza in its proportions (identical side angles of 51 degrees). According to Françoise Mardrus, head of the Dominique-Vivant Denon Centre at the Louvre, these new spaces were built at the time to increase the museum’s capacity and allow for better management of visitor flows. Forecasts predicted a total of 5 to 6 million visitors, but this figure quickly reached the 10 million mark, and other improvements were necessary to make the spaces more fluid (ticketing, cloakrooms, etc.).
  • In its recent history, the Louvre has launched a dozen appeals for donations from the public and patrons to help it acquire new works of art or renovate pieces of its collection.
  • The Louvre Museum is well served by public transport. You can reach it by metro (Tuileries station line 1 or Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre station lines 1 and 7), by bus (lines 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 67, 68, 69, 72, 74, 76, 81, 95) and by Balabus (tourist bus service that operates between April and September).
  • Queues to buy a ticket to the Louvre can quickly become long and discourage many people (the museum can be visited by 30,000 to 50,000 people a day). To save time, be sure to buy your ticket online and indicate the day and time of your visit. Recently, the Louvre reserved the right to refuse access on busy days to people who do not have a ticket purchased in advance.
  • Given the abundance of works on display, plan your visit in advance (interior flash photography is not allowed).
  • Virtual tours of the Louvre collections are available free of charge on the museum’s website.
  • The museum has created a French website dedicated to the Little (Petit) Louvre on which free, entertaining videos are available for children. Picture stories present different subjects or works of art such as the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt, the Regent, and the Lady of Auxerre.
  • If you have time to spare, continue your visit to the Carrousel and Tuileries Gardens, the Musée national Eugène Delacroix, and the Sculptures and Mouldings Gallery in the Palace of Versailles which present other collections linked to the prestigious Louvre Museum.

Where to eat

  • Bistrot Richelieu
    (typically Parisian)
  • Paroles de Fromagers
    (farm and cheese school)
  • Sur Mesure
    (high quality cuisine)

Where to go

  • Palais-Royal
    (major historical site)
  • Pont des Arts
    (famous romantic venue)
  • Musée d'Orsay
    (wonderful exhibitions)

Where to stay

  • Le Relais des Halles
    (feel at home)
  • Hotel 34B - Astotel
    (charming and welcoming)
  • Hotel La Tamise
    (impeccable service)