As one of the largest museums in the world, the Louvre Museum stores around 35 thousand objects and it welcomes 10 million visitors each year. It used to be the castle of the French kings and even once be the prison. Now it houses a great number of artworks are from all over the world and its collection includes paintings, statues, and many others from Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Near Eastern, and Islamic cultures.
It is my fifth time to visit the Louvre but I never get bored with it. The Louvre is so immense that I cannot appreciate all the master pieces in just one time. To have an efficient tour, let's follow my steps to see how we can save our time to get the best of it.
For transportation, take the metro line 1 to Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station. You can follow a small board with a Louvre icon and then find the direction. Or you can get out at the exit 5. We recommend you to leave the station here because there is a very brilliant artwork "Le Kiosque des noctambules (2000)" by a French artist, Jean-Michel Othoniel. It awakens your aesthetic sense from the beginning.
Go out the station and go straight to the crossway. You can see the Louvre at your left hand side from a block away.
Enter the dark passage from the side of the Louvre. If you have your online ticket, here is your entrance to the museum. If not, go through it. The giant main buildings and the notorious pyramid are there. Take some nice photos, like finger pointing at the pyramid or group jumping in front of the monuments.
If you see a long line waiting for entrance, do not go for it. A small arch (Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel) hides a secret entrance. Even if you need to wait in line from this entrance, at least you do not need to suffer from the hot or cold weather in different seasons.
In the basement, you can see an upside down pyramid. It is another perfect shooting spot. Besides, the Louvre provides free cloakroom to set aside your heavy coats and bags. To secure your safety, it is required to check every baggage.
We can rent an audio guide which is a Nintendo 3DS. To our surprise, we can appreciate the arts with vocal explanations from masters and with photos. The rent for each set is 5€ and 3€ for people under 26.
After explaining so much, we are going to start. In the Louvre, there are three wings - Richelieu, Sully and Denon. It is suggested to enter from Richelieu and go to the second floor (the 3rd for USA).
Our first stop (room 10) is at the Gabrielle d'Estrées and Her Sister. This can be shocking for Asian tourists to see the misteress of King Henri IV, Gabrielle d'entrées, whose nipple is pinched by her sister.
Next go to the central wing of Sully. In room A, there are paintings of Eugène Delacroix and Jean-François Millet. Although the paintings of Millet are not the most famous ones, you can find some pastoral scenes similar to the Gleaners (Des glaneuses) and The Angelus (L'Angelus), which are currently displayed in the Musée d'Orsay.
Continue to the room 61. You can find the Valpinçon Bather (La Grande Baigneuse) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
The next room (6o), normally you can find the Turkish Bath (Le Bain Turc) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Currently it exhibits in another museum. However, we can see Picasso's masterpiece. Guess what he painted! It is one of his nude woman painting series - Reclining Nude (Nu couché).
At the end of this aisle, we go down to the first floor (2nd floor for USA). Do not be too excited. This floor are there some must-see. Go straight to the room 66. It is the Galerie d'Apollon. Its high vaulted ceilings plus splendid decorations are so eye-catching. The walls hang the portraits of some French kings and great architects.
Go to the next space. You can find a huge hall only for a statue - the Winged Victory of Samothrace (La Victoire de Samothrace). Her drapery seems to vividly flow by the wind as you closely look at it.
After this, do not go down to the ground floor. Or you will miss Mona Lisa (La Joconde). Remember to come back to the first floor. Mona Lisa is in Room 6.
Mona Lisa is not as big as you expected. The painting is small and surrounded by visitors. You cannot get closer to see her smile. I heard that the painting is famous because it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci but it is not the best one. However, it was stolen before and retrieved back. This history makes it well-known all over the world.
In the Denon wing of the first floor, there are plenty of famous paintings. You can spend more time to go around this area.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo is renown for using tree roots, fruits, vegetables to depict portraits.
Eugène Delacroix's famous painting - Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple)
Théodore Géricault's the Raft of the Medusa (Le Radeau de la Méduse)The Coronation of Napoleon (Le Sacre de Napoléon) is a giant painting. There is another copy by the same painter, Jacques-Louis David. It is exhibited in the Palace of Versailles. There is a difference. Napoleon's sister in the painting (second girl from the left) in the Palace of Versailles wore in pink and the other wear in white. It is said that the painter liked his sister and the color stands for rose (love).Now let's go to the ground floor. In room 16, there is another must-see. It is a statue of Aphrodite, also called Vénus de Milo. Her attractive figure was carved in accordance with golden ratio.
Athena of Velletri
In the Sully wing of the ground floor, there are many Egyptian objects, like mummies. To some people, these may be too real to be scared. If you want to see more Egyptian objects, the British Museum seems to keep even mummies.
It is the end of this tour. Let me summarize what the must-see artworks in the Louvre Museum. If you do not have much time, you can follow our itinerary and do not miss three of them.
(1) Mona Lisa (La Joconde)
(2) The Winged Victory of Samothrace (La Victoire de Samothrace)
(3) Aphrodite, also called Vénus de Milo
Of course, there are still so many terrific antiques worthwhile to see. You can discover your favorites too!
Last, we have some tips for you.
(1) You can buy tickets online to avoid waiting in line for the ticket.
(2) The peak time is between 11:00-16:00. Come earlier or later to avoid it.
(3) After your visit at the Louvre, you can shop in the Carrousel du Louvre. They have plenty of merchandises, like luxury, art, book and food.
(4) Behind the pyramid, there is a passage to the Cour Carrée. It is a nice lieu to relax and you can go out from the right passage. You will go directly to the Pont des Arts, which used to hang many love locks. And go through the bridge to the Rue Mazarine. There are many nice boutiques and galleries.
(5) You can go back to the metro station (Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre). At the exit 5 on the right, there is the Palais Royal after going through the passage. An installation, called Les Colonnes de Buren, is located in the inner courtyard. Here is not famous for tourists but perfect to have some beautiful photos.
Ticket: €15 for adults, free for under 18 and EEA residents aged 18-25
Museum Pass: 2-day pass: €42, 4-day pass: €56, 6-day pass: €69
Address: Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France
Transportation: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (Metro Lines 1 and 7)
Open Hours: 09:00-18:00 every day except for Tuesday
*Extended hours until 21:45 on Wednesday and Friday