Visiting the Louvre museum for the first time is a very momentous occasion. Whether you are eighteen or eighty-five, knowing that you are about to view some of the most famous artwork and artifacts in the world is nothing short of exhilarating. From the moment you emerge under the enormous glass pyramid entrance and begin your tour through the ornate palace rooms, the magic of the Louvre comes alive.
With such a beautiful start, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces available for you to see and the size of the museum. With over 640,000 square feet of museum space and over 35,000 works of art, it is nearly impossible to soak it all in during your first visit.
With that in mind here are a few suggestions on how to see the Louvre. Each one depends on how much time you have allotted to this great museum. Personally, I recommend spending about three days there. Begin your adventure by pretending you’re an art student living in Paris. Plan on eating your lunch in the cafeteria, bring a notebook to jot down your thoughts and feelings and a camera to help you remember the obscure pieces and famous works of art that you loved most. Unfortunately, the long and relaxing option doesn’t work for everyone. Perhaps your on a tight schedule or your traveling partner is not the art-lover that you are. In that case, here are a couple of adventurous ways to see the Louvre, or at least be able to say you’ve been there
Plan #1 : In-and-Out Louvre
Similar to the concept of In-and-Out Burger, this is great works of art done fast food style. You don’t see much, but at least you can say you’ve been there! On the 30-Minute In-and-Out plan you must limit yourself to the most notable artifacts and you must keep moving. Your goal is to be able to say Oh, yes, I’ve seen the Mona Lisa. It doesn’t mean you spent a day considering her smile, it simply means you saw her. Begin your 30 Minute plan with a map and a good pair of walking shoes. You’ll see the Winged Victory of Samothrace (you can’t miss it, it’s at the entrance). Then head straight for the large format French paintings to see David’s Coronation and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, take a turn to enter the room with the Mona Lisa and give yourself a few moments to scan the area for a little browsing before you follow the map downstairs to the ancient sculptures. Find the Venus de Milo and ponder how pretty she is even without arms. If you have any time left over, take a quick look at the other sculptures. Voila! You’ve now done the Louvre in 30 minutes and you have a couple of things you can say you saw.
Plan #2: Just Enough Time to Get Yourself in Trouble
This is the plan where you have given yourself a couple of hours or at most, an afternoon, and you seemingly forget you’re on a schedule at all. You spend about eighty percent of your time pretending you’re an art student and the last twenty percent looking like a crazed tourist. This happens, of course, because you did not plan your time wisely. After leisurely viewing hundreds of paintings that you didn’t know existed you suddenly realize there were several must-sees on your list and you’ve run out of time to see them. At this point you kick up the pace and before you know it you find yourself in a dead run through the ancient near-eastern artifacts in pursuit of the Code of Hammurabi and you’re dodging security personal in every room. This is not a recommended way to see any museum! So, the trick to not landing yourself in this disaster is to plan your time wisely. If you can, make a list before you arrive of what you want to see and browse the Louvre’s website for details on where each piece is located. Get a good map and stick to it. You might want to consider visiting items farthest from the entrance first and then working your way back. This way you can be sure to see everything on your list and not break a sweat.
The Louvre is one of the best museums in the world, and given it’s location it is one of the most accessible. Plan accordingly and you won’t be disappointed.