The Louvre in Paris is regarded as one of the finest and most famous art galleries in the world. There are classic and modern masterpieces, stretching from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century, you’ll definitely need to come back again to fully appreciate it all. Holidays to Paris must include a visit to this impressive gallery and museum, which is a stunning example of French culture and a spectacular showcase of European art history. All of this makes it one of the most visited art galleries in the world.
A former Royal palace
This former royal palace enjoys a central location in Paris and is easily accessible via bus, batobus and metro. Parking is also available if you are driving. However you travel, remember to wear comfortable shoes as there are a lot of exquisite works of art to be seen. Concentrate on your must-see areas, or simply return again to pick up where you left off last time. The building itself is an impressive structure, with the iconic pyramid right in the centre, with the ticket office just below. Louvre tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the door on the day, but be prepared for queues unless you purchase fast-track entry.
Home to the Mona Lisa
During the French Revolution, the first Louvre opened with just 537 paintings forming its art collection. During the rule of Napoleon, The Louvre Museum became Musee Napoleon and the collection developed. After his reign, some work was restored and returned to the original owners.
The Jewel in The Louvre’s crown is the Mona Lisa, which was stolen in 1911, and since its return in 1913, has been framed in bulletproof glass. It is currently protected by guards around the clock, so don’t expect to get too close to the surprisingly small painting of the woman with that enigmatic smile.
Other great works
Open every day except Tuesdays, The Louvre is home to some of the world’s most famous art. This includes the ancient Greek “Venus de Milo” statue, which forms part of eight main collections. Highlights of the other collections include Islamic art, Near Eastern antiquities, and sculptures.
To make the most of your visit, take a guided tour, there are plenty to choose from. The popular Masterpieces tour, which takes you to see unmissable works of art such as “The Wedding at Cana” by Paolo Veronese and stunning architecture at the Apollo Gallery. If you don’t take a tour, plan your route through The Louvre before you arrive.
The whole family will enjoy exploring the Tactile Gallery, visitors are encouraged to touch the artwork to uncover replica casts around the theme of the body. Children will adore the playgrounds and sailing boats outside at the beautiful landscaped Tuileries Gardens, in addition to the trampolines and the traditional carousel close to the Esplanades des Feuillants.
The Egyptian Antiquities area is home to a feast of artefacts spanning from Ancient Egypt to the Byzantine period. Witness the Large Sphinx, jewellery, mummies, clothing and papyrus, in addition to Middle Kingdom statues of Nephthys, Hathor and Amenemhatankh. As well as seeing these artistic treasures, visitors also gain an inspiring insight into a rich and fascinating history.
There is also a fine collection of sculptures both Romanesque and Medieval, featuring “The Virgin of Auvergne” and “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”. The Richelieu Wing houses the French Collection, while the Denon Wing is home to the rest of the world’s majestic works.
The Greek, Etruscan and Roman Department covers the Neolithic New Stone Age to the 6th century AD, when the Roman Empire declined. Francis I curated this original department, one of the oldest in the museum, in the 16th century, when he obtained iconic marble statues. You can also view exquisite Greek pottery and artefacts from the Hellenistic period, as well as the Durand Collection featuring the Bronze Borghese Vase.
If decorative arts are more your style, then be sure not to miss this department adorned with stained glass, ceramics, bronzes and vases, in addition to Medieval and Renaissance artwork including jewellery and tapestries. The Decorative Arts department was once part of the royal property and covers treasures from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Visitors can also enjoy special events and exhibitions including museum labs and an interactive approach with multimedia resources. You can extend your Louvre experience with a visit to the Auditorium, where a wide variety of programmes take place: from archaeology and art history lectures to films, readings and concerts.
Holidays to Paris must include a visit to The Louvre. Choose from a guided tour, an audio guide, visitor trails or follow an educational itinerary to see the main highlights. Or you can make your own way, choosing your favourites and must-sees. There are also cafés and restaurants, alongside shopping and bookstores so that you can definitely make a day of it.