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If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about visiting the Louvre. Congrats! Now you’re probably overwhelmed by the vast size of the Louvre. And wondering if it’s possible to even visit it all in one day. The answer is yes if you’re strategic about it and plan ahead! If you’re wondering what to see in the louvre in one day, I will be sharing with you my full strategy. As well as paintings to see as well tips for visiting the Louvre when you’re low on time.
Note: Gone are the days where you could just walk up and get tickets directly at the Louvre museum. Now to face the crowd, the museum is increasingly requiring that you book a slot for your tickets in advance.
If there’s one thing you should pre-book throughout your entire Paris trip it’s Louvre tickets.
With your tickets in hand, below I will show you the fastest entrance to access the Louvre museum without waiting ages in long queues.
Best Time to Visit the Louvre
Avoid visiting the Louvre on weekends to avoid the crowds. Wednesdays and Fridays (with the exception of the first Friday of the month) are the best time to visit the Louvre. That is because on these days the Louvre extends its opening time to 9:45 pm. This means less crowds and you can take your time to visit at your own pace
Things to Know about the Louvre:
- The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays
- The Louvre is divided into three wings: the Richelieu Wing, the Sully Wing, and the Denon Wing. Each wing houses different collections, so it’s helpful to have a rough idea of what you want to see.
The Best Secret Louvre Entrance with the Least Queuing Time
Most people don’t know this but there’s more than one entrance to the Louvre museum. There’s a more hidden entrance which you can use to get to the museum without the massive queue (actually 3, and I will share with you my personal favorite).
The baddie in question I’m talking about you should avoid at all costs is the main entrance outside next to the pyramids. Sometimes I pass by here and just cringe when I see tourists with their 2hr 30 min queue waiting time.
FYI: this line goes all the way around, and this isn’t even considered bad. Sometimes it goes all around the Louvre. Just please avoid this entrance at all costs and pre-book your Louvre tickets
The entrance to the Louvre museum you want is through the Carrousel du Louvre small shopping center. This is a small shopping center that will give you direct access to the museum. The queue is so much less there.
There are 3 Ways to Enter the Louvre Museum via the Carrousel du Louvre center:
1. If you’re coming in from the metro Louvre-Rivoli, take the metro exit to the Carrousel du Louvre.
2. The second way to access is through rue de Rivoli. This is the main entrance. Take the escalator down to enter the center.
3. My personal favorite: when you reach the end of the Tuileries gardens (pyramid side not Concorde side). Before the car street leading you to the Louvre pyramid outside, (and around the arch) there are unmarked stairs you can take down that will take you to the shopping center. Once there you will find the entrance to the museum directly next to the upside down pyramid.
Getting Inside the Louvre Museum:
At the entrance show them your printed ticket or digital ticket on your phone. After the security check you will pass by the gift shops (and oh my these are amazing- more about the Louvre gift shop here). Then you will find yourself at the Louvre. Yay!
There’s a cloakroom/ locker-room where you can dispose of your things in lockers. Use this to your advantage to get as comfortable as possible.
Note: in winter I found myself keeping my coat and not putting it in a locker (yes I’m a cold-blooded reptile), however in the summer I can see myself using this.
Next grab a welcome museum map at the reception. They have them in a bunch of languages and they’re extremely useful in getting around.
Make sure to keep your tickets because you will need them to scan and access different wings inside the Louvre museum.
How to Visit the Louvre: My Strategy
There are a ton of ways to visit the Louvre, based on what you like, how long you have and a ton more requirements. Having grown up in Paris this is how I do it.
My strategy is to start with the Mona Lisa because let’s face it, visiting Paris without seeing Mona is a big downer.
I find it best to start with getting to the Mona Lisa. Ngl you came all this way to see her. Why build the suspense. Might as well do it (or get it out of the way) before it gets more crowded (unless you are at peak crowd time).
Full Strategy to Visit the Louvre Museum: Visit the Mona Lisa on Floor 1 (Denon wing) then complete the rest of the paintings on this floor. Most of the big art is here so this is a great place to start. Then climb up to floor 2. Finally descend to the ground floor and end with the-1 floor.
Here is a full breakdown below of the best paintings to see following this strategy and sequence. I have included the floor and also which rooms you can find these popular paintings & sculptures at the Louvre.
Note: I’ve also included some of my favorites- not necessarily “famous” (what does that even mean). Ughh I prefer a more authentic and organic experience of finding paintings to fall in love with vs chasing the famous big ones. But I guess the famous ones are still important so here are my recs below.
What to See in the Louvre in One Day:
22 Must- See Famous Paintings in the Louvre (and Sculptures):
#1 Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC)
First off head to the Denon wing on the 1st floor. On your way to find the Mona Lisa, you will climb up these majestic stairs. At the very top, a beautiful sculpture from ancient Greece, awaits, portraying a triumphant Nike (not the sports brand).
Location: Denon, 1st Floor: Room: 703
#2 The Coronation of Napoleon (1805-1807) by Jacques-Louis David
David’s famous painting immortalizes the grandeur of Napoleon’s coronation, like a snapshot of history. After watching the latest Napoleon movie with Joaquim Phoenix (which I had mixed reviews about) this was a fun to relate to the scene in the movie.
Location: Denon, 1st Floor: Room 702
#3 The Young Martyr (1855) by Hippolyte Delaroche
Delaroche’s The Young Martyr, presents a powerful story through art.
Location: Denon, 1st Floor, Room: 701
#4 Mona Lisa (1503-1506) by Leonardo da Vinci
You can’t come to the Louvre without visiting this bad gal. I suppose it’s like visiting Egypt and not seeing the pyramids or Avignon without seeing the Pont D’Avignon. No matter how overrated you think she may be with her diva way, it’s impossible not see Mona.
Head’s up: A lot of people can find the whole experience a little well.. underwhelming. Given the crowd and the fact that she’s all sealed up in a glass case. Just wanted to give you a head’s up. Keep your head on your shoulders and your expectations real. I promise you there’s better than Mona.
When we went there we were lucky enough to have someone ask us if we wanted a photo. It was another tourist visiting and we were thankful for the deed of the day. Ok move over Mona, you’re ticked off the list- now the real fun begins.
Location: Denon, 1st Floor: 711
#5 Saint Jerome in His Study by Niccolò Colantonio (1444-1450)
One of the most important artists of Naples, painted this piece depicting Saint Jerome in his study removing a thorn from a lion’s paw which was tormenting the animal.
Location: Denon, 1st Floor, Room: 710
#6 Portrait of a Woman in the Court of Milan (1495-1499) by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Woman in the Court of Milan, is a masterpiece that reveals the grace and enigmatic charm of the sitter. I lowkey prefer this over Mona. What if she could’ve been Mona?
Location: Denon, 1st Floor: Room 710
#7 Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix
Delacroix’s iconic painting, portrays Liberty as she leads the way, symbolizing the spirit of revolution. I remember my teacher this up in our history class. 😉 Unfortunately, it was temporarily unavailable when I went to visit.
Location: Delacroix, 1st Floor: 700
#8 The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819) by Theodore Gericault
Gericault’s incredible masterpiece tells the story of a traumatic maritime disaster showing desperation and chaos.
Location: Room 700, 1st Floor
#9 Pandemonium (1841) by John Martin
This one definitely stopped me in my tracks. The artist drew inspiration from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” (1667). Also note how gorgeous the frame is. John Martin designed it himself. I just love admiring frames. I sometimes am more amazed by frames than boring paintings. Luckily not in this case.
Location: Denon, 1st Floor: Room 713
#10 Seated Scribe (2600-2350 BC)
The Seated Scribe, dating back to 2600-2350 BC, is a famous ancient Egyptian sculpture which captures the essence of wisdom and introspection.
Location: Sully, 1st Floor: Room: 635
#11 The Lacemaker (1669-1670) by Johannes Vermeer
Vermeer’s beautiful painting, created between 1669-1670, captures a quiet moment of home life in meticulous detail.
Location: Dutch Paintings, 2nd Floor: Room 837
#12 The Cheat (1635) by Georges de La Tour
This painting by Georges de La Tour, captures a tense moment in a card game- revealing the complexities of human nature. I remember taking a photoshop class in high school and this was the picture I chose to animate.
Location: Sully, 2nd Floor: Room 912
Louvre Ground Floor (Floor 0):
#13 Venus de Milo (100 BC)
This timeless beauty, the Venus de Milo, shows grace in an ancient Greek sculpture.
Note: this was the one at the Louvre gift store. Let’s see if you can find the real one!
Location: Sully, Ground Floor: Room 345
#14 The Palace of Darius in Susa (510 BC)
This representation of the Palace of Darius in Susa, gives a peek at the grandeur of ancient Persian architecture.
Location: Sully, Ground Floor: Room 308
#15 Mesha Stela (9th Century BC)
The Mesha Stela, dating back to the 9th century BC, is like an ancient billboard. Carved with Moabite script, it tells the tale of Mesha (the king of Moab) boasting about his victories and the construction of buildings.
Location: Sully, Ground Floor: Room 303
#16The Winged Bulls from Khorsabad (721-705 BC)
These colossal Assyrian sculptures guarded the ancient city of Khorsabad, with their imposing presence. How cool.
Location: Sully, Ground Floor: Room 308 ?
#17 The Code of Hammurabi (1754-1765 BC)
I almost missed this, if it wasn’t for a tour group in front which made me curious. This ancient Babylonian stele is one of the earliest written legal codes. Very cool when you understand its significance.
Location: Ground Floor: Room 227
#18 Neapolitan Fisherboy Playing with a Turtle (1833) by Francois Rude
This is one of my favorites! It’s a sculpture of Neapolitan Fisherboy Playing with a Turtle. How amazing. I love how it captures the innocence and playfulness of youth.
Fun fact: The artist (Francois Rude) also designed the arc de triomphe sculpture of the Marseillaise.
Location: Richelieu, Ground Floor: Room 226
#19 Peace Statue (1806) by Antoine Chaudet
This statue is one you can’t you cant help but notice with its flashy bronze, silver, and gold.
Location: Richelieu, Ground Floor, Room: 225
#20 Love (1817) by Chaudet & Cartellier
This delightful sculptural portrayal of personified love holding a butterfly. I was really amazed by the detail and forgot for a moment how this was crafted in marble.
Location: Richelieu, Ground Floor: Room 225
#21 Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787-1793) by Antonio Canova
Canova’s sculpture tells a love story as Psyche (once lifeless) is revived by Cupid’s kiss.
Location: Denon, Ground Floor: Room 403
#22 Hercules Statue 1825 by Bosio & Carbonneaux
The Hercules Statue, depicts Hercules fighting Acheloüs (transformed into a serpent)
Location: Richelieu, Floor -1, Room 105
More Things to See at the Louvre if you have Time:
⭐ The Islamic art section (this was beautiful however too limited for my taste. It was just a separate space. I felt like they gave everything to their Abu Dhabi Louvre branch lol)
⭐ The Napoleon III apartments- these are very snazzy and belle époque and absolutely stunning apartments. The furniture and items these people owned were wild.
Definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen anything like it. The table in the center was adorned with mineral stones and was absolutely stunning. Located: Floor 1, Richelieu, room: 544
Note: The Musée Carnavalet (one of my fav. Museums) is free and has similar apartments to visit. Find all the free Paris museums open to everyone here.
⭐ The medieval fortress: it’s located on -1 floor at Sully room 133
Must Tips for Visiting the Louvre
To make the most of your visit to the Louvre, here are my tips:
• Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Girls I know you want to look cute for your Paris snapshots, but please don’t forget to grab a pair of comfortable shoes. Thank God sneakers are trendy now. If you really want that shot, you can pack some replacement shoes for photos and pack those separately.
• Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated throughout your visit.
• Consider using an audio guide or joining a guided tour to enhance your understanding of the artworks.
• Take breaks and rest in the Louvre’s cafes or open-air spaces. Although, keep in mind the cafes are generally overpriced and the selection is not great. There are some great open-air spaces to sit for example near the Hercules statue.
• Don’t forget to bring your cameras. You can bring cameras, just make sure you don’t use flash.
• If you see a lot of people in standing in front of a painting chances are it’s a big one. Be curious and see what it is. I’ve found a lot of interesting art this way.
• There is only one bathroom in the Carrousel du Louvre center (near the escalator) and you need to pay. The ones inside the Louvre museum are free. Ladies, avoid the first one at the entrance. There’s always a long wait line. People seem to forget that there are more toilets throughout the Louvre. Guys, you should be good and consider yourself blessed- I’ve never seen a queue for men.
As you’re ending your visit have a peek through the gift shop at the entrance/exit. It’s only accessible inside the museum. I found some of the stuff super amusing. You can read more about my discoveries here and what you can score.
As always make sure to pre-book your Louvre tickets for a smooth sailing trip.
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