Planning a trip to the City of Lights? Stick the Louvre at the top of your plan. It’s easy and exciting to get lost in this massive art museum, with 35,000 pieces displayed across various collections. Because of its significant size, seeing everything in one day is almost impossible. Be prepared to take a second and even third trip to the Louvre if you’re the type of visitor who wants to sit and appreciate each masterpiece.

Getting to the Louvre by train

If you're travelling from within France to Paris, the capital is served by plenty of high-speed SNCF lines from all corners of the country. These are some of the most popular services to Paris, most of which arrive into Gare du Nord or Gare de Lyon stations:

Route Fastest journey High-speed?
Avignon to Paris 2h 41m Yes
Bordeaux to Paris 2h 09m Yes
Lyon to Paris 1h 55m Yes
Marseille to Paris 3h 12m Yes
Nice to Paris 5h 44m Yes
Strasbourg to Paris 2h 23m Yes

Paris is served by an efficient public transport system, which means getting about is easy. No matter where in the city you’re based, you can hop on a Metro or RER service and be at the Louvre in no time.

Which station is closest to the Louvre?

Because it’s in the centre of the city, it’s no exaggeration to say that the Louvre is surrounded by Metro stops. The closest stops are Louvre Rivoli and Palais Royal Musée du Louvre, both of which are on line 1, so ride to one of these if you’d prefer to get straight in.

If you’re travelling by RER, you’ll want to take the train to Châtelet–Les Halles, which happens to be one of the largest underground stations in the world. From there, it’s just 10 minutes’ walk to the museum.

Paris city trains run very frequently, so no need to worry about your departure time. Simply stump up at your nearest stop or station and wait a couple of minutes for a service to arrive.

What to see at the Louvre Museum

Home to some of the most famous masterpieces in the world, as well as thousands of sculptures, paintings, and drawings you may never have heard of, there’s plenty to see at the Louvre.

It can be a good idea to plan some of the things you’d like to see before you arrive, then give yourself a rough route and schedule to make sure you don’t miss any of the museum’s main attractions. These are 10 of the most visited pieces at the Louvre:

  • Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci
  • Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch
  • Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova
  • The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David
  • Winged Victory of Samothrace
  • Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
  • Great Sphinx of Tanis
  • The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault
  • Sleeping Hermaphroditus
  • Dying Slave by Michelangelo

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of these pieces. We’ll let you know where to find them inside the museum too, so you can save time searching and get straight to standing in awe.

Mona Lisa

Artist:

Leonardo DaVinci

Year:

1503

Louvre location:

Denon wing

1st floor

Mona Lisa room

Room 711

Of course, we’re going to mention the Mona Lisa. No guide to the Louvre would be complete without it. Perhaps the most famous portrait in the world, DaVinci’s iconic painting is thought to represent a woman called Lisa Gherardini. However, the exact identity of the sitter, who commissioned the work, remains uncertain.

Also unknown is how long Leonardo worked on the Mona Lisa, how long he kept it, and how it became a part of the French royal collection.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Artist:

Unknown

Year:

190 BC

Louvre location:

Denon wing

1st floor

Victory of Samothrace staircase

Room 713

One of the museum’s great ladies, the Winged Victory of Samothrace is an undeniable masterpiece, an imposing figure that’s sure to impress even the most reluctant spectator. Her theatrical position and billowing garments add to the effect of this monumental Hellenistic sculpture.

Representing Nike, winged goddess of victory, the sculpture was discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the northwest Aegean. Because of the type of ship depicted and the marble used, as well as her dress style, archaeologists and historians place the sculpture’s creation at around 190 BC.

The Raft of the Medusa

Artist:

Théodore Géricault

Year:

1819

Louvre location:

Denon wing

1st floor

Mollien

Room 700

Théodore Géricault’s haunting The Raft of the Medusa is a significant piece of 19th-century French art and is considered an icon of the Romantic era. The chaotic scene shows the wreck of a ship off the coast of Senegal. The artist sketched out several arrangements before bringing a brush to his canvas. If you look closely, you’ll notice Géricault’s final composition shows some hope of rescue among the wretched sailors.

The artist took inspiration from the stories of two survivors from the Medusa, a French Royal Navy frigate. The Medusa suffered a terrible shipwreck in 1816. Give yourself a little time with this one. Once you get past the initially shocking scene, where wounded men and corpses lay scattered about a raft, there’s a lot to be discovered in this unique and undeniable masterpiece.

Louvre Museum History and Facts

A trip to the Louvre means viewing great works of art from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century. As well as its unparalleled collections, the museum offers another type of history to explore.

The beautiful historical palace that houses the Louvre dates back to the late 12th century and is a marvel in itself. The structure has seen lots of changes since its first construction. Many of the best architects in the world have worked on the developments and restorations that make today’s structure a striking mix of old and new.

The founding of the Louvre

The history of the Louvre began way back in 1190 when King Phillip Augustus decided to build a fortified enclosure around the city. To protect the weak spots, the Augustus needed a castle, and so the very first Louvre was erected. Its role was to protect and watch over the city of Paris, which was then much smaller than the one we know today.

A royal residence

When the Hundred Years’ War came to an end, French kings had become used to living outside the capital. This changed when François I came into power. The new King wanted to regain control of Paris, so he decided to make his primary residence there in 1528. The old Louvre, then still a medieval château, was updated and rebuilt into a more suitable royal palace.

Becoming a museum

Nearly every monarch who lived at the Louvre expanded it, and today the area spans 60,600 square meters. When Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles in 1682, the Louvre became a home for several art academies and began offering exhibitions of work.

The National Assembly opened the Louvre as an official museum in 1793. However, it was forced to close three years later because of structural problems. Napoleon Bonaparte then reopened the museum and expanded its collections. After Napoleon, the museum continued to grow, with additional buildings added to the under the first president of France, Napoleon III, in the mid-19th century.

The modern Louvre

The Louvre today is marked by its glimmering glass pyramid. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most recent additions to the historic palace, first commissioned in 1983. I. M. Pei, an American-Chinese architect, was tasked with modernising the museum by personal invitation of French president François Mitterrand. Pei had the idea to build a new space underground. This would be topped with the large glass pyramid which today marks the entrance, also serving to flood the area beneath with light.

The unusual architecture and its immediate sign-off by Mirrerrand was a decision that infuriated many. Today, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Pyramid is beloved throughout the city and around the world. A happy ending to a long and turbulent story.

Restaurants, Bars, and Shops at the Louvre Museum

With a central Paris location, it’s no surprise that the Louvre benefits from plenty of great restaurants and retail nearby. There are also some excellent spots to eat, drink, and shop inside the museum, which means you can refuel and crack on without a fuss.

Where to eat at the Louvre

  • Goguette – a varied menu of healthy, seasonal food right beneath the Pyramid
  • Bistrot Benoit – a cosy Parisian bistro beneath the Pyramid
  • Café Marly – a modern, elegant brasserie in the Richelieu wing
  • Café Richelieu-Angeline – a gourmet tearoom in a magnificent setting
  • Café Diane – for a breath of fresh air and classic café food in Tuileries Gardens
  • Café Mollien – ideal for lunch or coffee, this café is at the heart of the Louvre
  • Comptoir du Louvre – sandwiches, salads, and pastries beneath the Pyramid
  • Terrasse de Pomone – an open-air brasserie and crêperie with views of the Louvre

So, no need to worry about what to do for lunch when you visit the Louvre. With so many options to suit every budget, you’re sure to find something tasty to keep you going.

The Louvre shops

You’ll find bookstores and gift shops dotted around the museum too, which means picking up a souvenir or a treat for yourself can be hard to resist. The stuff you’ll find here is high-quality and unique, so it’s well worth a stop if you’re looking for something to take home.

The central Book and Gift Shop offers a wide selection of museum-related merchandise. Browse jewellery, gifts, stationery, prints, and replica sculptures that will always remind you of your visit. There are also lots of beautiful art and children’s books to peruse on the first floor. We’re sure you’ll find something you love!

Opening Times and Ticket Prices

When you’re planning your trip to the Louvre Museum, it’s best to book your tickets online. By booking online, you reserve an entrance time slot, which means you won’t need to stand in line for too long.

The Louvre is open from 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Tuesdays, when the museum is closed.

Ticket prices

The cost of your visit will depend on whether you buy it online or at the museum entrance. Here are the most recent prices for 2020:

 

Adults (online)

Adults (at the museum)

EU residents (age 18-25)

Children (under 18)

Disabled visitors

Admission:

€17.00

€15.00

Free

Free

Free

Whether you’re interested in art or not, a trip to the Louvre is always a good idea. With so much to see and collections spread throughout magnificent historical buildings, we’re sure you’ll find a piece or two to pique your interest.

After your visit, you can hop back on a Metro or RER service to any part of Paris. Or, stick around the Louvre-Tuileries area for plenty more to see and to. Why not explore some chic Parisian boutiques in nearby shopping districts, or head out to dinner at one of the best restaurants in town? Getting around the French capital is as straightforward as can be.

Whether you’re spending a few days or you’re enjoying a more extended trip, you’ll have no trouble making the most of your time in this unique and iconic city.

Visiting Paris from further afield?

Europe is so well connected by rail that you can get to Paris on the train easily from mainland Europe and the UK. Not only is it the scenic way to travel, you'll be doing your bit for the environment, too. These are just some of the journeys you can take to get to Paris from Europe:

Route Fastest journey Changes
London to Paris 2h 16m Direct
Barcelona to Paris 6h 38m Direct
Amsterdam to Paris 3h 20m Direct
Brussels to Paris 1h 22m Direct
Zurich to Paris 4h 06m Direct
Munich to Paris 6h 37m 1 change
Stuttgart to Paris 4h 13m Direct