No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Louvre.
The Louvre is one of my favourite places and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it's the most famous, the most spectacular art gallery in the world. But it's so much more than that! It's also a museum, a piece of royal history, and a medieval fortress. At times, it's been the most crowded place I've ever experienced and I've also been completely alone for several rooms at a time.
If your trip to Paris includes a visit to the Louvre - and it absolutely should - here are some insider secrets to help you get the most out of your visit.
Secret #1: The Louvre Has FOUR Entrances.
Only slightly less busy is the second entrance at Galerie du Carrousel, which takes you through some of the Louvre shops. The Carrousel's stone arch is often used as a meeting point for tour groups.
While Paris is normally a very safe city, pickpockets are thick as thieves (hmmm.... bad pun?) around the pyramid entrance, inside the Grand Gallery, and around key attractions like the Mona Lisa. Wallets stashed in jacket and jean pockets or in open tote bags are at especially high risk. Keep your belongings close and your wits sharp.
Secret 2: Your Louvre Visit Might Be Free.
As well, the following visitors can enjoy free admission year round: - visitors under the age of 18, 18-25 year-old residents of the European Economic Area, teachers of art, art history, and the applied arts, holders of a valid "Pass Education" card (primary and secondary school teachers in French public schools and private schools receiving government subsidies), artists affiliated to the Maison des Artistes (in France) or the AIAP (Association Internationale des Arts Plastiques), unemployed individuals and visitors receiving benefits (proof of entitlement must be dated within the last six months), and disabled visitors and their guest or helper.
Whatever you do, don't try to get in on a Tuesday. The Louvre is always closed on Tuesdays, no matter how much you're willing to pay!
Secret 3: Become an Official "Ami de Louvre".
I'm a huge supporter of art galleries and museums of all sizes and I know the money earned from admissions, donations, and memberships goes towards important work, from conservation to curration to community outreach. As such, I wouldn't personally be comfortable doing this clever backpacker's trick: visit one gallery, such as the Louvre, in the morning and then swap tickets with a friend to see another gallery, such as Musee D'Orsay, in the afternoon. I've also heard it's fairly easy to pick up a discarded ticket outside the entrance as people are prone to littering and then you can enter for free. Is this taking the free 'in and out all day' privileges a little too far? The regular admission cost of 12 Euros is a very reasonable price to pay to see the Louvre, but I suppose there is an argument to be made that tickets do allow for in and out privileges all day and some travelers only visit for an hour or two and then would just throw their ticket away. I'd be curious to hear your take on this - is it a clever, crafty way for budget travelers to save precious dollars or is it frugality gone too far?
Secret 4: You Can Skip the Lines - And You Can Have The Louvre To Yourself!
You can buy tickets in advance directly through the Louvre's website and also through a number of tourist pass programs. My best advice before you invest in a pass is to carefully read about what attractions are included. These are often advertised as "admission to the Louvre and X number of other museums" - but they're only really a good deal if you actually go to the other museums.
On our last trip to the Louvre, we did a three hour guided tour with My Parisian Tours/City Wonders. Our guide was fantastic - this was no pre-recorded commentary but genuine insights from a trained art historian. While our guide did an excellent job of navigating the crazy crowds of the Denon Wing, my favourite part of the tour was when she brought up to some of the quietest corners of the Richelieu and Sully wings. There were times when were were the only people for several rooms in a row. It felt like the entire Louvre had suddenly closed down just for us!
Secret 5: Touchable Art, Trampolines, and Tuileries Tours.
The Tuileries Gardens, just beyond the Carrousel Arc, is the oldest and largest public park in Paris, but a complimentary guided tour is just the thing to make you feel cozy and at home. Tours depart on Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30pm from the Carrousel Arc from late April to late October.
While in the Tuileries Gardens, be sure to head to the Trampolines between the Terrasse des Feuillants and the octogonal pond -this is the best way for children to burn off some extra energy and for visitors of all ages to enjoy some fresh air.
It's No Secret - The Louvre is the Heart of Paris
I have been on multiple occasions and every stop it feels like I'm seeing everything again for the first time. I always book a hotel close by for convenience and I have spent many an hour sitting in the ground floor cafe, filling out postcards, and writing down memories of everything I had experienced, all while watching the world go by. I know I'll be back for another visit - and I hope to see you there!
Are you planning a trip to Paris? These blog posts are sure to help!
My Favourite Secret Spots in Paris
Hotel Review: Paris' Hotel Academie
Paris: Day 2 & 3 of our Round The World Trip
Budget Friendly Paris for First Timers
Touring Paris by Bike