While the Louvre is one of the most exciting places to visit in Paris, it is a little difficult for some one else to suggest to you what you should see or do there. There is so much to see when you visit the Louvre that it is important to understand that you would need weeks to review all the displays, so a little bit of research beforehand while save a lot of frustration. The first question is to figure out what is most important for you to see? Are you mainly interested in European Art and the Mona Lisa is top of your list? Is Greek or Roman history what you are most interested in? Choose you targets wisely and don’t spend more that 4 hours here (including time for coffee!) or you will sink from cultural exhaustion. This article is just an introduction to provide you with some information to help you plan your campaign.
There is a Metro stop just outside the Louvre so this is possibly the best way to get here from wherever you are staying. The entry to the museum is to be found in the centre of the wings of the place, through the glass pyramid that sits at the centre of the courtyard surrounded by pools and fountains. It was built here in 1989. The escalators take you underground where you will receive your entry ticket and all the information you need before trekking your way upstairs to the floors of the Museum.
The Museum is divided into three wings named after historical characters in France’s history…Richlieu, Sully and Denon. Choosing to do one wing at a time is one way of determining your approach to exploring the Louve. Excellent pamphlets published by the museum give a summary of what is on each floor of the wing to help you plan your campaign.
I first visited the Louvre in 2007 when I was visiting my daughter in London. It was around my birthday so she gave me a train ticket to Paris and a ticket to the Louvre to keep me out of her hair for a few of her working days. The idea of a carefully planned campaign of viewing the Louvre exhibits was far from my mind. I remember I started off from the bottom floor entry through the glass pyramid and did the tour of the old remnants of the castle that was the first building on the site. Based on my photographs of the visit, I then got stuck on the ground floor in the Richlieu wing, amazed at the amazing variety of artifacts in the Near Eastern section.
From the Near East I must have wandered around to the Denon Wing on the same floor level and inspected the Roman Antiquities.
Below is the diagram of the first floor of the Louvre with images of what can be found here. This is where the Mona Lisa can be found but expect crowds around it so it is difficult to spend contemplative time with the Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
My favourite piece in the whole Museum is the Winged Victory of Samothrace which can be found at the top of the stairs in the Denon wing of the Louvre. It can be spotted from a long way off with usually a crowd of visitors inspecting it. The story of its discovery is one of those accounts that makes young people dream of becoming archaeologists. It was discovered in 1863 by Charles Champoiseau on the island of Samothrace where he was exploring a ruined sanctuary. He found various parts of a statue of the goddess Nike, “Victory”, surviving from around 190 BCE. It is one of the few marble statues that has survived in its original form from antiquity (not a Roman copy!). It was shipped back to the Louvre and has been on exhibition since 1884. For over a century it has been restored many times as more parts of its original setting have been found. It was removed between 1939-45 and stored so it survived the war to be returned to the top of its stairs in the Louvre for the pleasure of modern visitors.
I returned to the Louvre in 2016 and again realised that you would need many months to do justice to what is preserved in this wonderful museum. I am hoping for another chance one day to have another prowl of the corridors of this museum of masterpieces.
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE