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The Louvre Museum in Paris

An Overview of One of the Globe's Great Treasures

By

The Louvre The Louvre Museum at night in Paris
Marcaux/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Introduction:

As museums go, the Louvre is quite simply a mammoth. The word "museum" may even be insufficient: the collections are so vast, diverse, and breathtaking that visitors may have the impression of navigating a maze of distinct artistic and cultural worlds.

Housed in the Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace), the former seat of French royalty, the Louvre emerged in the 12th century as a medieval fortress, slowly evolving toward its status as a public arts museum during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Since then, it has become the globe's most-visited museum, and an enduring symbol of French excellence in the arts.

Spanning eight thematic departments and 35,000 pieces of artwork dating from Antiquity to the early modern period, the museum's permanent collection includes masterpieces by European masters such as Da Vinci, Delacroix, Vermeer, and Rubens, as well as unsurpassed Greco-Roman, Egyptian, or Islamic arts collections. Frequent temporary exhibits often highlight particular artists or movements, and are almost always worthwhile.

Location and Contact Information:

General Access (individuals without tickets): Musée du Louvre, 1st arrondissement-- Porte des Lions, Galerie du Carrousel, or Pyramid entrances
Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (Line 1)
Bus: Lines 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95, and the Paris Open Tour bus all stop in front of the glass pyramid (the main entrance to the museum).
Information on the Web: Visit the Louvre's official website

Sights and Attractions Nearby:

Opening Hours:

Open Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 9 am-6 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday 9 am-10 p.m. Admission is free for all on the first Sunday of each month.

The museum is closed Tuesdays and on the following dates:

  • January 1st
  • May 1st
  • May 8th
  • December 25th

For more detailed information on opening hours for current exhibits or events at the Louvre, consult this page.

Admission/Tickets:

For up-to-date details on admission fees to the Louvre Museum, consult this page at the official Musee du Louvre site.

The Paris Museum Pass includes admission to the Louvre. (Buy Direct at Rail Europe)

Louvre Museum Tours:

Guided tours of the Louvre are available for individuals and groups and can make a visit to the museum degrees less overwhelming. Find out more about Louvre museum tours on this page.

Collections, Exhibits and Events at the Louvre:

The following guides will help you navigate the Louvre museum's collections and exhibits and make choices about what you'd like to see ahead of your next visit:

Accessibility:

The Louvre is generally recognized as being adequately accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. Visitors with wheelchairs have priority access to the museum's main entrance at the pyramid and do not have to wait in line. Wheelchairs may also be rented free of charge at the museum's information desk (an identification card will be required as a deposit). Visitors with guide dogs, tip canes, and other aids have full access to the collections.

Visitor Tips:

Read our Top Louvre Museum Tips to find out how to avoid burnout and make the most of your visit.

Pictures of the Louvre:

For an overview of some of the museum's most important works and details, take a look at our Louvre Pictures Gallery.

Read More About the History of the Museum:

Consult this page for an in-depth look at the Louvre Museum's rich and tumultuous history.

Shopping and Dining:

  • The museum itself features several restaurants and snack bars in addition to a cafeteria:
     
    • Just below the Pyramid, the restaurant "Le Grand Louvre" offers gourmet specialties in a classic setting. Open from 12 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
    • On the lower ground floor, the Cafe Denon offers snacks and casual meals. Open from 9:30 am to 5:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. during evening openings).
    • On the second floor (European "first floor"), the Cafe Richelieu offers more casual dining possibilities: sandwiches, salads, cold and hot drinks, etc. Open from 10:15 am to 5:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. during evening openings).
  • For books and gifts, head to the Louvre bookshop in the "Hall Napoleon" under the Pyramid. The bookshop boasts France's largest selection of art history titles, in addition to a wide range of guidebooks in various languages, childrens' books, and engravings. Open from 9:30 am to 7:00 p.m. (closes at 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday).
     
  • The Carrousel du Louvre is a popular shopping center housed within the Louvre palace and accessible via the Rue de Rivoli entrance. Open 7 days a week, the Carrousel du Louvre offers designer fashion, home design shops, fine gifts, and other shops you'd expect to find in an upscale shopping center. An extensive upstairs food court is a notch more gourmet-- and also a notch more costly-- than standard mall counterparts.

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