Visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris can be overwhelming and provoke a kind of sensory and intellectual overload if you attempt to take too much in. Visitors make some very common mistakes and end up feeling overwhelmed or claustrophobic, so it's important to learn how not to approach it. Follow these basic tips on how to best approach this mammoth of a museum, and you'll come away with a more enriching and satisfying experience.
It's all too easy to get hit by a sense of burnout when visiting the Louvre, which may seem inevitable given the museum's collection of 35,000 works of art and eight massive curatorial departments. But though it may be tempting to try to conquer the collections in a single day, this is likely the worst strategy one can take. Instead, I recommend browsing the collections online before your visit (or refer to the brochures you can pick up near the entrance to the collections) and settling on one or two wings within these to focus on. You can also choose a thematic trail if you wish to focus on certain periods of history or artistic schools. You'll likely find the experience much more enjoyable and enriching by taking this approach.
The Louvre is currently drawing averages of over 8 million visitors per year-- making it self-evident why avoiding peak times is necessary is you want to experience the collections in more than a superficial way. I recommend avoiding weekdays and the first Sunday of the month, when admission is free for all visitors. The free-admission option may sound like a tempting proposition, but if you're more interested in painting and sculpture than shoulders, elbows and heads, I suggest you avoid.
3. Take a Tour
The Louvre's collections are head-spinningly rich and complex. Rather than fend for yourself, booking a guided tour can be a good choice, particularly on a first visit. The Louvre offers a range of guided tours likely to suit most visitors' needs and centers of interest, including tours for children and families, disabled individuals or groups, and thematic gallery talks focusing on specific artistic movements or collection highlights.
You can also reserve tickets in advance for a guided tour of the Louvre (in English) via Rail Europe: (Book direct)
On a first visit to the Louvre, many, if not most, people make a beeline to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. This is perfectly understandable, but make sure not to overlook some of the less well-publicized treasures housed at the museum. In my book, a few of these include exploring the Louvre's medieval foundations, masterpieces of Islamic art, the recently renovated Apollo Gallery, and the Babylonian tablet known as the Hammurabi Code.
More Ideas From the Louvre Official Website: "Take a Fresh Look"
As previously mentioned, traipsing through the Louvre can easily induce a feeling of sensory and mental overload. One way to avoid feeling burnout during your visit is to take a virtual tour of the collections and read up on the museum's history and highlights ahead of time. You'll be more likely to be able to put things into a meaningful context and enjoy focusing your concentration on the works themselves.
More: Pictures of the Louvre