Paris – Exploring the Louvre Museum

Hi friends, welcome back to my Paris and London Anniversary series 🙂 On our third day in Paris, Jon and I grabbed coffee and then headed to the Louvre’s Main Pyramid Entrance for our 9:30 am time slot. The lines looked long, but they are pretty good about enforcing the time slots and lining people up accordingly, so it wasn’t any issue. I had bought tickets for the museum, free special exhibit, and a guided tour at 11am, but when we scanned the tickets after going through security, they didn’t work because I accidentally bought them for the following Saturday. I couldn’t believe I mixed up the dates because I had bought them three months in advance, but we could change our tickets for the right day so it wasn’t a big deal. The tour was sold out so we missed out on that, but we had a great time exploring on our own! (Note: pictures of the Louvre exterior in this post are from multiple days, we walked by the museum just about every day)

Once I got passed the wrong date snafu, we made a beeline for the Mona Lisa. There are signs everywhere leading to the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci so it’s incredibly easy to find. There is a queue to wait in for your thirty seconds to see her, but the line was relatively short and moved quickly. It was nice they kept it moving so everyone had a chance to see one of the most well known paintings in the world. I had seen videos beforehand so I knew what to expect and wasn’t thrown off by the line or how small the painting actually was.

Obligatory selfie with the Mona Lisa.

Across the room from the Mona Lisa hangs the massive The Marriage at Cana by Paolo Veronsese. This painting depicts the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine.

The night before, Jon and I made a list of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the museum (with the help of the Rick Steves’ Paris book), so we decided to browse the collections on our way to each item. The Louvre features artwork from the ancient world until 1850 and displays over 35,000 objects. It’s estimated that if you spend 30 seconds looking at each piece of art, it would take about 200 days to see the entire collection! I’d recommend going into the Louvre with a plan of what you want to see or you’ll be completely overwhelmed.

Some of the highlights include Venus de Milo, the goddess of love.

Athena facing Venus de Milo across the room.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The Coronation of Emperor Napoleon by French painter Jacques-Louis David. This painting shows Napoleon crowning himself as Emperor at Notre Dame, much to the Pope’s chagrin. We saw a replica of this at Versailles.

The Apollo Gallery was one of my favorite rooms highlighting many beautiful Crown Jewels.

This was the crown of Louis XV.

This 140-carat Regent Diamond was worn on crowns by Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Napoleon. This room was a nice preview for seeing the Crown Jewels in London.


Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix.

La Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres.

The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault. This painting eerily depicts an 1816 shipwreck of the Medusa near Africa. Only 15 of 150 men lived to tell the tale.

One of my favorite areas was the Napoléon III Apartments, they were so luxurious! The Louvre used to be the home of the French kings before Versailles was built, and it was turned into a museum after the French Revolution. These rooms show what it was like during that time of royalty. I’d highly recommend visiting here if you don’t have time to make it out to Versailles.

These rooms were designed in 1861 and have remained mostly the same ever since. The Minister of State and his family resided here until 1870, and then the Ministry of Finance and family until 1989 before all of the Louvre was included in the museum. This area of the museum was officially opened to the public as part of the museum in 1993.

We wouldn’t be tourists without a picture with the famous pyramid 😉

The Louvre on Tuesday, her day off.

Jon and I spent almost five hours in the museum, a lot longer than I thought! I was worried that without a guided tour we wouldn’t know what to see or lose steam quickly, but we did just fine. It’s clear why this is the most visited museum in the world and we had a great time wandering through the massive space. Jon and I were pretty exhausted after our visit here, so we headed back to the hotel and grabbed some macaroons from Laudree across the street to snack on. About an hour and a half later we set off for a forty-five-minute walk down the Champs de Elysses to the Arc De Triomphe! Stay tuned for the second half of our 27,000 step day 🙂


Posts in my Paris and London Anniversary series:

33 thoughts on “Paris – Exploring the Louvre Museum

  1. A great museum for sure Lyssy. We have been there 4 times and there is still a lot to see. On our first visit in 1984, there was no line up rail or art protection around the Mona Lisa. Those were the good old days. So many things to see in Paris Museums. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    1. Oh wow! You got to see her up close. We were there a few days before she got covered in cake!

      1. What is it with people who feel they need to spoil art or architecture to make a statement. Well they made a statement and it is I am an A–hole. 🙂

      2. I agree! It didn’t make sense to me because I believe he was protesting about the climate…

  2. I went to Paris in 2004 after graduating high school (22 years 😳). We visited the Louvre and the Mona Lisa and Cown Jewels are all I really remember. I remember the 30 seconds we go to see Mona Lisa and being surprised at how small it was hehe. I definitely want to go back, and love the idea of making a list of paintings to see! Thanks for sharing, I looked forward to your next post 😊

    1. Thank you! It’s amazing how small the Mona Lisa was, I definitely pictured her being large and commanding. Hope you make it back soon 🙂

  3. You got to see so much! While I did get to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo statue I don’t remember much else about my trip to the louvre.. but I do remember thinking it was pretty short and wished I had had more time to explore.

    1. It’s such an overwhelmingly massive museum it’s hard to remember everything! It’s such a great museum to explore and get lost in 🙂

  4. The highlight of my visit to the Louvre was the Venus de Milo. I was in awe. For some reason, it seemed t be clearly superior to other sculptures. On the other hand, I lack the knowledge to make much distinction between one painting and another although Mona Lisa was very impressive. I can’t help but think of the Da Vinci Code (book and movie) when I see pictures of the Louvre. The photos of you guys as giants are very cool. I wish I had one.

    1. It’s amazing that the Venus de Milo is so old too! I am with you and enjoy looking at art, but don’t know how to tell good art from another other than if I like it or not. I read the Da Vinci Code but I don’t think I’ve seen the movie somehow. It took a lot of coordination to get the pics of us as giants but they are fun!

      1. That seems like the perfect amount of time so you don’t get burnt out.

    1. Thank you! We just missed that person by a few days I think. I also don’t see the connection to art…seems he could’ve had a more sensical plan

  5. Oh, these marathon sightseeing days, I know them so well. Lovely shots inside and outside the Louvre. The queues are really something, especially the Mona Lisa one. And, the 30 second viewing, that’s not a joke I suppose. I think we’ll have do Paris one of these years properly.

    1. No the 30 seconds were strictly enforced haha. Although it’s better than the big crowds we experienced at the Orsay Museum by the Starry Night by VanGogh. Paris is always a good idea!

    1. It’s such an incredible museum! We were there not too long before the Mona Lisa got caked.

  6. I had no idea the Louvre used to be a house, which explains the “non-museum” look of the architecture. I remember when I.M. Pei’s pyramid was revealed, to the shock of the entire world. I can only imagine how the French felt about it at the time. Now it’s one of the most iconic and recognizable structures in the world. The room-size paintings fascinate me (one of your pictures shows two of them). How the painter creates something so massive is beyond me. I feel like he/she would have to step back constantly to assess their progress. Finally, the Mona Lisa looks a little lost on the nondescript background of the wall, especially the small size of the painting. I expected more of a presentation (maybe even her own room.) Regardless, it’s great you had your moment with her, as well as the selfie. I would’ve assumed the Louvre would make you surrender your phones at the entrance.

    1. It’s a very elegant looking museum! The pyramid doesn’t really match the elegance of the Louvre exterior, but now it’s iconic. I love the room size paintings too, they must take a very long time. I feel like they would have to have a grid of coordinates for what to paint where. I was glad I saw videos about the Mona Lisa or I would’ve been a bit disappointed by the experience. It is amazing you can take pictures of everything, just no flash.

  7. I liked your comparison of 30 seconds at each piece of art =200 days. While in D.C. we were told that there were so many Smithsonian s and exhibits that if spent 3 minutes at each exhibit it would take you 90 years to see everything.

    1. Wow! 3 minutes seems like a long time to look at everything. I haven’t been to the Smithsonian yet, or DC. One day!

    1. Such a great time! Did you even go to the Louvre if you don’t have a selfie with the Mona Lisa 🙂 so silly that she got caked!

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