How To Visit The Louvre For The First Time


Glass pyramid entrance for the Louvre Museum Where Are Those Morgans

The Louvre is one of the largest and most visited museums in the entire world. It contains over 600,000 works of art, showcasing about 35,000 works of art at a time and spanning almost 10,000 years of history. If you wanted to see everything inside the Louvre, it would take weeks so we recommend having some sort of plan for your visit.

And while a trip to the Louvre sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. In this guide, we’ll show you what to expect inside, best things to see and ticket options including what to do if tickets are sold out online.

Our Paris Experience

Woman pinching the top of the glass pyramid to the Louvre
Kristen taking fun shots with the glass pyramid

We’ve been to Paris multiple times and have visited the Louvre on two separate occasions. The first time was in July 2018 during our 18 month honeymoon and our most recent trip on November 2023. Both times we booked tickets online and visited early in the morning, but if we were to visit again, we’d change a few things so we’ll tell you what we could have improved for our visit. Read more about us.

No matter the time of year, the Louvre is always busy because it’s one of the top attractions in Paris. But it’s a very large place and you can escape the crowds if you know where to go.

History Of The Louvre

Many visitors trying to take a photo of the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci
Multiple people trying to take a photo of the Mona Lisa

The Louvre was originally built in 1190 as a fortress on the banks of the Seine River for King Philippe Auguste. You can still see the old wall remnants in the basement of the museum, just look for the Medieval Louvre in the crypt below.

In 1364, the Louvre officially became a royal residence and it was modified several times over the years including the Grande Galerie during the reign of Henri IV. However, the expansion of the Louvre was paused when Louis XIV moved his budget to the Palace of Versailles in the 1670’s and it solely operated as a private art gallery for the wealthy during this time.

During the French Revolution, it was decreed the Louvre would become a public art museum. So on August 10th, 1793, the Louvre was officially inaugurated with about 500 works of art. Since this time, the Louvre has seen numerous renovations with thousands of works added to its enormous collection we can see today.

The Pyramid Project in the late 1980’s designed by Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei was an architectural feat that has now become one of the most recognizable structures in the world. This glass pyramid is now the main entrance to the museum. Further installations include the Department of Islamic Art added in 2012 along with the Department of Byzantine and Eastern Christian Art in 2022.

In 2023, the Louvre welcomed 8.9 million visitors making it the most visited museum in the world with the Vatican Museums in Rome following in the #2 spot. The three most popular pieces inside include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. During your visit, think about how the museum has also been home to numerous kings.

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Visitor Information

The Louvre is open every day of the week, except Tuesdays, from 9:00am to 6:00pm. But on Wednesdays and Fridays, the museum stays open a bit later until 9:00pm. It’s closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th, remaining open on all other public holidays unless they fall on a Tuesday.

A ticket to the Louvre booked on the official website will give you access to the permanent collections as well as the temporary exhibitions. You can also visit the Eugène-Delacroix National Museum on the same day or the day after your visit. We’ll discuss various ticket options later in our guide.

There are four main entrances for the Louvre and every visitor must pass through security when entering. The most well known entrance is the large glass pyramid in the middle of the central courtyard and it’s the only entrance you can use if you do not have a pre-booked ticket.

During our last visit, there were four different lines for entry:

  • Blue line: Priority access for disable visitors
  • Green line: Visitors with pre-booked tickets or the Paris Museum Pass
  • Orange line: Visitors without tickets
  • Yellow line: Visitors with memberships

We booked the 9:30am timed entry reservation (9:00am was sold out) and we still had to wait 45 minutes in the security line to get into the Louvre in November even though we got in line at 9:15am. Before getting in line, a staff member checked our tickets.

The second entrance to the Louvre is known as the underground mall entrance. It’s accessed through the Carrousel de Louvre shopping mall (Galerie du Carrousel). Here are the ways you can access this entrance:

  • Enter at 99 Rue de Rivoli (take the escalator down to the shopping mall)
  • Directly across from the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre metro stop (look for signs)
  • Tuileries Garden entrance (both sides of the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel leads to stairs underground)

Both times we visited we used the pyramid entrance, but next time we’re going to use the Carrousel entrance which often has smaller lines. There is another entrance at the Richelieu passage, but it’s reserved for groups and those with membership cards. You can also use the Porte des Lions entrance, but you need a ticket and it’s closed on Fridays.

READ: The perfect weekend in Paris

What To Expect Inside

View underneath the glass pyramid at the Louvre
View underneath the glass pyramid

After entering through the Pyramid, you’ll pass through airport style security and then take an escalator or steps down to the Louvre. If you entered through the Galerie du Carrousel, you’ll already be on the main floor under the pyramid. This is considered to be the Reception Hall of the museum.

The collections in the museums are displayed on five different levels in three interconnecting wings, named after prominent figures in French history. After the Reception Hall, you’ll have the option to start with the Denon Wing, Richelieu Wing or Sully Wing.

Here is an a quick overview of the three wings:

  • Denon – The most popular wing because it’s home to several of the top sights including two we mentioned at the beginning of this guide (Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace). It also showcases the Apollo Gallery, Greek and Roman Antiquities, the French Crown Jewels as well as famous painintings from France, Spain and Italy.
  • Richelieu – In this wing, you can see paintings from Northern Europe, Napoleon’s III apartments, Iraq and Mesopotamia Antiquities (Code of Hammurabi is popular) and additional decorative arts from Europe.
  • Richelieu – This wing contains the oldest artifacts in the Louvre including Egyptian Antiquities, the Medieval Louvre as well as Iran, Levant and Arabia Antiquities. The Venus de Milo is also located here.

Travel Tip: We entered through the Denon Wing and it was quite busy so we had to wait in another short 10 minute line. Less visitors begin at the Richelieu or Sully Wing so they often have smaller crowds.

Long line of people waiting to get inside the Denon Wing at the Louvre
The line we unfortunately encountered at the Denon Wing

Before entering one of the wings, you can pick up a map of the museum. It’s free and details what you can see in every room, but it’s confusing. You’ll also be able to pick up an audioguide for €6,00. There are small descriptions at each work of art, but if you want to learn more, you might want to consider an audioguide if you’re not taking a guided tour.

On the official website, you can use an interactive museum map and see a schedule of room closures. Unfortunately, the Napoleon Apartments we’re closed during our visit, but we could visit just about everything else.

Best Things To See At The Louvre

After both of our visits, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to the see inside the Louvre. It includes highlights of the museums spread across multiple floors. Use this list to see the top things during your visit because we’ve sorted by wings, rooms and levels.

Denon Wing:

  • Liberty Leading the People: Room 702 – Denon Wing (Level 1)
  • Mona Lisa: Room 711 – Denon wing (Level 1)
  • Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss: Room 403 – Denon wing (Level 0)
  • Slaves (Rebellious Slave and Dying Slave by Michelangelo): Room 403 – Denon wing (Level 0)
  • The Coronation Of Napoleon: Room 702 – Denon Wing (Level 1)
  • The French Crown Jewels: Room 705 (in the Apollo Galerie) – Denon Wing (Level 1)
  • The Grande Galerie: Room 710 – Denon wing (Level 1)
  • The Pyramid (as seen from inside the museum): Room 404 – Denon wing (Level 0)
  • The Raft of Medusa: Room 700 – Denon wing (Level 1)
  • The Wedding Feast at Cana: Room 711, Denon wing (Level 1)
  • Winged Victory of Samothrace: Room 703 – Denon wing (Level 1)
Tourist posing with the Winged Victory of Samothrace
Kristen posing for a photo with the Winged Victory of Samothrace

Sully Wing:

  • Great Sphinx of Tanis: Room 348 – Sully wing – Level -1
  • Egyptian Antiquities: Sully Wing – Levels 0 + 1 (multiple rooms)
  • Medieval Louvre: Room 113 – Sully Wing – Level -1
  • The Caryatids: Room 348 – Sully wing – Level 0
  • Venus de Milo: Room 346 – Sully wing – Level 0
Example of two large Egyptian artifacts inside a Paris Museum
Examples of large Egyptian artifacts

Richelieu Wing:

  • Code of Hammurabi: Room 227, Richelieu Wing (Level 0)
  • Napoleon III’s Apartments: Level 1 – Richelieu Wing (head to room 544)
  • The Cour Khorsabad: Room 229 – Richelieu wing (Level 0)
  • The Cour Puget: Room 105 – Richelieu Wing – Level -1
  • Sarcophagus of the Spouses: Room 663 – Richelieu Wing (Level 1)
Person walking through the Palace of Sargon II
Kristen exploring the Cour Khorsabad

Travel Tip: The Wedding Feast at Cana is the biggest painting in the Louvre measuring 6 meters high and almost 10 meters wide.

Lourve Ticket Options

Many ticket vendors for the Louvre offer a “skip the line” option. This basically means a pre-purchased ticket that allows you to skip the line for individuals without a timed entry reservation. If you book a ticket on the official website, it’s the same thing. You can also book a guided tour which depending on the company, has access to less busy group entrances. We highly recommend you book a timed entry reservation for the Louvre so you don’t run the risk of tickets selling out on the day of your visit.

If you do not purchase your ticket in advance, you’ll have to wait in an outdoor ticket line which can range from 1-3 hours depending on the time of year. You’ll be completely exposed to the elements and even in November, this line was well over an hour wait. This is not an efficient way to spend your time in Paris so please purchase your tickets in advance.

General admission tickets for the Louvre cost €22,00 for adults on the official website. You can book it here and you’ll have to chose a timed entry reservation which run on half and hour increments beginning at 9:00am. If you plan to visit in Paris during peak season in July and August or during the holidays, you should plan to book your tickets at least one month in advance.

However, if you want to book a guided tour or multiple attractions, you can also book with:

We visited the Louvre with a Tiqets Paris & Versailles Bundle. It includes the entry into the Louvre, Palace of Versailles and a Seine River Cruise. We could easily book timed entry tickets for all 3 attraction right on the Tiqets website and it was a little cheaper than purchasing all 3 attractions individually.

Even with a timed entry ticket, you’ll have to wait in a line with all of the other visitors who have the same time slot at the pyramid entrance. This line is unavoidable because it eventually leads to security.

Travel Tip: Residents of the European Economic Area aged 18-25 and anyone under 18 years old will receive free entry into the Louvre museum.

Guided Tour Options

Tourist walking into the timed entry reservation line outside of the Louvre
Kristen getting in the timed entry reservation line

If you want to take a guided tour in the Louvre, you have a few different options.

You can book a combined ticket for €31,00 which includes admission and a guided tour through the Louvre. These tours begin in the group reception area and are available in English, Spanish and Italian. English tours begin everyday at 9:45am with additional tours on 2:00pm on weekends as well as 6:00pm and 7:00pm on Fridays.

There are also various third party companies who offer highly reviewed guided tours. Your entry ticket to the museum is often included in these tours and they can be a good way to secure entry if all the tickets are sold out online. We’ve personally worked with each company listed below and can recommend their tours:


Get Your Guide

  • Museum Masterpieces – A 3 hour tour to the  renowned masterpieces with reserved access
  • Two Hour Tour – See the highlights in the Louvre with optional Orsay guided tour


Travel Tip: Before booking a tour, make sure you read the fine print so you know exactly what to expect.

Which Paris Passes Include The Louvre?

Examples of the Paris Museum Pass, a very popular attractions pass in the city
The Paris Museum Pass

If you’re consider purchasing an attraction pass for Paris, we highly recommend you read our guide comparing all the Paris passes here. We did the research and used 3 popular passes in the city during our last visit so we tell you what we liked and didn’t like about each one.

Here’s a high level overview of the Louvre on each pass:

We wouldn’t recommend other Paris pass options because we have not used them ourselves and users often complain about difficulty booking attractions.

Tips For Visiting

Emerald tiara from the French Crown Jewels
An emerald crown as part of the French Crown Jewels

After visiting ourselves, we compiled a small list of helpful tips to help you make the most of your trip to the Eiffel Tower.

  • Buy tickets in advance online. Avoid waiting hours to get into the Louvre and purchase your tickets before visiting.
  • The pyramid is the most popular entrance. It’s the best way to enter the Louvre, but it’s busy so use the Galerie du Carrousel for smaller crowds.
  • Restrooms are far and few in between. We thought there were not enough toilets considering how big the museum is so always use the facilities when one is nearby.
  • Don’t try to see everything. Find the major highlights then spend your time on what interests you.
  • The Richelieu is the quietest wing. If you can take the crowds anymore, head to this location inside the museum.
  • Book the first time slot of the day for the best experience (9:00am or 9:30am). You’ll get into the museum before the morning crowds. Wednesday and Friday afternoons are also a quieter time if you want avoid the rush. Next time we visit, we’ll go for an evening time slot.
  • Bring a small purse or backpack. Otherwise, you’ll have have to secure it in the locker room before entering the museum.

Our Louvre Photos

We love visiting the Louvre and took many photos! Here are a few of our favorites:

Woman standing outside of a Paris Museum
Kristen outside the large exterior of the main building
A beautifully painted ceiling side the Louvre in Paris
Don’t forget to look up and see the beautifully painted ceilings!
Two glass tea cups and a teapot inside Angelina in Paris
Head to Angelina’s if you need a bite to eat!
An ancient artifact inside a glass case inside the Louvre Museum in France
Close up view of an ancient artifact
The slaves, which are two famous sculpture by Michelangelo
Two slaves by Michelangelo
A crown from the French Crown Jewels
A piece from the French Crown Jewels
View of the famous glass pyramid as seen from inside the museum
Woman putting her backpack into a security locker
Kristen putting our backpack into one of the secure lockers
Man walking in front of the Louvre's glass pyramid
Mark walking away from the large glass pyramid
Woman entering the Les Caves De Louvre
Kristen going into Les Caves Du Louvre (highly recommend if you like wine)
Numerous visitors walking through one of the large halls inside the Louvre
Large crowds inside the Louvre museum
Side view of the large glass pyramid at the Louvre
Try to find unique perspective of the glass pyramid!
Tourist standing in front of a large painting at a Paris Museum
Mark taking in one of the large paintings
Multiple sculptures inside the Cour Puget
Visitors walking around the Cour Puget

More Paris Guides

Want more France content? Head over to our France Travel Guides to explore Paris and beyond.

We hope our guide to visiting the Louvre for the first time helps you with planning your Paris itinerary!

Please let us know if you have any questions about what to see in the Louvre in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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