Located in the 1st arrondissement, the Louvre remains one of the most iconic attractions in Paris, hosting over 400,000 objects to date. While famous, it may not be worth the time, money, or headache required to see some of the ‘greats.’ Do yourself a favor and consider skipping the Louvre whether you’re a local Parisian or on holiday.
The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in the world, hosting almost 10 million visitors each year. That breaks down to about 15,000 visitors a day on an average basis. Considering that most will arrive between opening at 9 am and the early afternoon, that’s potentially 3,000 people an hour lining up at one of only four gates of entry. Giant lines are a massive buzzkill, so don’t waste your time standing in one.
If the line wasn’t enough to deter you, now imagine a crowd that large in disorder. Hoards of tourists and locals all vying for a limited amount of space means music festival level-sized space bubbles. In reality, everyone is aiming for that front row spot, so get your elbows up and ready if you hope to get anywhere close yourself.
A large crowd is never fun, but it’s really the behavior of other patrons that can diminish the experience of the Louvre, not just their existence in the space. The hunger for epic photos on social media platforms has ironically unplugged people from the present in front of them – and how they’re affecting others around them. Museum patrons have their smartphones, tablets, and traditional cameras held up and poking into other people’s space and views throughout the galleries. This continual obstruction can really diminish the overall atmosphere of any museum but is magnified by the sheer masses at the Louvre.
The Louvre is also one of the largest museums in the world. Over 60,500 square meters of gallery space means it is impossible to do in one day. So, unless you’re going in with a very clear game plan to see very specific works of art, you may leave feeling like you’ve missed out.
Even with a solid game plan, expect to get lost. The Louvre is renowned for its small, strangely placed, and minimal signage. Expect to be using a map and still having issues navigating. This can be especially frustrating in a time crunch or even simply exiting the building.
The Louvre is also fairly costly. Admission is 15€ plus at least one cafeteria break that can easily cost another 15€-20€ per person. For a family of four, that’s a 120€ minimum overhead cost not including transportation, audio guides, or the highly recommended option of hiring an actual tour guide. The Louvre is an expense that could be repurposed to experience one or even two of Paris’ other museums.
In close proximity to the Louvre, they’re two other great museums worth seeing, a beautiful garden, and historical square. The Musée d’Orsay houses a stunning array of French Impressionist paintings such as Monet or Degas, sculptures, and Art Nouveau. Tucked in the corner of the Tuileries Gardens, the Musée de l’Orangerie also displays French Impressionism alongside Post-Impressionism. After indulging in both, check out the sculpture work in the Tuileries Gardens before reaching Place de la Concorde to behold the fountains.
Due to the high percentage of tourists that visit each day, the Louvre is also a haven for pickpockets. So you may go to pay for your 80€ family meal and find your cards and cash have gone missing. This goes for any major attraction, so keep an eye on your personal items.
If you plan on visiting Paris with little ones, maybe skip the Louvre for the sake of sanity. Children should be exposed to the arts, but the style and layout of the Louvre can quickly get boring for those under 12. Also given the size and crowds, it would be a nightmare to get accidentally separated.
In the same amount of time, you can fit in a full day of other ‘must-do’ Parisian attractions. Starting in the morning, you can grab a crêpe along the Champs-Élysées, and then walk to the Arc de Triomphe before making your way to visit the Eiffel Tower.
Mid-morning calls for a river boat down the Seine to Le Pont Neuf where you can enjoy a picnic lunch or head into Saint-Germain-des-Prés for a nosh at one of its many delectable restaurants. Afterward, feel free to satiate your sweet tooth and do some quick shopping. When you’re done, take a peek at the Notre Dame and visit Shakespeare and Company for a souvenir. The Pantheon is a stone’s throw away, but if you would rather be outside, talk a stroll through the Jardin des Plantes or the Jardin du Luxembourg.
If it’s not good weather, consider heading down to the 14th to see the Catacombs. From there, you can catch the RER straight to artsy Montmartre for dinner around 6pm.