A Tour of the Iconic Treasures at the Louvre
The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and the most-visited museum in the world, with more than 7.8 million visitors in 2022! It would take you around 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the museum if you took 30 seconds to see each and every piece, according to Widjaja. Before we went to Paris and knowing how big the museum is, because we knew that we wouldn’t be able to spend more than four hours in a row in a museum, we did some research on what we should see and where everything is displayed. The downside is that the exhibits may be placed elsewhere, given for restoration, or lent to another museum. In addition, some rooms may be closed due to renovations. For this reason, in our guide regarding the tour of the iconic treasures at the Louvre, we will refer to the areas where you can see an exhibit, but with caution.
For more information about the rooms, please check the schedule of room closures.
History And Places
The museum was initially a fortress built in the late 12th century to protect Paris from invaders. It wasn’t until the 16th century that it was converted into a royal palace by Francis I.
What was the palace of the kings of France, is now the largest museum in the world covering almost 10,000 years of history. The museum owns 550,000 works, but more than half are locked up in storage.
The palace is divided into three wings: Richelieu, Sully, and Denon.
tour to most famous exhibits
The caryatids - Royal Collections
Enter through the Sully wing
When you reach the entrance to the Pavillon de l’Horloge, take the stairs on the right up to Level 1
At the top of the stairs, go through the double wooden doors on your right
You’re in the Salle des Cariatides.
( Room 348 - Sully wing - Level 0 )
This magnificent gallery was built in the 17th century and was intended to serve as a royal ballroom. This chamber introduces Renaissance architecture in Paris with its wonderful collection of antiquity statues. One of the first masterpieces to enter the royal collections, Diana the Huntress, was joined in 1807 by the Sleeping Hermaphroditos, purchased by Napoleon I.
Walk through the room and take the passage to the right of the monumental fireplace
Go straight on between the red marble pillars until you reach the Venus de Milo.
(Room 346 - Sully wing - Level 0)
Venus de Milo
The statue was found on the Greek island of Milos. The Venus de Milo (Aphrodite) was found in fragments and her original appearance is still something of a mystery. Though it was reconstructed to a standing posture, the statue’s arms were never found.
Take the first left after the red marble pillars as you go backwards
Go on, cross the rotunda, and turn left to go up the steps
Go as far up the stairs as the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
(Room 703 - Denon wing - Level 1)
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The monument was found on the island of Samothrace, in the sanctuary of the ‘Great Gods’. The fragments of the statue were initially pieced together forming the monument without its wings. It was years later that the archaeologists realized that the pieces of marble found near the statue had originally formed a ship. And then after a second restoration, it emerged with its base and wings.
Opposite The Winged Victory of Samothrace, turn right and walk between the columns
Look at the frescoes by Botticelli on the walls on your left.
(Room 706 - Denon wing - Level 1)
Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman
This masterpiece decorated the walls of Villa Lemmi, a country villa near Florence owned by Giovanni Tornabuonire. It was discovered in 1873 under a layer of whitewash, was taken from the wall, and placed on a canvas framework.
Go straight on and through the glass door. You will see the Salon Carré
Leave the Salon Carré through the double wooden doors to the right of the windows
In the Grande Galerie, go straight on as far as the white marble columns
You are at the Grande Galerie.
(Room 710 - Denon wing - Level 1)
The walls of the Grande Galerie are covered with masterpieces by the greatest names in Italian painting such as Mantegna, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Arcimboldo, and Caravaggio.
Spend a bit extra time observing:
- Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), The Death of the Virgin (Room 712 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Guido Reni, The Abduction of Helen ( Room 716 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Daniele da Volterra, David and Goliath (Room 712 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Raphael (Raffaello Santi), Balthazar Castiglione (Room 710 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Raphael (Raffaello Santi), The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, known as La Belle Jardinière (Room 710 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of a Lady from the Court of Milan, known as La Belle Ferronnière (Room 710 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Leonardo da Vinci, Saint John the Baptist (Room 710 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
- Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (Room 710 – Grande Galerie, Denon wing, Level 1)
Go straight on
Take the first right
You are into the Mona Lisa room.
(Room 711- Denon wing - Level 1)
One of the most famous and much-discussed exhibits of the museum, is the Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco del Giocondo. The truth is that we ourselves were looking forward to seeing the Mona Lisa up close. Mona Lisa is conserved in the best possible conditions, protected inside a temperature and humidity-controlled glass case. In order to see it up close you have to wait in a queue.
The painting’s special appeal lies in its technical excellence, and the famous smile.
Turn your gaze to the directly opposite wall from the Mona Lisa
You will see the Wedding Feast at Cana.
Wedding Feast at Cana
Almost 70 m², it’s the biggest painting in the Louvre.
The story of the Wedding Feast in Cana reminds us of Christ’s first miracle. He is invited to a wedding supper in Cana, but the wine runs out at the conclusion of the meal. The servants were then told by Jesus to serve the lord of the house after adding water to huge stone jars. He finds the water has changed into wine. On this canvas,132 characters are represented in costumes and in a decoration typical of Italy in the 16th century.
Go behind the Mona Lisa and into the next room
Turn left into a long gallery with red walls
Go up to The Raft of the Medusa.
(Room 700 - Denon wing - Level 1)
The Raft of the Medusa
It depicts the recent sinking of a French ship. On an improvised raft, 150 people floated for 13 days before falling to sickness, starvation, dehydration, and cannibalism. Only fifteen people made it.
The artist, Théodore Géricault, spent eight months creating his painting, visiting morgues and hospitals to watch the dead and dying, developing models, and talking to survivors.
In room 700 also search for The Death of Sardanapalus and Liberty Leading the People both from Eugène Delacroix.
In room 702, you will find The Grande Odalisque and The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of the Empress Joséphine in Notre-Dame Cathedral on 2 December.
Go down the large staircase
Go up to The Rebellious Slave and The Dying Slave in the middle of the room.
(Room 403 - Denon wing - Level 0)
The Rebellious Slave and The Dying Slave
These two statues were made in the early 16th century as a result of a papal order. The Rebellious Slave appears to be struggling with his restraints, while the Dying Slave is depicted in a profound, maybe endless sleep.
Both the Rebellious Slave and the Dying Slave were ultimately left incomplete and out of the final design. However, they are centerpieces of the museum, standing as emblems of Michelangelo’s search for perfect truth in art.
Walk through the room. Before the exit, have a look at the sculpture on the right near the window.
This is the famous Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.
(Room 403 - Denon wing - Level 0)
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
The Italian sculptor Antonio Canova managed to capture the feeling of love in stone.
The story of Cupid and Psyche appears in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC. The main topic of the story is how Psyche and Cupid overcame challenges to fall in love.
Richelieu Wing must-see
The Cour Puget and the Cour Marly
The Cour Puget is named after Pierre Puget, one of the most significant sculptors working during Louis XIV’s reign.
His masterpieces, Perseus and Andromeda and Milo of Croton were both made for the gardens of the Château de Versailles. Milo is a symbol of the defeat of human pride and if you read the story you will understand why.
King Louis XIV had a leisure residence at Marly. The park was decorated with many statues from ancient mythology. The grounds and the Château de Marly exist no longer, but some of the sculptures survived. The most famous sculptures are the Marly Horses.
Statue of the nu-banda Ebih-Il
It belongs to the kind of statues that were placed in temples to preserve an act of devotion to a god. The statue of Ebi-Il dates to about 2500 BC. It represents a male figure with a reverent attitude praying. On his shoulder, there is a dedication to the goddess of love, Ishtar Virile, made by Ebih-Il.
(Room 334 – Richelieu Wing – Level 0)
The code is remarkable since it is among the earliest texts of any size that have been decoded. It dates back to the 18th century BC and was established by Hammurabi, the sixth ruler of Babylon. It is a collection of lines that address illustrative legal topics and serves as a political testament and an example of wisdom and fairness.
(Room 227 – Richelieu Wing – Level 1 – Mésopotamie)
The Grand Salon and the Theatre Salon
Escalier du Ministre, also known as the Minister’s Stairs, is located in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre and goes to the first level, which houses the Napoleon III Apartments. The Grand Salon, also known as the Hall of Peace, is one of the most impressive rooms in the Napoleon Apartments located in the Louvre Museum in Paris. This room was designed to be a place for official receptions during the time of Napoleon III.
The room’s central spherical canapé enables guests to lounge at their leisure. One of the most notable features of the Grand Salon is the large crystal chandelier that hangs in the center of the room.
The Theatre Salon is another remarkable room located within the Napoleon Apartments. The room is lavishly decorated with intricate woodwork, gilded moldings, and beautiful paintings on the ceiling and walls.
(Room 544, Richelieu Wing, Level 1)
Sully wing Wing must-see
Great Sphinx of Tanis
The Great Sphinx of Tanis is a granite sphinx sculpture that can be dated as early as the 26th century BC. Discovered in the ruins of the Temple of Amun-Ra at Tanis, the capital of Egypt. This enormous sphinx is dedicated to the god Amun-Ra. To stop bad spirits from injuring the gods, the statue was placed at the entrance to sacred places.
(Room 348 – Sully wing – Level -1)
The ‘Seated Scribe’
It is one of the most recognizable pieces in the museum, but we’re not sure who it’s supposed to be. The seated figure in this painted limestone sculpture is probably a scribe.
It has a papyrus that has just half been rolled. Its face is presumably the feature of the figure that draws the greatest attention. Its realistic characteristics contrast with the body’s maybe more stiff and somewhat less detailed aspects.
(Room 635 – Sully wing – Level 1)
Opening Hours And Ticket Prices
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am to 9:45 pm
Closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. It remains open on all other public holidays unless they fall on a Tuesday, the museum’s day of closure.
Tickets purchased online: €17
Tickets purchased at the museum: €15
For a group of 7 to 25 people: €70
The museum also offers guided tours and special exhibition tickets, which may have different prices and availability.
How long does it take to visit the Louvre?
The amount of time it takes to visit the Louvre can vary depending on several factors such as personal interests, the time of day, the season, and the type of tour (guided or not).
For a general first visit in order to see the highlights of the museum, we advise you to allocate at least 3-4 hours. This will allow you to see some of the most famous artworks, such as the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Venus de Milo, among others.
For those who want to explore the museum more thoroughly, those who have been there before, or have a special interest in a particular art period or collection, it may take several days to see everything.
In addition, keep in mind that a guided tour will approximately last 2 – 2.30 hours depending on the guide’s tour.
Can i visit the museum for free?
Yes, there are some cases:
– All guests who are under 18 and all inhabitants of the European Economic Area who are between the ages of 18 and 25 (EU, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein)
– Those who possess a current “Pass Education” card
– Teachers of art, art history, and the applied arts (proof of subject taught required)
– Artists connected to the IAA or the Maison des Artistes (in France) (International Association of Art)
– Holders of a valid ICOM or ICOMOS card
– Upon presentation of entitlement documentation, job seekers and recipients of income support
– Visitors with disabilities and the person accompanying them
– The 14th of July is a free day for all visitors (unless it falls on a Tuesday when the museum is closed).
Is it allowed to take photos inside the Louvre?
If they are for personal use, you are permitted to take pictures in the permanent collections. But, you are not permitted to use flash or selfie sticks. It’s possible that you won’t be able to photograph or record some pieces of art in some temporary exhibitions.
Are guided tours worth trying in the Louvre?
Guided tours can be a great way to explore the Louvre Museum, especially for first-time visitors.
They are also beneficial for visitors who may have limited time in the museum, as they can help prioritize which artworks and galleries to focus on.
Furthermore, guided tours can offer skip-the-line access to the museum.
When is the best time to visit the Louvre?
Weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends.
Fridays are generally less crowded as the museum stays open later, and many visitors may opt to visit in the afternoon or evening.
Mornings, especially right when the museum opens at 9:00 am, are also a good time to visit, as there are typically fewer visitors in the galleries, and lines for tickets and entrance are shorter.