One of the world’s most impressive museums, the Louvre contains some 35,000 priceless objects. Built as a fortress by King Philippe-Auguste in 1190, Charles V (1364–80) was the first king to make it his home. In the 16th century François I replaced it with a Renaissance-style palace and founded the royal art collection with 12 paintings from Italy. Revolutionaries opened the collection to the public in 1793. Shortly after, Napoleon renovated the Louvre as a museum.

Gallery Guide

The foyer is under the pyramid. Visitors who have tickets enter here or off the rue de Rivoli (passage Richelieu). Alternatively, buy tickets at the Carrousel du Louvre entrance (99 rue de Rivoli) and Porte des Lions. The Sully, Denon and Richelieu wings lead off from the foyer. Painting and sculpture are displayed by country, plus galleries for objets d’art, antiquities, prints and drawings. Don’t miss the temporary shows, contemporary and tribal art (Pavilion des Sessions, Denon).

Musée du Louvre façade

Try out Le Café Marly in the Richelieu Wing or the food court in Carrousel du Louvre. For a special option make a reservation at the Grand Louvre restaurant below the pyramid.

Beat the queues and buy tickets online or at machine kiosks at the Porte des Lions entrance at the west end of the Denon WIng (except Friday).

Top 10 Sights
  1. Venus de Milo

    The positioning of this statue (unless moved for renovation), dramatically lit at the end of a hallway, enhances its beauty. It dates from the end of the 2nd century BC and was discovered on the Greek island of Milos in 1820.

  2. Mona Lisa

    Arguably the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo’s portrait of the woman with the enigmatic smile (see Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa) has been beautifully restored. Visit early or late in the day.

  3. Glass Pyramid

    The unmistakable pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei, became the Louvre’s new entrance in 1989. Stainless steel tubes form the 21-m-high (69-ft) frame.

  4. Marly Horses

    Coustou’s rearing horses being restrained by horse-tamers were sculpted in 1745 for Louis XIV’s Château de Marly. Replicas stand near the Place de la Concorde.

  5. The Raft of the Medusa

    A shipwreck three years earlier inspired this early Romantic painting by Théodore Géricault (1791–1824) in 1819. The work depicts a moment when the survivors spot a sail on the horizon.

  6. The Winged Victory of Samothrace

    This Hellenistic treasure (3rd–2nd century BC) stands atop a stone ship radiating grace and power. It commemorates a naval triumph at Rhodes.

  7. The Lacemaker

    Jan Vermeer’s masterpiece, painted around 1665 gives a simple but beautiful rendering of everyday life and is the highlight of the Louvre’s Dutch collection.

  8. Slaves

    Michelangelo sculpted these two slaves (1513–20) for the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome. The unfinished figures seem to be emerging from their “prisons” of stone.

  9. Medieval Moats

    An excavation in the 1980s uncovered the remains of the medieval fortress. You can see the base of the towers and the drawbridge support.

  10. Perrault’s Colonnade

    The majestic east façade by Claude Perrault (1613– 88), with its columns, was part of an extension plan commissioned by Louis XIV.

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