The Louvre – A few tips on how to visit the museum

Louvre Pyramid

It’s Bastille Day in France and the entrance to the Louvre is exceptionally free to celebrate. Today also marks the reopening of the Islamic Art gallery after this spring’s floods. The Louvre is the subject of popular posts on my blog: the Napoleon III rooms and the Ancient Egypt mummies still figure among my most-read posts years after I wrote them. So I thought I’d round up a few pieces of advice for your next visit.

Louvre Victoire de Samothrace

Is the Louvre the right museum for you? Make sure the kind of art you want to see can indeed be viewed at the Louvre. Its collections cover art until 1848. If your thing is Impressionism, head to Musée d’Orsay (which I much prefer, by the way). Likewise, if you like Modern art only, you will need to explore other options.

Watch out for free entrance days. If you can, visit on one of the 1st Sundays of the month when the entrance is free (October to March). Otherwise, tickets are at 15€.

Arrive early in the morning. I waited about 30 minutes before entering, which is reasonable. When I glimpsed outside later in the day, I saw the lines had extended far beyond what I had expected.

Louvre Baigneuse Valpincon IngresLouvre Lady in BlueLouvre Girl in pink

Prepare your itinerary and target only a few galleries to visit. The Louvre is HUGE and you won’t be able to see it all within 1 day. (You probably gathered from the pictures above that I am a 19th-century fangirl.)

Wear comfortable shoes. See above: the Louvre is huge and you will be walking for hours.

Louvre Joconde Mona Lisa

Be prepared to fight your way to see Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is no doubt a masterpiece, but do not expect a life-changing experience when viewing it. The painting is kept under a glass case. Visitors are kept at a distance with a cord. Dozens of people try to catch a decent glimpse, picture or selfie while security guards loudly chat about what they did the night before. In short, there is no way you can truly appreciate the painting in these conditions.


Louvre AngelinaLouvre Angelina cakes

Lunch! I enjoyed lunch at Angelina. Their restaurant is within the museum, a short walk from Napoléon III’s apartments. Yes, it is a bit pricey but it has a view on the Pyramid. And if your entrance to the Louvre was free, well, I believe that you can treat yourself to balance things out. Otherwise, there are lunch options underneath the Pyramid but they were less attractive. The choice was limited to a windowless cafeteria or a Paul with very few seats.

View from Louvre on Pyramid

Look out for stunning views of Paris. Don’t just look at the art.

Louvre Objets d'art 1Louvre Objets d'art 2

If you do not have the time to visit Versailles, visit the Department of Decorative Arts. The rooms hold collections similar to what you would see in the palace outside Paris. While beautiful, it does not have the same emotional dimension as if you where really in Versailles though.

Louvre Pavillon de l'Horloge

Check out the history of the Louvre. While you may not choose to visit the newly-organized Pavillon de l’Horloge, where you can learn all about the history of the palace, it would be a shame not to look it up. The Louvre was the home of the Kings of France up until Louis XIV lived in Versailles. You can still see the medieval part of the building, which is quite impressive.

Louvre Flamands

Enjoy your visit! If you have other advice on how to best visit the Louvre, I would love to hear about it.

The Chaumet salons on place Vendôme

Chaumet salons place Vendôme chimney

Before visiting the Louis Vuitton workshop, I had the chance to spend time in the Chaumet salons. Located on iconic place Vendôme across from the Ritz, they were exceptionally open to the public for LVMH’s Journées Particulières. The place represents the high-jewlery brand well: it is as exquisite, refined and full of history.

Avant de visiter les ateliers Louis Vuitton d’Asnières, j’ai eu la chance d’admirer les salons Chaumet situés place Vendôme à l’occasion des Journées Particulières de LVMH. Le lieu est à l’image de la marque : raffiné et riche d’une belle histoire.

Chaumet entrance

As mentioned by the sign at the entrance, one of my favorite composers Frédéric Chopin died in the mansion. When we entered the main room, I was at first taken aback by its beauty. It reminded me of Versailles by its gold decoration and paintings, not to mention the lovely chimney, the sophisticated wooden floor and the view on place Vendôme. I got even more emotional when I learned that Chopin was a guest of the Polish countess who owned the mansion and gave her piano lessons in this very room. He was invited to work on his compositions there and died of tuberculosis at the age of 39.

La plaque à l’entrée mentionne que Frédéric Chopin est décédé dans l’hôtel particulier abritant les salons. En entrant dans la pièce principale, j’ai été époustouflée par sa beauté. Elle me rappelait Versailles avec son style, son ornementation dorée et ses peintures. Et quelle cheminée, quel parquet et quelle vue sur la place Vendôme ! Mon émotion allait croissante quand j’appris que mon compositeur préféré donnait des cours de piano dans cette pièce-même à la comtesse polonaise qui y séjournait. Il y travaillait par ailleurs sur ses compositions et succomba à la tuberculose à l’âge de 39 ans.

Chaumet salons place Vendôme

Chaumet salons place Vendôme floor

Chaumet salons place Vendôme ceiling

Chaumet salons place Vendôme window

Our visit was of course mainly dedicated to learning about Chaumet, its history and the craftsmanship behind the brand. We were shown sketches of the designs and guided through the process of creating jewelry pieces; it was fascinating to hear it directly from one of the most experienced jewelers of the house. A room exhibited tiaras, both models and the real ones, with iconic pieces that you can view on the Chaumet website. My favorite is the one with the wheat motif, as it really looks like they are rustling in the wind.

Notre visite était bien sûr principalement dédiée à la maison Chaumet, son histoire et son savoir-faire. Le personnel nous a guidés à travers les dessins de pièces de haute-joaillerie et le processus de création. Cela était fascinant d’entendre un des joaillers les plus expérimentés parler de l’apprentissage et des défis de son métier dans un salon où un atelier avait été reconstitué. Une autre pièce exposait les pièces iconiques de la maison, que vous pouvez voir sur le site de Chaumet. Le diadème aux épis de blé m’a particulièrement touché par son caractère à la fois naturel et sophistiqué, comme s’ils étaient animés par le vent.

Chaumet sketch

Chaumet tiaras

The salons are very rarely open to the public, hence the exceptional character of the event. The Chaumet boutique on place Vendôme however regularly holds exhibitions mixing new and historical pieces. The staff is always very welcoming, passionate about the brand and happy to guide people along so I would recommend it as a place to see in Paris.

Les salons sont très rarement ouverts au public, d’où le caractère exceptionnel de l’événement. La boutique Chaumet organise cependant régulièrement des expositions mêlant nouvelles créations et pièces historiques. Le personnel, toujours très accueillant, sait véritablement transmettre sa passion en guidant les visiteurs. N’hésitez pas à aller admirer ces collections si vous êtes de passage !