My advice? Stay away from the Louvre in Paris.

When we were in Paris last month, I absolutely could not believe how many people were at the Louvre. Even in the rain, the line to buy tickets was a THREE HOUR wait. In the rain.

rainy louvre

Since we bought tickets in advance, we only had to wait half an hour. Only.

If we hadn’t already paid, there is just no way we would have waded through this hot mess of people. But since we had already plunked down the cash, we dove in with both feet. The craziest part was this:

mona lisa louvre

Other parts of the museum were equally as crowded. It felt like being on a packed subway car. Not relaxing, and not something I would choose to do again.

However, this was in direct contrast to the lovely Rodin museum. Here, they limit the number of guests. Once the museum reaches maximum capacity, they will only allow new visitors once others have left.

The wait (for us) was not very long – maybe twenty minutes.

It’s wonderful. The museum also includes a gorgeous garden, which is sprinkled with masterpieces such as The Thinker.

thinker rodin

There are zero crowds. This is about as packed as it gets:

rodinI also love that the museum is housed in the beautiful Hotel Biron, which is a work of art in itself.

So, my advice: if you don’t like crowds and long waits, skip the Louvre. Find another museum that is a little off the beaten path. For us, this was so worth it.

What are your favorite museums in Paris? Any recommendations? I’d love to start a list for next time!

 

Comments

  1. Just wondering what day of the week and time of day you went? Also I think you went in July or August?

    • Points Pixie says:

      DaninMCI – Yes! We did go in August, so that was definitely one of the contributing factors to the insane crowds. We went on a Monday morning.

  2. I agreed, it was still just as crowded in May.

  3. I was there in August and did not even attempt to go. Oh well! There goes Mona Lisa. I still think the trip is not complete unless you pay your respects to the painting. I heard best time is very early in the morning or one hour before closing and of course not in summer. Any way I am not complaining as there was so much else to see

    • Points Pixie says:

      caveman – Yes, SO much else to see. I think we would not have even tried to go if our kids hadn’t really wanted to. The Louvre is so iconic that it gets the most attention, but honestly I think I prefer smaller venues 🙂

  4. Thank you for all these great Paris posts! I’m saving up my points and am booking a ticket for sometime in spring so it’s been great to get all of your advice on what to do – and where to avoid! I definitely think I’ll skip the Louvre now.

    Also, it’s been fun reading about your trip to Japan. I used to live in Osaka so it’s a bit nostalgic to see posts on areas nearby (Kyoto, Nara, etc.)

  5. The Louvre is a HUGE museum. Of the times I’ve visited (been there 4 times), I always went first thing in the morning at 9am when it opened and when the crowds were minimal.
    I hope you were able to see The Code of Hammurabi, which I think is more important than the Mona Lisa. That are of the Louvre rarely gets crowds.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Joey – Sadly, on the day we went, the entire museum was PACKED. Every inch. We literally could not press through the crowds in some areas. By the time we had struggled through 3/4 of the rooms, we were done…and we didn’t get to the Code of Hammurabi. 🙁

  6. We had no issues early last July. I think it was on a Wednesday night. Many of the pieces , like the Hammurabi’s code and the Venus di Milo, had very people around them.

  7. Ric Garrido says:

    There have been many news articles this summer about crowded art museums.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/arts/design/european-museums-straining-under-weight-of-popularity.html?_r=0

  8. Tip: If you can handle a super early or late dinner, go on a Wednesday or Friday evening when they’re open until 9:30 pm. Most people are gone for dinner, so I was able to waltz right up to the Mona Lisa. Not a terribly long line either, and if you’re under 26, you get in for free!

  9. You simply *must* visit the Musée d’Orsay next time. It’s a fantastic place with some big ticket pieces – plus a treat in the cafe upstairs inside the clock face makes all the viewing even better.

    Sorry you had bad luck with the Lourve – we went the 2nd week of December and I don’t remember it being bad at all.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Ann – Rats! We didn’t go to the Musee d’Orsay. And yes – the last time I went to the Louvre, it was November, and it was fine. Although that was 15 years ago…

  10. Another tip, if you have the time in Paris is the Museum Pass. I walked right in to the Louvre thru the groups entrance, the Museum Pass allows many line skipping opportunities. We did so at the Rodin and Saint Chappelle among other museums. And if your “child” is under 18, they can accompany you in line skipping as they have free admittance anyway. Purchase the Pass at the airport and validate it when you are ready to begin your museum experiences.

  11. Kendra,

    So sorry you had this experience. I think Europe is getting more and more crowded during the months June-August since more people can afford to go. I paid almost as much for airfare in 1982 when I cycled through the French Alps as I would pay now to do the same flights.

    I’d been as a college student in July 1970 and didn’t appreciate art so took up Art History the next 2 semesters, so something good came out of that trip. Europe didn’t have throngs of tourists back in those day, but it was a time when my generation, then students, started to travel to Europe. Of course, I can’t remember how crowded the Louvre was way back them. 🙂

    My husband’s and my first trip together to Paris was in Sept. 1989 – not too bad in the Louvre. We returned in May 1999 and it was quite crowded – line to get in was long, but we had passes to get in the side entrance when Louvre opened. Still crowded, but somewhat manageable. Glad we went to Paris when we did, and probably not going back anytime soon. But if you missed the Musee d’Orsay, then you really missed a treasure.

    Have found that the best time to be in Europe if you are visiting cities, with reasonable weather and fewer crowds, is around Thanksgiving. Airfares are cheaper (if you have to pay for tix), hotels are cheaper, and there are fewer crowds. Have been to Florence, Berlin, London (twice), and Malta, plus a Med cruise from Rome to Barcelona (16 days traveling, only 1 day of rain). April is also nice, and the daylight is longer. Or choose places that are emerging and not mainstream destinations yet – we did trips in May and/or June to a number of places that were just starting to get popular when we went- Belgium’s Flanders region, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Scotland, Athens, Istanbul.

    Or, even better, get out of the big cities – there is so much to see and discover in Europe. Even if you stay in a city, you can do wonderful day trips.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Marilyn B – These tips are fantastic! Your comment is like a short blog post. 🙂 Thank you – VERY helpful!

  12. Nick Summy says:

    Unfortunately you entered the busiest entrance. A little googling will show you other “hidden” entrances that are far less crowded. That said, I did use the pyramid entrance when I went on a Sunday afternoon at the beginning of April and waited maybe 10 minutes to get in.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Nick Summy – The wait wasn’t really the problem, it was the crowds inside that really made it not-so-fun.

  13. I’m loving how drawn out this single trip has become with 1000 trip report posts. I’m making a bet with myself to see how many more you can possibly do

    • Points Pixie says:

      Tyler – Yeah, maybe it’s time to spice things up with a few credit card posts. 😉

    • I hope there are more posts that are coming to the blog!

      P&PD is one of the few current bloggers that I feel understands and “gets” Paris.

      I am very much enjoying her posts…even the one about PHV. LOL

      It makes a difference when the blogger understands the culture, city, and country of which one is visiting.

      I truly enjoy hearing of other’s persceptives in such a way when I know that they are a fellow francophile too!!! 🙂

  14. Respectfully, advising your readers to skip arguably one of the finest collections of world culture anywhere is the dumbest, most asinine thing I’ve read on a blog. And that’s a low bar. How about focusing on when to go instead of whining that you went on the wrong day at the wrong time in the freaking summer when it was raining (people looking for indoor attractions)? Sorry for the rant. You seem nice but this was a post that should have stayed in draft mode.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Jason – I have confidence in my readers! Hopefully people can draw their own conclusions and make their own choices based on all of the available info. My perspective is just that…my perspective. 😉

    • Jason,

      I spent a year at a French University. I studied French for 8 years. I have a degree in the French language. My favorite sculpture is in this musuem.

      And ***I*** tell people to skip the Louvre.

      Points and Pixie Dust is one of the few current bloggers with posts about Paris that acutally understands and “gets” Paris. One can tell the difference!

      Unless you are planning to come back to Paris or it is a lifelong dream to see a particular piece of artwork at this chateaux…then skip it. Go to the bookstore, buy a book on the collection, then go to another musueum.

      Go to Marmottan. Or how about Louvre part 2, as I call it (LOL, there’s an annex to the Louvre about an hour away). Pick up Pariscope and discover all the plentitude of museums to visit!

      If your time is limited in Paris, and since there is only so many hours in a day…skipping the Louvre is a very smart, educated, resourceful thing to do.

      I argue that many of you that managed to go to the Louvre saw a bunch of artwork without really seeing it; how many nuances escaped your thoughts? How many of you understand timeframes of history in which the artwork was created- and the influence of that era upon it? How many of you understand concept and theme of the artists’ visions? How many of you took the time to contemplate how one piece of work changed history, or the controversy surrounding the ownership of the Louvre for several of the pieces? One can spend a lifetime at the Louvre and only grasp the depth of a handful of art pieces.

      I once spent 5 hours at the Louvre studying a small list of 20 art pieces. 5 hours for 20 works of art!!! It is that intense of a museum, and yes, it requires that kind of dedication.

      So please, if it is crowded…and your time is limited in Paris…and you feel overwhelmed and stressed…skip the Louvre. Instead, have a picnic in the Luxembourg gardens followed by a visit to the Cluny musuem. You’ll enjoy Paris better this way. 🙂

  15. We also have two kids and booked a private tour with Paris Muse to see the Louvre and found the money well spent. The guide Emma was outstanding with kids, had wonderful knowledge about the art and knew the practicalities of the Louvre. We had no problems with crowds at any point – entering, exiting, viewing works (only the Mona Lisa was busy), or with finding relatively quiet bathrooms. She had fun stories and details that interested kids, like some of the rules in The Code of Hammurabi that pertained to girls and boys. My son is obsessed with Greek mythology and she integrated that interest into the works very well. It was my third trip to the Louvre, and I confess the first I really enjoyed. Of course we saw a tiny fraction of the Louvre, but the fraction we saw was stunning.

    Admittedly the tour was expensive, but it was really worth it. At least the flight was free!

    • Points Pixie says:

      sfmom – What an interesting tip. I’ve never heard of Paris Muse before. I checked out their site, and yikes! Definitely expensive. But I agree – our flights are free, so once we get there, a few splurges are possible. So glad you found such a good one!

  16. That’s how I felt about the Vatican. We went the first week of June. It was so packed it was unbearable. So disappointing.

  17. We used one of the museum passes and got into the museum very quickly (August 2012), there is also less-known entry through the mall nearby which has even less crowds.

    Agree with previous commenter about Musee d’Orsay – must, must, must. The greatest collection of impressionist paintings, strikingly beautiful building and amazing view from the rooftop deck.

  18. Museum Pass is a MUST. Skip the lines thru separate side entrance. And the Orsay is very good that I recall also gets preferred entry.

  19. Agree with previous comments about the Musee D’Orsay, wonderful. Had a similar experience to yours not at the Louvre, but at Versailles. Hot, crowded, and people that would have benefitted from bathing/ deodorant usage!

  20. Next time get the metro/subway and get off at the louvre station. Don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 15 minutes going through that entrance.

    Paris is probably one of my least favorite western european cities though.

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