Anisa in the courtyard of the Louvre.
Anisa in the courtyard of the Louvre.

The Louvre is an art lover’s dream – 652,300 square feet of space filled with nearly 35,000 pieces of art from prehistory to the 21st century. You can never really say you’ve completely explored the Louvre, there is always more to see. It is the world’s most visited museum, receiving more than 9 million visitors in 2014.  I had been twice before (it had been awhile) but I decided to go back again during my last trip to Paris because my boyfriend, Russell, had never been and my appreciation for art has really increased since I have been living in NYC.   

So I mentioned the museum is huge, let me also say it is very confusing and difficult to navigate.  First of all, everything is in French, but the map really isn’t very good either.  There are so many pieces of art and it’s just not feasible to list them all on the map.  I did spend an extra few euros for an audio guide, but this really was a waste of money.  It was larger than any other audio guide I have used and it was supposed to use GPS to help direct you around the museum. Well the GPS was always behind where we were, we ended up relying on the map instead.  I hope they will make some improvements to the audio guide, as it has the potential to be really helpful.

Save time and enter the Louvre by the pyramid inversee
Save time and enter the Louvre by the pyramid inversee

We had a lot planned for our Paris trip so we only allocated three hours for the Louvre.  I knew this would be challenging, so we made a list beforehand of the key pieces of art we wanted to make sure that we saw.  This was critical! Even if you have more time, I think you really should make a list of the pieces you must see, otherwise, with the size of the museum, you will miss them.  I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few Lourve tips and tricks along with a few of my favorite pieces, which you might like to add to your list

#1 Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci

These days no visit to the Louvre is complete without taking a selfie with Mona Lisa.  Just remember that selfie sticks are not allowed!  You will see signs guiding you to La Joconde, which is the French name of the painting, in room 6.  Everyone always says that the painting is smaller than expected, so try to manage your expectations.  Also, look at the painting from different parts of the room and notice how her eyes follow you. Then take a selfie!  

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

#2 Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova

I love the story behind this sculpture.  Psyche gave into to her curiosity but Cupid’s love is able to revive her.  The artist does an amazing job of capturing the emotion and passion of the story.  If you walk to the back side of the sculpture you will see the flask that Psyche couldn’t help but open.

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
View of Psyche and Cupid from the back
View of Psyche and Cupid from the back

#3 Napoleon’s Apartments

The Louvre was originally a palace before Louis XIV decided it was not big enough and built the palace at Versailles.  It’s fascinating to see the section of the Louvre set up like Napoleon’s apartments.  The chandeliers definitely stand out and demonstrate the opulence of the apartments.  You will also see paintings of Napoleon and his wife Josephine.  I also thought the formal dining room was really impressive!

The formal dining area in Napoleon's Apartments.
The formal dining area in Napoleon’s Apartments.

 

#4 Winged Victory by Pythokritos of Lindos   

This is a sculpture of the Greek goddess, Nike, who is the goddess of Victory, and was estimated to have been made around 200 BC.  The statue was renovated in 2013 where some gaps in the marble were repaired.  Additionally, the marble was cleaned and restored to its original color.  Let me just say this statue is absolutely stunning, especially after the restoration.  It doesn’t matter that pieces have broken off and never been found.  I will also say that the museum does a great job showcasing the piece in the marble Daru stairway. 

Winged Victory
Winged Victory

 

#5 Marly Horses by Guillaume Coustou the Elder

There are four very impressive horse sculptures in the Marly courtyard, and again I think the museum really did a great job showcases these pieces.  The white room with the natural lighting is stunning.  The artist really brought life to the sculptures and captured the moment.  Wherever you stand in the room, the movement, strength, and violent struggle is evident, thanks to the details in the artwork.

One of the Marly Horses.
One of the Marly Horses.
Another Marly Horse
Another Marly Horse

Also, for those Da Vinci Code fans out there, you should look for the painting Madonna of the Rocks in the main gallery (we had a little trouble finding it) and try to find some of the Arago medallions (markers on the old Paris Meridian Line).  We found the one that is in the passageway from the Louvre to the courtyard and two in the courtyard.

You should also spend some time outside the museum in the courtyard.  I really like the pyramids.  Although the pyramids are modern, I think they really compliment the architecture of the Louvre. If you are wanting a fun picture, you can stand on one of the blocks and make it look like your finger is on top of the pyramid.

Have you been to the Louvre? I would love to hear about your favorite Louvre art pieces.

-Anisa

 

Expert Tips For Your Visit to the Louvre:

  • Have a game plan of what you want to see before you visit the Louvre, it’s not possible to see everything.
  • Save time by entering the museum through the shopping center (Carrousel du Louvre) by the pyramid inversee.  The line outside is usually much longer.
  • Get to the Louvre early and head straight toward the #1 piece of your list to see if before it gets too crowded.
  • Don’t waste money on the audio guide, try a mobile app instead.

 

weekend travel inspiration

Oui In France
My 5 Favorite Pieces in the Louvre
My 5 favorite pieces in the Louvre Museum in Paris and some helpful tips to help you plan your own visit. | Art Museum | France
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16 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Pieces in the Louvre

  • Wow, i have to wonder how you managed to see medallions on the ground or get such a good photo of the Mona Lisa. the day we were there the throngs were much to big to do either! So good for you! you either had good timing or are more intrepid than we are! thanks for joining #Wkendtravelinspiration

  • I agree, you need a game plan in the Louvre, it is that big. Like you, I went to see some specific pieces, got photobombed by Mona, and got totally lost trying to follow the “Sortie” signs to get out.

  • Having a game plan is essential! Winged Victory and Leonardo’s La Joconde were on our must-see list too. We also added works by the other Ninja Turtles (Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello) as a joke because a couple of our grown kids had once adored them.

    I’d like to recommend that anyone who wishes to visit should pre-purchase tickets so as to avoid wasting valuable time in the queue. We were happy our Paris Pass allowed us to do that because by the time we had arrived, the ticket line had already snaked its way all around the enormous building.

  • There are some of these that I wasn’t able to see during my visit. Like you said, the museum is so big that you have to plan what you want to see in advance. Then, during the time I visited, there was a bomb threat and half of the museum was closed. So, that narrowed the exhibits we wanted to visit. At least, I saw the Mona Lisa.

    1. Ruth – thanks for your comment. I can’t even imagine the chaos that the bomb threat caused. I’m glad you were at least able to see the Mona Lisa.

  • Impressed that you narrowed it down to 5! I love the sculptures. They convey the most emotion I think. The large tapestries are all very impressive…. their scale and fine detail are amazing.

    1. Lillian – Thank you, yes it wasn’t easy. So many great pieces of art there and yes agree the tapestries are impressive.

    1. Thanks Molly. Always good to come across another Texan. Yes Winged Victory is amazing. Especially the way it is presented in the Louvre by the staircase.

  • It’s more than 20 years since I was last there, so thanks for this taster of some of the wonderful things to be seen in the Louvre. La Joconde was evacuated, along with a number of other works of art, during World War II. First to the Loire; then to an abbey close to where we live in SW France; finally to the Musée Ingres in Montauban, where it saw out the rest of the war. I never saw the Napoleon apartments on previous visits, so that’s on my bucket list now. 🙂

    1. Thanks Vanessa. Yes it sounds like you are overdue for return visit. Glad I could suggest something new for you to see. And thanks for sharing additional information about Mona Lisa.

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