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The Louvre: How To Avoid Crowds, Maximize Time Efficiency, And Save Money

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
The Louvre is the most popular and most visited museum in the world. How can you maximize your time and avoid the crowds?


PARIS - About 8 million tourists visit the Louvre each year; at its peak season, the world’s most popular museum can see 30,000 visitors per day. And for good reason.

The Louvre is home to some of the world’s greatest historical artifacts and artistic creations, ranging from ancient Mesopotamian statues, to Renaissance paintings, to modern sculpture. But, as a visitor to these magnificent attractions, it can seem daunting to even get in the door.

So, how can you bypass as many lines as possible, minimize wait time, and see the most artifacts possible in the shortest amount of time?

1. Get There Early
Many tourists in Paris get to the Louvre just after its 9:00 a.m. opening to find a line of more than 500 people waiting to get into the main entrance. Don’t get stuck in that line. Arrive at the Louvre about 45 minutes early and reserve your spot at the front of the line. This will get you to the major attractions first before the crowds develop.

2. Don’t Buy Tickets At The Main Entrance
The main entrance is a bottleneck of people clamoring to buy individual tickets and then move forward to the entrance gate. Don’t buy tickets here unless you’re one of the first people in line.

Buy your tickets at the entrance to the Louvre Museum’s metro stop at the museum gift shop that says “Museum Tickets”. This line is ridiculously short, especially if you get there around 8:30 a.m. You can buy your tickets here and bypass the entire massive line of people waiting to buy tickets at the main entrance. This will save you over an hour of idle time.

3. Don’t Stand In The Wrong Entrance Line
After you buy your tickets at the museum gift shop in the upstairs lobby by the metro stop, you’ll go down the stairs to the famous opposing pyramids and see a huge line for the main entrance. Don’t wait in that line. There’s a separate line for groups and people who already have tickets (like you). There might not even be people in the line, so don’t pass it by. Just walk straight up to the front of the line and be a little pushy.

4. Go Straight To The Mona Lisa
As soon as you enter the museum, hustle to the Mona Lisa. You’ll pass hundreds of other pieces of ancient masterpieces; you’ll get to them later. Make a direct line to the Mona Lisa so you can be one of the first people there. If you wait a half hour, there will be 10,000 people pushing and shoving each other to get a picture of the tiny painting and you won’t stand a chance.

5. Map Out Your Must-See Artifacts
The Louvre is huge. It served as a fortress to French kings beginning in 1202 (you can view the fortress ruins in the Louvre basement) and it served as the royal palace from 1546 to 1678, when King Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles. It was built to be the symbol of French royalty; it’s humongous, it’s hyperbole, it’s just a giant space with a lot of ground to cover.

The entire building is filled with paintings, historical artifacts, statues, fountains, archways, etc. Seeing the entire thing will take you all day, and maybe the next day. So, do your research before you go and pick which pieces you want to see and go to those things. You’ll see plenty of other art and history along the way.

6. Plan Your Route Through The Palace
Once you map out where your must-see artifacts are, plan your route. It’s easy to get lost and turned around inside the museum if you don’t know where you’re going. Plan your route so that you can see the most pieces of art without wasting time lost and wandering.

7. Download The Louvre App
The Louvre has an app; download it. It gives you a 3D map of the museum, GPS of your location within the museum, key information about major pieces of art, and it features a bare-bones audio guide in a few languages. The museum is equipped with free WiFi, so you can link to that and use the app to help guide you.

8. Wear Quality Walking Shoes
It might seem like you’re just strolling through a casual museum, but you’ll probably cover about five miles while walking through the Louvre. Forego your Paris fashion sense for a few hours and wear some quality shoes. You might want to stretch before you start walking, or stop and stretch in between rooms and exhibits.

9. Study Your History Before You Go
Do your research before you visit the Louvre, as all of the museum descriptions are in French. It makes each piece that much cooler if you know the history behind the main ones you want to see. Plus, if you know your history, you won’t have to hire an expensive guided tour through the museum, where you’re waiting for dozens of people to push along.

10. Don’t Take A Guided Tour
This is the easiest way to slow down your efficiency at the Louvre. Sure, you’ll learn a lot, but you’re walking and waiting for 20 other people who ask questions and push in front of you to get the perfect selfie with every single statue. At this rate, you’ll about five things before lunch time. If you did a bit of research beforehand, you’ll know most of the information that the guide will tell you anyways.

11. Don’t Eat At The Louvre Restaurant
The restaurant at the Louvre provides a great view of the glass pyramid, but the food is expensive. Bring your own food in a purse or small daypack and eat on the run so you can maximize your time at the Louvre. Or, eat before you enter the museum, and then grab some food at a nearby restaurant afterwards. Whatever you do, though, don’t get food on the artwork. They frown upon that at the Louvre.

12. Don’t Follow The Crowds
This old symbolic cliche literally applies to your time at the Louvre, and for multiple reasons. People jump into big lines because they assume that if everyone is doing it, it must be the right line. That’s rarely the case when it comes to tourism: no one in the line has ever been to this place before. If you think you’re in an unnecessarily long line, walk to the front and see what the line is actually for. If hundreds of people are looking at one painting, move to another one until the crowd thins out.

13. Get Out Before Noon
People generally tend to sleep in on vacation, which means a majority of people will get a late start to the Louvre. By noon, the crowds at the museum are insane. You’re better off showing up early and leaving early so that you can beat the crowds and get on with exploring the rest of Paris.

14. Take Pictures Early
Since the crowds get thicker as the day goes on, it’s imperative that you take pictures early in your Louvre mission. If you want a picture of the Mona Lisa, make that the first thing you see. If you want a photo of the Venus de Milo, make that the second piece you view, even though it’s on the opposite side of the museum. Otherwise, you’ll have 20 people behind the statue taking selfies.

15. Admission Is Free On The First Sunday Of The Month
Even though the Louvre entrance ticket is relatively cheap (15 Euros), you can save on cost by attending free admission days, which occur on the first Sunday of each month. In fact, all museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month, so plan accordingly and you can save about 100 Euros if you visit some of the most popular attractions throughout the city.

16. Visit The Museum At Night
Usually, the Louvre closes at 6:00 p.m., except on Wednesday and Friday nights, when it’s open until 10:00 p.m. Visit the Louvre at night and you’ll probably find that you have the entire museum to yourself. If you’re not a morning person, get to Louvre on Wednesday around 6:00 p.m. and you can cruise through the old palace at your leisure. Maybe you can even get a coveted, unobstructed selfie with Mona Lisa herself.

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Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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