The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, housing the most famous painting on this planet – the Mona Lisa, averaging 8 million visitors per year! The former royal palace is also one of the world’s largest museum, with three wings, Denon, Sully and Richelieu, displaying more than 35,000 pieces of artwork. The artworks include antiquities, sculptures, paintings, decorative arts from different eras and origins, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Near Eastern and Egyptian.
Tourists flock to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, which are the obvious exhibits at the Louvre. Me too. Other than that, it’s not easy to identify other key masterpieces to see out of 35,000 pieces of exhibits. A good, easy and strategic way to visit the Louvre would be to make use of the free map provided.
Below are a few major pieces of work highlighted by the map.
The medieval section of the Louvre, lower ground floor (-1 level), Sully Wing. In the 12th century, the Louvre was originally constructed as a fortress. Today, you still see the remains of the medieval tunnels.
The Great Sphinx of Tanis – ground floor (level 0), Sully Wing. First discovered in 1825 in Tanis in Egypt. It is believed to be from 2600 BC, which is 4600 years ago! It is still so amazingly kept, just with bits of its forelimbs lost.
Venus de Milo, ground floor (floor 0), Sully Wing. Venus de Milo is iconic for the lost of her two arms, which makes her identity a mystery. She could be Amphitrite, the sea goddess, whom is often portrayed as half-naked. Or she could be Venus/Aphrodite, the goddess of love. You get a glimpse of Greek’s idea of beauty here.
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, ground floor (level 0), Denon Wing. Venus, Cupid’s mother, is jealous of Psyche’s beauty and manipulated Psyche into collecting a flask from the underworld. Psyche curiously opened the flask and inhaled the poisonous fumes and rendered her unconscious. Cupid, who is in love with Psyche, comes to the rescue, embracing Psyche gently, kissing her. The sculpture depicts a romantic moment in Greek legend.
Mona Lisa (La Jocund in French), first floor (level 1), Denon Wing. Finally, I get to see the most famous painting on this planet in person! It is also the most guarded piece of work in the Louvre. Not only does it have guards surrounding it, notice that it sits behind bullet proof glass. I was a little disappointed to see the painting because it was much smaller than I expected – maybe the size of 4 pieces of A4 paper?
The Wedding Feast at Cana, first floor, Denon Wing. The painting is in the same room as the Mona Lisa, weighing 1.5 tons, occupying an enormous space on the wall. The painting depicts a story from the Christian New Testament, where Jesus performed his first miracle – by turning water into wine in a wedding feast.
The Coronation of Napoleon I, first floor, Denon Wing. A majestic historical moment documented by painting. Another grand piece of work occupying one full wall, and it’s the center of attention in the room.
Napoleon III’s Apartment, first floor, Richelieu Wing. A lavish display of Napoleon’s living style. I must say, the notion of ‘bling bling” existed way before our time, and Napoleon III is definitely the pioneer of bling bling! The deep enchanting maroon with golden walls all seem to glisten even more underneath the sparkling chandeliers.
Gabrielle Estree and One of Her Sisters, 2nd floor, Richelieu Wing. Gabrielle (the one being pinched), is one of Henry IV’s many mistresses. The painting suggests her possible pregnancy.
3 days is not enough to cover the Louvre in detail. I saw some college kids, leisurely taking their own sweet time, sitting in front of each painting, listening to the audio guide. How I wished I had the luxury of doing that! But then again, I wouldn’t want to do the Louvre 3 days straight. We spent about 4 hours at the Louvre and we already felt information overload. There was so much we didn’t cover at the Louvre, but knowing selective works from the Louvre is good enough for me for now 🙂
Tel: +331 4020 5050
Getting there: Palais Royal Musee du Louvre Metro Station
Admission Fee : 10 Euros.
Opening Hours: Wed to Mon – 9am to 6pm. Late Opening till 9.45pm on Wed and Fri. Closed on Tuesdays.
Inclusive in Paris museum pass: Yes.