9 Reasons to Skip the Louvre in Paris

Posted by Brette in Travel
Glass pyramid

Glass pyramid

The Louvre was high on our list of things to do in Paris. I was looking forward to seeing the glass pyramid and the Mona Lisa, with a few other things. If you’ve seen or read The Da Vinci Code you’ve already imagined yourself there. It’s a must-see. Or is it? Although I don’t regret going, I’m not absolutely certain it was worth the trouble.


Winged Victory (the basis of the Nike swoosh)

1. Ticketing is confusing. Everything I read said I had to buy my tickets in advance or I could stand in line all day. In reality, the lines really weren’t that long. We had purchased passes online and didn’t have to wait in line but if we had it really would not have been a big deal.

2. The glass pyramid is freaking hot. In August, it was a truly uncomfortable way to enter the museum and not a great place to stand in line. If you want to see it, walk past it. It’s just the ceiling to a basement from inside.

3. Hard to get to. Although we did the Paris Metro to work quite well for us most of the time, there is no stop really close to the entrance of the Louvre.

4. Too much security. The Louvre has numerous wings. And you must go through separate security and show your ticket for each one, as well as when you come in the main entrance. More lines than I want to deal with.

5. Too many people. Usually I am prepared to deal with crowds when there is something I want to see. The crowds at the Louvre are beyond ridiculous. If you want to see Winged Victory (this with the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo are the top three attractions), you have to shove your way through crowds on a steep staircase. If you pause to take a photo, there’s a good chance someone will shove you and you’ll topple down the marble stairs.  The 224-DSCN0940Mona Lisa is impossible to get near unless you prepared to just push your way forward through a room that is wall to wall bodies. The sheer number of people all trying to get to the same place you’re going makes it an unpleasant experience.

6. Pickpockets. Although we fortunately were not affected, the Louvre is supposed to be one of the worst places for pickpockets. The sheer volume of people and the closeness of other bodies makes it a danger zone. Therefore, I was paranoid the entire time and it’s hard to relax and enjoy yourself when you feel as if you’re going to be robbed at any moment. One of the room monitors (not sure if these folks are technically security guards?) shouted at my daughter when she walked by with part of her purse partially unzipped (there was nothing of value in it and we would have appreciated the warning had the woman not appeared angry with us!).

7. Terrible signage. We had a map. I had read in advance about how best to navigate from one thing to the next. We still got lost. Over and over. Since everyone in the damn place is there to see the Mona Lisa you would think they might have a sign pointing to the entrance to the room. It was difficult to navigate every step of the way.

8. It is gigantic. And nothing you want to see is near anything else. We went to almost every wing to see the 4 things we were there to see (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and Napoleon III’s apartments). Wear athletic shoes and be prepared to go up and down a lot of stairs. It takes

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

much longer than you anticipate to walk anywhere and it’s never a straight shot. There are twists and turns and unexpected staircases. And there is always a tour group walking slowly in front of you.

9. There are other amazing place in Paris that have none of these problems. High on my list of recommendations is Musee de l’Orangerie. This wonderful museum is in the corner of the Tuileries, has absolutely no crowds, is small, and has two gigantic rooms of HUGE Monet paintings that cover the entire walls. You can get up close and

Inside Napoleon III's apartment: the photo that made the trip to the Louvre worthwhile after all

Inside Napoleon III’s apartment: the photo that made the trip to the Louvre worthwhile after all

personal with them. I would pick that any day over the Louvre.


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5 Responses

  • Sometimes these “big” sites are really overrated. Thanks for this post.

  • I would argue that the Louvre is not overrated, but it contains a universe and you need to decide and plan for what you are interested in. No one will love every aspect.
    The major museums of the world all merit much more than one half day, which is usually the max anyone allows for them. (including me).
    I love getting lost in big museums, and stay away from the “big deal” items, instead discovering things that are new to me and that I can enjoy without the mobs.
    The line when we went to the Louvre was extremely long–and it was raining. Had I planned better, I could have bought a museum pass at the tiny Delacourt museum near our apt.
    We walked there (and to several other museums) from our apt. Weren’t you staying in mid Paris?
    I also love the Orangerie, even though I had seen some of the Lily Pond paintings on tour, everything in that little museum is fascinating.

  • In my opinion, when you go to a huge museum you have to decide ahead of time which of the many exhibits you’ll see. It’s impossible to see more than a few at a time. Personally, I’d go for a couple of exhibits and then leave and include lots of other small museums as well.

  • The Musee de l’Orangerie would definitely be to my liking – I love Monet and the lack of crowds sounds wonderful.

  • should you visit Paris again and want to brave the Louvre again, you might try going in the evening when it’s usually — just a bit — less crowded.

    I tend to prefer out of the way places and less visited sections when I’m in a museum that has items which attract such crowds — but then again, iconic works of are a part of history and culture, meant to be experienced.
    and this post finds you making goo use of the challenges of your visit.