There’s so much more to the Louvre than that Mona Lisa enigmatic smile. Turned over to culture vultures during the French Revolution, this palace of kings is a jumble of venerable galleries, underground chambers and gilded ballrooms. You won’t see it all in one day, so pace yourself – this is one must-see sight in Paris worth coming back for.
Powerful hip-hop duo Beyoncé and Jay Z caused a storm on social media after shooting their latest music video in the Louvre. Follow Queen Bey’s footsteps on this trail, sweeping from the marbled grandeur of the Winged Victory of Samothrace to Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s arresting Portrait of a Black Woman.
These rooms’ iconic wine-red walls make a striking backdrop for monumental paintings depicting key moments in France’s tumultuous history. Napoleon brandishing a crown for his Empress Joséphine, Liberty scaling barricades, the plight of the Raft of the Medusa – it’s all there, in glorious larger-than-life detail.
Pei’s triumphant Pyramid hints at the Louvre’s unsurpassed treasure trove of Egyptian wonders. Thousands of artefacts are on display in the Sully Wing’s 35 rooms, among them eye-catching sphinxes, pristine sarcophagi and a colossal statue of Rameses II. Don’t miss the Osiris trail offering clues to the beliefs of Ancient Egyptians.
Join health-conscious Parisians at this charming little take-away window. Almost everything is some combination of raw, vegan and gluten-free, with particularly enticing desserts. Perfect for a picnic in the nearby Palais Royal gardens.
Amorino’s hand-sculpted gelatos are pretty as a petal – and just the thing to revive retired culture vultures. If the notoriously long queue in the garden gets overwhelming, hop across to the Left Bank for one of Grom’s all-natural numbers.
Maison Kitsuné’s hip coffee shop rustles up beautiful patisseries and picture-perfect matcha lattes. The interior’s titchy, though; if there’s no room on the terrace grab your order to go and wander down the Galerie de Montpensier’s elegant arcades.
There’s no play or activity area for little ones as such, though the nearby Jardin des Tuileries offers all the space, fair rides and ponies they’ll need to burn off excess energy. Photography, art and dance workshops are offered in some of the galleries, offering bite-sized insight into special exhibitions. Head to Porte des Lions for the full programme.
Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s monumental Throne is an eye-catching tribute to his country’s enduring relationship with France. It’s entirely covered in gold leaf, blending traditional Japanese craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology.
Archaeology meets comic book art in this innovative, family-friendly exhibition in the Louvre’s Petite Galerie. Delve into the world of expert time-travellers – and investigate how comic book artists have drawn inspiration from them.
A romantic figure, the Marquis Campana was an avid collector (and master embezzler) who amassed the 19th century’s largest private collection. 500 of his most dazzling pieces are presented here, thanks to a collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum.
The Louvre is open 9am–6pm, with lates on Wednesdays and Fridays until 9.45pm. It’s closed on Tuesdays, as well as 1 January, 1 May, 8 May and 25 December.
For the fastest access, get off at the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station on Métro lines 1 and 7. Line 14 also stops at Pyramides, a little further away.
At-the-door tickets are €15; under-18s (and EU citizens under 26) get in free.
The museum’s at its most quiet at opening time and in the evenings; check the Affluences app for live updates on waiting times. You’ll be charged an extra €2 to buy your ticket online, but it’s well worth it to be guaranteed entrance in less than 30 minutes. If you’re feeling spontaneous, try the often-quieter entrance in the Carrousel du Louvre.
Image credits: © Olivier Ouadah; © Olivier Ouadah; © Robin Harper; © Musée du Louvre; © Sully Wing; © La Guinguette d’Angèle; © Alamy; © Café Kitsuné; © Musée du Louvre; © Throne,-pyramide-du-musée-du-Louvre-©-Kohei-Nawa--SANDWICH-Inc; © Isabelle-Dethan,-Gaspard-et-la-malédiction-du-prince-fantôme-©-Isabelle-Dethan---Editions-Delcourt---Musée-du-Louvre-Editions-2017.jpg; © Plaque-Campana,-Terre-cuite,-Vers-1-50-ap.-J.-C.-Paris,-musée-du-Louvre,-département-des-Antiquités-grecques,-étrusques-et-romaines-©-Musée-du-Louvre,-dist.-RMN---Grand-Palais