The Louvre Museum

inside the Louvre , sculptures, paintings, objet d'art, Egyptian antiquities
Louvre Museum
A very small part of the outside of the Louvre showing the Seine crossed by the Pont Royal.

Louvre Museum at Quai du Louvre


The histroy of the Louvre

Built as a defensive tower 19 m in diameter and 30 m tall, around 1200 by King Philippe-Auguste. The above-ground part was totally destroyed by Francois I.

In 1528 he decided to move to the Louvre. However rebuilding work on the medieval Louvre didn't start until 1546. He demolished the existing tower and set to work building the Renaissance palace we see today. However excavations under the courtyard in 1977 uncovered part of the original castle.

Francois also started the painting collection. The first part of the palace was built by Pierre Lescot, and over the next 200 years grew and stretched along the banks of the Seine to become what we see today.

Louis XIV commissioned a lot of the enlargements, but soon left for Versailles, and the palace was neglected. Louis XIV never felt comfortable in the Louvre after the Fronde rebellion. He felt that at Versailles he could more easily control and watch the nobles, and by forcing them to move from Paris they would lose some of their growing independence from the crown. At Versailles he was the centre of everything, and everything revolved around him.

Napoleon was the next to add and renovate. Outside he added the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and Napoleon III completed the renovations.

Pyramid, Ieoh Ming Pei

The building first became a museum in 1793 when it housed the royal art collections. Not everything could be displayed at the same time, and it was not until President Mitterrand ordered renovations and the additions of the glass pyramids that the whole of the Louvre was turned into a museum. And with 60 000 sq m it is considered the largest museum in the world.

Above, a close up showing the walks along the Seine. The Louvre is just huge. It is interesting to just walk slowly around it and look at the building itself, the interior of the building is also fascinating and beautiful, and of course it's contents make it one of the best museums in the world.

Visiting the Louvre

Entrance to the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of every month and reduced after 3pm on other days.

If you are going to be in Paris for a while, and are planning a few visits, then an Amis du Louvre card is a good buy. It costs 50 euros and entitiles you to free entry to the Louvre, including special exhibitions. You can enter through a different door to the tourists, so avoid queues, you get a discount at the museum book shops and cafes, and reduced entry prices at some other museums. Also if you pay French income tax you can claim about half of the 50 euros back, so keep you receipt. All in all it is a real bargain.

Louvre original entrance

The main entrance to the Louvre nowadays is through Ieoh Ming Pei's glass pyramid in the centre of the Napoleon courtyard. The pyramid was completed in 1989 and is cleaned by a robot.

The original main entrance, now located behind the glass pyramid above.

Louvre in snow

These three photographs were taken during an unusually cold period in Paris. I was on the second floor in the Italian paintings long gallery (the one you must go along to get to the Mona Lisa).

The photograph below shows the arches through which buses pass. In fact one of the best bus rides is to take the 69 from Bastille, come through these arches, cross the river to pass the Musee d'Orsay, and on the Champs des Mars and the Eiffel Tower. You can do this for 1 metro/bus ticket!. Nowhere in Paris will you get a better bargain. It is even more spectacular at night when the Pyramid and Eiffel Tower are lit up.

Louvre in snow

In the photgraphs below you can see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. If you look through this you can see the obelisk in Place de la Concorde, then the Arc de Triomphe, and through this the Grande Arche at La Defense. On a clear day it is quite a sight. The arch was put up in 1806 - 8, and is modelled on the Septimus Severus arch in Rome.

It celebrates Napoleon's victories in 1805 (there is no mention of Trafalgar). It used to form the main entrance to the Palais des Tuileries which burned down.

Louvre in snow
Arc de Triompe du Carrousel de Louvre

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
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