When you hear the name Louvre, you first think of the world-acclaimed “Mona Lisa” by Da Vinci that’s hung there. Did you know though, that at a time this place also used to be the home of kings? The building housing the Louvre Museum was even called the Louvre Palace, and used to be a royal residence up until 1682, which was when they shifted the capital to Versailles. When the French Revolution happened in 1973, it was proclaimed a museum. At the beginning, it housed 537 paintings in total.
Today, the Louvre Museum holds upward of 460,000 objects as well as 35,000 artworks. Iconic works to be found here include ‘Venus di Milo,’ ‘The Raft of the Medusa,’ ‘Liberty Leading the People, ’and ‘The Coronation of Napoleon.’ The collections are arranged inside eight departments—Paintings; Islamic Art; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Decorative Arts; Sculptures; Egyptian Antiquities; and Prints and Drawings. Last year alone these drew 10 million visitors to the establishment. If you plan on visiting, following are some of the best reasons why you should reserve that for after dark.
Reasons to Visit the Louvre at Night
- It stands to reason that you will want to go here in the first place, because every tourist knows that a visit to Paris is incomplete otherwise. Going at night lets you bask among the artworks with lesser crowds to bother you, especially since the latter are minus the big Paris tour and school groups. You can also grab the chance to look more closely at the Mona Lisa.
- At night, the shine of the Louvre pyramid sets it apart for miles as a beacon; you get to stand there and witness the futuristic architecture, which also contrasts heavily with the surrounding heritage buildings. This is a given if you happen to be on a night tour of the place, and it happens sooner during the autumn and winter months, when night falls earlier.
- You may think from seeing day tours of the Louvre in the movies that this is the only way to go if you want an unimpaired experience, but nothing could be further from the truth. Visiting at night does not spoil any of the enjoyment you stand to gain, and may well enhance it in a few respects. The art galleries and the works they contain remain lit during open hours, so if you can only make it at night, it would not make much difference while you are on the inside.
- The one thing about Paris that leaves tourists perplexed is not knowing how to optimize their time here. With the staggering number of attractions, landmarks, and even other museums to visit, their itineraries can fill up quickly unless compromises are made. Visiting the Louvre at night helps by leaving more time to go to all these other places during the day without tiring yourself out.
- A Louvre guided tour at night brings a relatively serene atmosphere free from the daytime bustle, which lets you easily take in the information that the guide provides as you move along amid the works of art. At the very least, you wouldn’t have to put up with jostling mid schoolers being tugged along by their teachers, but we made that point already.
Tips for your Night Visit
- Night hours at the Louvre go till 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and of the two the former obviously sees lesser crowds. The number of people goes down even more in the summer, so try and time your visit for that time.
- If you happen to be travelling during the winter, it is good to have a backpack that carries all your jackets and heavy coats, and which you can then leave in the locker space. You wouldn’t need padding inside the galleries because they are heated.
- There is a restaurant inside the Louvre where you can grab meals or snacks. However, other than The Comptoir du Louvre and Starbucks, these close by 6 in the evening, and that goes as well for the days with extended night hours. Plan accordingly for what you want or need to eat, particularly if you have children with you.
- Visitors under 25 who are legally of the European Economic Area can visit the Louvre for free on any day of the week, and those below 26 from any part of the world can visit free Friday nights, from 6 to 9:45 in the p.m.
That was an overview of what to expect when visiting the Louvre at night. As always, when visiting in groups, make sure to keep everyone together at all times. When you check in any baggage, make sure to minimize the money, credit cards, ID cards, valuables, phones, food, and drinks they contain.