How to make sure you enjoy your Mona Lisa visit at the Louvre
Originally published by Ann in December 2019 and updated by Felix in April 2023
Whenever one comes to Paris, the Louvre Museum is obviously one of the main attractions of the city. The Louvre Museum is home to the royal corrections that were assembled in the 17th century by a French King called Francis 1. While in Paris, visiting the most famous museum of art in the world is undoubtedly on everyone’s bucket list, especially to get the chance to see the Mona Lisa, also known as the Gioconda.
This fascinating painting is considered one of the most famous paintings around the world. However, this is a subjective opinion and some people may agree or differ.
Just for you to know how popular the painting is: some of the visitors buy a Louvre ticket just to have a glance at the Mona Lisa and to take a selfie.
The Mona Lisa is quite a big deal, so there are usually a lot of people standing in front of it. If you want to see it in the best conditions, you will need a few tips, so read on and find out the best way to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre.
If you’d like to explore more of Paris while you’re in the city, consider joining a Paris Walking Tour to make the most of your visit.
Study a little about the painting before seeing it in real life
Why is it so famous?
It is a common question that pops up in mind every time someone hears this name that needs no introduction, Mona Lisa. Why is Mona Lisa so famous?
First of all, you should study a little about the painting before seeing it at the Louvre. Its dimensions are the following: 77 cm × 53 cm (30 in × 21 in). It is generally a small painting, but as we all know the best things in life come in small packages. However, this Leonardo’s masterpiece is considered one of the most famous paintings in the world.
You will need to know a little about its history and its details to fully enjoy the experience of seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, especially because it will be a few meters from you, so you won’t be able to have a closer look.
The painting was done by the Italian Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci, between 1503 and 1506. Francesco del Giocondo, a nobleman, ordered the painting to thank his wife for giving him two children. But it only became famous after being stolen in 1911. It is amazing how stealing can make something so popular. Probably you ask, how was Mona Lisa stolen?
At that time, an employee of the Louvre had taken it and kept it for two years in his apartment in Paris.
He then tried to sell it to an art gallery in Florence where he believed the painting belonged. The owner of the art gallery warned the authorities about the situation, and the Mona Lisa returned to the Louvre Museum in 1914.
Due to this scandal, the media spread history throughout the world and that is how the painting became widely famous.
For the art connoisseurs, the Gioconda is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, because the artist used the sfumato painting technique, which is a slow process where the paint is applied in thin layers.
Leonardo da Vinci painted one layer and waited for it to dry, repeating this procedure several times until the painting was completed. That is the main reason why it took him three years to finish it.
Additionally, it is more famous because Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most celebrated artists and the artistic excellence of Mona Lisa is part of his incredible work. It is indeed a masterpiece of its kind drawn during the French Revolution era.
For a deeper appreciation of art and history, consider exploring the masterpiece within the context of a broader Paris Landmark Tour that includes iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and more.
Look at its details and try to interpret them
You could also read a few analyses, interpretations, and stories about the painting so that you can run your conclusions about it, and interpret it the way it makes more sense to you.
I’ve studied the Gioconda a few times and, to me, Mona Lisa is the face of serenity. When you look at the painting, there’s like an interaction between her and the spectator. She has this peculiar maternal expression on her face. She peacefully smiles, as the river flows behind her. The water here symbolizes the “passing of time”.
Each person has their interpretation of the Mona Lisa. Even if you google for some studies about the Mona Lisa painting, you will see that there are thousands of different analyses. I advise you to read a few of them before seeing the painting in real life at the Louvre Museum.
This will allow you to know where to look, when in front of the painting. Look for the details. Try to figure out if you agree with the articles you’ve read and make your conclusions. Who knows? Maybe you will end up discovering new perspectives no one thought about before.
I’m giving you this suggestion because what happens sometimes is that visitors get to see the Mona Lisa painting for the first time in their life and they get a little disappointed because there is such a fuss about it but when they get to be in front of it, it usually so much crowded, one doesn’t get to truly enjoy the masterpiece.
If you read a little about it before seeing the Mona Lisa, it will be much more enjoyable and you will have an easier understanding of it.
On the other hand, you might decide to have a guided tour to take you through Louvre. Any experienced guide in the museum will know some history about it and probably give reasons behind Mona Lisa’s Smile in the painting. However, it is good to hear different views. Maybe ask other visitors what they think about the painting.
Buy your tickets in advance
Now that you know a little more about the Mona Lisa, you’re probably eager to see it in real life. The best way to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre is to buy your tickets in advance, to avoid waiting in what can be a super long line at the security entrance (thirty minutes to two hours), and then waiting in a ticket line (shorter) inside the lobby.
You can buy tickets in advance with Tiqets for any day (we have yet to see them sold out). You will receive your tickets via email or SMS and you just have to show your tickets on your smartphone.
At the entrance go directly to the guard at the front of the pyramid entrance. There is a separate line for e-ticket holders, you still have to go through security, but you are merged near the front and once inside you already have a ticket so there won’t be a second line for you to go through. One of the nicest aspects of these tickets is that you have to select a timeslot for your visit, which is a good way to plan your day.
You can also buy the tickets at the museum for seventeen euros. Admission is free for visitors, aged under 18, and the 18-25-year-old residents of the European Economic Area, so don’t forget to bring your ID!
Pick the right entrance
It is also very important to pick the right entrance to the museum to avoid long waiting lines since the Louvre Pyramid entrance is usually full of people. You can enter the Louvre by the Carrousel Du Louvre shopping mall, located at 99 rue de Rivoli, as you can see in the left picture. You also have another entrance to the museum at the Palais-Royal – Musée du Louvre metro station on lines 1 and 7 of the metro, as seen in the right picture above.
If you are not patient enough, you may need to consider this option to avoid long lines. Many visitors are touring Louvre Museum in Paris every day and you can only go ahead of them by choosing the right entrance.
You will then go through a security check, so do not bring anything you wouldn’t want to be seized by the security officers.
Come at the right time
The best way to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre is also to come at the right time, either in the morning, when she wakes up, or at night, before she goes to bed. The museum opens at 9 am, so make sure to be there at the opening time, if you want to enjoy all the angles of the Mona Lisa painting.
If you’re not an early bird, you can come at night on Wednesday or Friday, that is the only two days the museum stays open until 9.45 pm.
However, due to the high number of visitors, you are allowed to view Mona Lisa for some time. Coming at the right time gives you an advantage over other visitors and you get to have more time with her. Mona Lisa is known for her optical illusion and for looking at visitors in an enigmatic smile.
Know where to find it inside the museum
You should know where to find the Mona Lisa in the museum. It is located on the first floor, in Denon alley, between the Italy paintings of 1250-1800 and the France paintings of 1780-1850.
Many visitors get confused as this room is very big and at times it is crowded. This is now where it is located for easy maneuvering.
You don’t need to worry, the Louvre Museum is very big but the way to reach the Mona Lisa is indicated on the first floor. So as long as you go to the first floor, you won’t be having any trouble finding the painting.
If you haven’t seen the 2018 music video of Beyonce and Jay-z’s “Apes**t“, here it is. In this video, which is beautifully made, you will be able to see many rooms of the Louvre Museum as well as the Mona Lisa painting in the background when the couple appears together. Enjoy!
Enjoy the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition
From October, 24th of 2019 until February, 24th of 2020, you can attend the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre Museum. If you’re in Paris during this period, don’t miss it!
You can access the exhibition with your regular Louvre ticket, but due to the large number of visitors, you will have to go online and book a date and a timeslot for when visiting the exhibition.
During the exhibition, the portrait is heavily guarded and is placed in a protective glass case that is bulletproof. It is an extremely valuable masterpiece and therefore requires a great deal of care and protection.
The exhibition is focused on Leonardo da Vinci’s career, works, and his research on the world. A unique opportunity will also be offered to you: a virtual reality experience with the Mona Lisa painting, called “A one on one meeting with the Gioconda“, En tête-à-tête avec la Joconde in French.
If you’re curious, have a thirst for knowledge a,nd love to learn more about the figures that inspired the world, you will love to attend this exhibition while in Paris as well as many other ones because there are countless exhibitions happening throughout the year in the different museums of the city. Check the ones that best suit your interest and plan your stay in Paris and all the exhibitions you want to attend to beforehand. Make sure you book in advance to guarantee your place!
You now know the best way to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has been useful. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything.
Since you’re visiting the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, you should also take the time to have a look at all the other masterpieces the museum houses. Don’t forget you can buy Louvre tickets with Tiqets and to check our guide presenting the Louvre Museum.
If you’re a lover of Impressionist art, go to the Orsay Museum, and if you’re curious and love to experience different things, join our Leonardo da Vinci. Additionally, if you have a curious spirit and a penchant for diverse experiences, consider joining our Paris Street Tour. In my opinion, art, in all its forms, has to be valued and appreciated, because it says a lot about the culture and the state of mind of the people and of the times it is produced in. See you soon in Paris!