Visiting the Louvre at Night
The Louvre in Paris is the world’s most visited museum, so chances are you’ve heard of it! Is the Mona Lisa ringing any bells?! While Mona is definitely worth checking out, it’s not the only thing to see at this famous musée.
The very first time I came to Paris for my semester abroad, I was lucky enough to live just around the corner from the Louvre, so you can imagine that I was there a lot! It’s also one of my first stops whenever someone comes to visit me. There’s nothing like starting out a great Paris trip by soaking in some art.
As you can guess, the Louvre tends to get pretty crowded sometimes. Don’t even try to go there on the first Sunday of the month (on the first Sunday of the month in Paris, all national museums are free!), and in the summer months it’s crammed with tourists from all around the world. You may find yourself just trying to navigate the crowds instead of enjoying the art and artefacts.
Don’t let this get you down! There’s a simple solution to all of your crowded-Louvre problems: visit the museum at night! The Louvre has recognized that almost everyone who visits Paris wants to visit the museum, and it’s for that reason that they have extended their opening hours into the evening two nights a week!
Keep reading to learn all of the details of the Louvre’s nighttime hours, and why it’s worth it to visit the museum in the evening!
Why you should go to the Louvre
For those of you less than familiar with the Louvre, you may be asking yourself…”but why should I do to the museum at all?!”
The Louvre has a pretty interesting background story, as it has been a part of Paris since 1202. The structure went from being a fortress, to a castle for the French royalty, and to finally being transformed into a museum. When it first opened, only a select few were allowed to visit the collection, but that soon changed in 1793 when it was completely opened to the public.
The Louvre is home to masterpieces such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo, Pythokritos’s Winged Victory of Samothrace (that’s where the brand Nike got their idea for their unmistakable logo!), and Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People…just to name a few!
In addition to this, there are massive sections dedicated to Roman, Egyptian, and Greek art. There is even a section where you can see the ancient ruins of the Louvre fortress, and learn more about how the fortress served to protect Paris during medieval times.
Why you should go to the Louvre at night
As I mentioned, the Louvre tends to get crowded. With all of the amazing art and history housed there, it’s not hard to see why! The Louvre recognized that they needed to come to a solution in order to make everyone’s visiting experience better, and it is for that reason that the museum is now open until 9:45pm on Wednesday’s and Friday’s.
There’s also something to be said for the ambiance of the museum when you visit after hours. When the rest of Paris is winding down from a work day, or a long day of exploring, you’ll just be getting started on a cultural adventure!
Another bonus of checking out the Louvre at night, is seeing the glass pyramid located outside the main entrance of the museum lit up in all it’s splendor. This is of course during the fall and winter months, as the sun stays out quite late in Paris during the summer (something that I LOVE!).
Wednesday seems to be the best choice, as there aren’t many art enthusiasts or tourists that visit in the middle of the week. Enjoy shorter or no lines, and relax as you wander through the galleries. This is the way art is supposed to be seen!
There is also a new initiative at the Louvre which begins in 2019: in addition to the first Sunday of the month being free, the first Saturday night of the month will now be free as well! Visit the Louvre from 6pm-9:45pm free of charge.
Another trick to avoiding long lines at the Louvre is to purchase your ticket online before you go. Trust me on this one: taking the time to do this changes everything!
Another special moment to visit the Louvre at night is the Nuit Blanche. Literally translated to “White Night”, this is the French expression for “all-nighter”. One night a year, several museums in Paris open there doors for evening hours, and this includes the Louvre!
In Paris Nuit Blanche is usually held in October, just as the days begin getting shorter. Public transportation stays open all night, enabling you to hop around the city to visit different museums and art galleries. In addition to late closings, many museums are accessible free of charge!
The Nuit Blanche does tend to get a bit more crowded, but the ambiance is friendly and convivial, and because many tourists don’t know of the event, you’ll find yourself surrounded by locals. This is one of my favorite events in Paris, so if you’ll be here in October, be sure to check it out!
Before you visit, I recommend checking out the Louvre’s official website, where they have been kind enough to map out different routes, or “trails”, for visiting their collections. Choose the trail that interests you, and you’ll be smooth sailing! Different trails include the Da Vinci Code trail, the Masterpiece trail, the Italian Renaissance trail, and the From Palace to Museum trail.
All in all, the Louvre should definitely be on your list of things to do in Paris. If you cringe at the thought of crowds, I don’t blame you! Beat the throngs of tourists by visiting the museum in the evening, and you’ll be glad you did.
If you want to learn more about the Louvre, and get your bearings around the city, check out our free Paris Landmarks tour, where you’ll enjoy an overview of Paris’ greatest landmarks!
Opening hours: Monday 9am-6pm, Closed Tuesday, Wednesday 9am-9:45pm, Thursday 9am-6pm, Friday 9am-9:45pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm.