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Pocket Louvre offers a concise introduction to the history of the Louvre—both the building and the collections—which can be read before or after a visit to the museum. For use during a visit, it provides a series of architectural tours plus tours of each department, illustrated with reproductions of five hundred works. These illustrations serve both as a record of works seen and as a capsule history of Western art. The following pages contain:
Practical information and tips for getting the most out of a visit of any length
A variety of museum-wide tours
A history of the Louvre plus an architectural tour
A survey of the museum's seven curatorial departments (the painting department is subdivided into three segments)
Musee du Louvre
75058 Paris Cedex 01
Located in the first arrondissement, on the Right Bank of the Seine, bordered to the east by the Place Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, to the south by the Seine River, to the west by the Tuileries gardens, and to the north by the rue de Rivoli.
Information Desk: (33) 01 40 20 53 17
Recorded Information: (33) 01 40 20 51 51
Group Reservations (required for groups of seven or more): (33) 01 40 20 57 60
To reserve a tour by one of the museum's guides: (33) 01 40 20 51 77
Disabled Visitors: (33) 01 40 20 59 90
Administrative Offices: (33) 01 40 20 50 50
Fax: (33) 01 40 20 54 42
Minitel: 3615 Louvre
Closed Tuesdays and New Year's Day, Easter, May 1, November 11, and Christmas, as well as occasional other holidays
Mondays andWednesdays: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
The ticket windows close forty-five minutes before the museum closes. Guards start to clear the galleries thirty minutes before the announced closing time.
The Hall of the Pyramid, the Medieval Louvre display and nearby rooms on the history of the Louvre, the Restaurant Le Grand Louvre, and the Cafes de la Pyramide are all open every day except Tuesdays and holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The bookstore is open every day except Tuesdays and holidays, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The study room of the Prints and Drawings Department is open to selected researchers by appointment only; tel: (33) 01 40 20 50 22.
The Center for Documentation of Museum Holdings is open to selected researchers by appointment only; tel: (33) 01 40 20 50 50.
45 French francs
26 French francs after 3:00 p.m. and on Sundays
An additional fee of 30 French francs, requiring separate tickets, is charged for temporary exhibitions.
Entry is free for everyone the first Sunday of every month.
Entry is always free for children under eighteen, for art students in public schools, for teachers, and for the unemployed.
Tickets can be purchased in advance via the Internet (consult http://www.louvre.fr for links to the ticketing sites) and at FNAC ticket counters; tel: (33) 01 49 87 54 54.
Carte Louvre Jeunes (120 French francs): For persons twenty-five years and under (remember that those under eighteen automatically enter free) and for professionals engaged in educating the young (teachers and so on). Pass holders receive free entry, via the priority entrances in the Passage Richelieu and the Porte des Lions, to the museum and its temporary exhibitions, plus free entry for a second person on Monday evenings (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.). Cartes Louvre Jeunes can be purchased by mail or in the Hall of the Pyramid.
Tel: (33) 01 40 20 51 04
Address: Carte Louvre Jeunes
Musee du Louvre
75058 Paris Cedex 01
Carte Musees-Monuments: A pass good for one (80 French francs; 12.20 euros), three (160 French francs; 24.40 euros), or five (240 French francs; 36.60 euros) days; admits the holder to seventy museums and monuments in Paris and its environs. It can be purchased in the Hall of the Pyramid, major metro stations, or FNAC ticket counters.
Tel: (33) 01 44 61 96 60
Fax: (33) 01 44 61 96 69
Address: Association interMusees
4, rue Brantôme
Pass holders can use the priority entrance in the Passage Richelieu and enter the galleries from the Hall of the Pyramid without having to line up to buy tickets.
Carte des Amis du Louvre (300 French francs a year; 45.73 euros): Pass holders receive free entry, via the priority entrance in the Passage Richelieu, to the museum and its temporary exhibitions. If you anticipate making frequent visits to the Louvre, this might be a good investment.
Tel.: (33) 01 40 20 53 34.
Address: Societe des Amis du Louvre
34, quai du Louvre
75058 Paris Cedex 01
Lines 1 and 7 to station "Palais-Royal/Musee du Louvre": Exit directly into the Carrousel du Louvre promenade or on the Place Palais-Royal.
Line 1 to station "Louvre," and line 5 to station "Pont Neuf": Exit on the side of the facade of the Colonnade.
Lines 21 (Palais-Royal), 24 (Pont du Carrousel or Pont des Arts), 27, 39, 48 (Musee du Louvre or Palais-Royal), 67 (Palais-Royal), 68, 69 (Musee du Louvre or Palais-Royal), 72, 81, 95 (Palais-Royal).
There is direct access to the Carrousel parking garage from avenue du general Lemonnier, between the Pont Royal and the rue de Rivoli (7:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.). Once parked, you can walk through the underground promenade to the Hall of the Pyramid.
Have the driver drop you off: (1) at the designated taxi stop on the traffic circle in front of the pyramid; (2) in front of the mairie (borough hall) of the first arrondissement (on the east side of the museum), which will give you a view of Claude Perrault's monumental Colonnade; or (3) on the quai des Tuileries (west end of the museum) in front of the new Porte des Lions entrance, if your first priority is to avoid the crowds.
The Louvre publishes a map annotated with access information for disabled visitors, available by calling or faxing the museum. A small platform elevator is available at the pyramid entrance, and other elevators and ramps provide access to the galleries throughout the museum. Wheelchairs are available free of charge from the information desk in the Hall of the Pyramid.
The Louvre, Museum and Monument
The Louvre is both a museum and a monument. Its architecture and interiors make it one of the major historical monuments of Paris, while its vast and varied collections, which encompass almost every aspect of Western art, make it the greatest museum in the world.
The building, which evolved over eight hundred years, offers a concise history of French architecture. It began as a medieval fortress in the twelfth century, the age of the Crusades, then was transformed during the fourteenth century into a luxurious Gothic residence. Next it became a royal palace, with Renaissance courtyard facades and a grand Colonnade that are high points of the French classical tradition. After the Revolution it was transformed, in part, into a Neoclassical museum for the people, then expanded into a stylistically eclectic palace-museum under Napoleon III. Most recently, over a span of some twenty years, it has been ambitiously remodeled to meet contemporary museum standards, becoming the Grand Louvre—a state-of-the-art museum and cultural center.
Originally built outside the city walls, along the Right Bank of the Seine, the Louvre is located slightly west of the heart of nineteenth-century Paris: the Place du Châtelet, where the city's east-west (rue de Rivoli) and north-south (boulevards Saint-Michel and Sebastopol) axes intersect. Today, however, with its monumental glass pyramid marking the main entrance to the Grand Louvre, it proclaims itself the center of twenty-first-century Paris.
An encyclopedic museum, the Louvre has seven curatorial departments: Egyptian antiquities; Oriental antiquities and Islamic art; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities; paintings; sculpture; objets d'art; and prints and drawings. Its collections extend from the sixth millennium before Christ to the middle of the nineteenth century. With some 30,000 works distributed over 1.6 million square feet, 645,600 of which are devoted to exhibition spaces on four levels, the Louvre offers an almost complete panorama of European and Mediterranean art.
The art of indigenous peoples (African, Oceanic, Eskimo, and American Indian, among others) will be represented at the Louvre by a small installation scheduled to open in spring 2000 (near the new Porte des Lions entrance), pending the eventual opening of a museum entirely devoted to the subject on the quai Branly. The art of the Far East is exhibited in Paris in the Musee Guimet. The Musee d'Orsay (on the other side of the Seine) and the Centre Georges Pompidou (popularly known as the Beaubourg) contain, respectively, art of the second half of the nineteenth century and twentieth-century art.
Getting Your Bearings
The Louvre is a quadrangular structure enclosing the Cour Carree (square court) plus two large wings embracing the Cour Napoleon, which is now dominated by I. M. Pei's glass pyramid.
The Cour Carree can be entered through passages in the center of each of its four sides, but its main facade is the Colonnade, to the east. The courtyard is dominated by the Pavillon de l'Horloge (Clock Pavilion) at the center of the west wing. Three more courtyards (some roofed, others open to the sky) are enclosed within each of the two long and slightly oblique wings that extend past the Cour Carree to the west: the north, or Richelieu, wing, which runs along the rue de Rivoli as far as the Pavillon de Flore. The two pavilions were once linked by the Tuileries palace, but that structure was destroyed by fire in 1871 (the still-existing Arc du Carrousel once marked the entrance to its courtyard).
The west side of the Cour Carree and the two long wings define a large esplanade, the Cour Napoleon, that opens onto a view of the Tuileries gardens, to the west, beyond the Arc du Carrousel. In the center of this courtyard is the famous glass pyramid (inaugurated in 1989), which is now the main entrance to the museum.
The heart of the Grand Louvre, directly below the pyramid, is the subterranean Hall Napoleon, better known as the Hall of the Pyramid (fig. 1), which houses the museum's visitor facilities.
From the Hall of the Pyramid visitors can proceed to the exhibition areas in any one of three directions, signaled by the three small pyramids placed around the large one (the fourth direction, westward to the Carrousel shopping promenade, is indicated by a suspended upside-down pyramid that is invisible at ground level).
Direction Sully—to the east, toward the Cour Carree—leads to the archaeological crypt with its excavations of the medieval Louvre (entresol level); the classical, Egyptian, and Oriental antiquities galleries (ground floor); Egyptian and classical antiquities as well as seventeenth- to nineteenth-century objets d'art (first floor); and French paintings (second floor).
Direction Richelieu—to the north, toward the rue de Rivoli—leads, if you turn right, to elevators as well as large escalators up to the galleries of Oriental antiquities (ground floor), objets d'art (first floor), and French and northern European paintings (second floor). If you turn left, it leads to the two roofed Puget and Marly courtyards and the adjacent ground-floor galleries, all of which contain French sculpture.
Direction Denon—to the south, toward the Seine, has three courtyards (Sphinx, Visconti, and Lefuel, all on the same level as the Denon vestibule, which was once the main entrance to the Louvre). It leads, if you turn left, to the galleries of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities, exhibited on three levels. If you turn right, it leads to Italian and other non-French sculpture, exhibited on the entresol and ground-floor levels, as well as to the painting galleries on the first floor. These galleries are accessible via the Victory of Samothrace stair (to Italian paintings, which start in room 1) or via the Mollien stair (which leads to room 77, where large nineteenth-century French paintings are on display).
There is also another entrance, the Porte des Lions, which opens onto both the quai des Tuileries and the Carrousel garden. This delivers you into the galleries of Spanish and Italian paintings on the first floor (and, after they open, into the ground-floor galleries that will contain the arts of the indigenous peoples).
The far ends of the Richelieu and Denon wings house ancillary institutions: in Richelieu, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs (107, rue de Rivoli); in Denon, conservation workshops in the Pavillon de Flore and the Ecole du Louvre at the Porte Jaujard.
In the museum, as in this guide, the seven curatorial departments are identified by color:
Green for Egyptian antiquities (see page 73)
Yellow for Oriental antiquities and Islamic art (see page 117)
Blue for Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities (see page 153)
Red for paintings (see page 197)
Brown for sculpture (see page 397)
Violet for objets d'art (see page 449)
Pink for prints and drawings (see page 493)
For convenience, we have subdivided the painting department into three parts: French, northern European (Flemish, Dutch, German, and English), and Italian and Spanish.
Due to their fragility, most of the museum's prints and drawings are kept in the Cabinet des Dessins and can be viewed only by art professionals and by appointment. A few, however, are on display in the galleries alongside works from other departments.
The exhibition spaces are situated on four levels (see maps on the jacket flaps as well as the detailed maps at the beginning of each departmental tour):
Entresol: underground, between the Hall of the Pyramid level and ground level
Ground floor (rez-de-chaussee in French): level with the Cour Carree and the pyramid courtyard
The location of individual works of art is identified in the Collections section of this guide by wing—Sully, Richelieu, or Denon—and by floor as well as by departmental color and by the number of the room within the department. The rooms are numbered continuously within each department, independent of floor level, but in the case of paintings the sequence is broken by our subdivision of that department into French, northern European, and Italian and Spanish schools.
The Louvre is currently closing entire sections of the museum on a rotating basis, and departments may be completely open only one day a week (Greek and Roman antiquities), two days (most departments), or three days (paintings). To avoid running into closed doors, ask at the information desk for a daily list of what's closed or call in advance (see page 6 for sources of museum information). Also, individual objects at the Louvre tend to move around, whether they've been lent to an exhibition, removed for conservation, or shifted to storage to make way for a new acquisition. As a result, some of the works you see illustrated here may not be on view at the time of your visit.
Getting to the Pyramid
There are several ways to reach the pyramid, where the main entrance to the museum is situated. All of them are wheelchair accessible.
From the Cour Carree, which can be entered from the rue de Rivoli to the north, from the Place Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois to the east, or by crossing the pedestrian bridge over the Seine known as the Pont (or Passerelle) des Arts (metro stops: Louvre; Pont Neuf). Once in the Cour Carree, pass through the Pavillon de l'Horloge and you will see the pyramid. The approach from the Left Bank and across the Pont des Arts is especially recommended in good weather, for it offers a fine view of the palace as a whole.
Via the Passage Richelieu, from the Place du Palais-Royal (Palais-Royal metro or bus stop), which offers attractive views of the two roofed courtyards containing French sculpture. This is the approach most often used.
From the Tuileries gardens, which requires either crossing the traffic circle aboveground or taking the less scenic subterranean route through the Carrousel du Louvre.
Getting into the Museum
Entering the Louvre without a long wait is not easy.
Entry via the pyramid, the main entrance—the slowest but the most spectacular
If the weather is fine, if you enjoy standing in the rain under an umbrella (which will entail two more lines—first to check it in the Hall of the Pyramid and then to reclaim it when leaving), if the line is not too long, or if you feel that a wait intensifies the momentousness of the occasion, you can enter the Hall of the Pyramid, the museum's great reception space, directly via the pyramid.
Otherwise, you have three options:
Entry via the underground Carrousel du Louvre promenade, the most convenient
To the west of the pyramid, below the ground-level Carrousel garden and esplanade, is a vast underground complex of parking garages, conference rooms, and shops. The center, at the crossroads of two commercial promenades, is indicated by a suspended upside-down glass pyramid that serves as a light well. This Carrousel entrance, which leads directly to the Hall of the Pyramid, is the most direct route for those who arrive by car and park in one of the adjacent garages.
There is another pedestrian entrance to the Carrousel (99, rue de Rivoli), but the most pleasant entrance is from the Tuileries gardens, using two stairways flanking the Arc du Carrousel that descend to the crypt adjacent to the moats of Charles V. From there you can easily enter the Hall of the Pyramid via the central Carrousel promenade. When it is raining, this underground route becomes especially appealing. However, during peak hours (and especially when the security personnel have been instructed to search all bags) the lines here can be as long as those for the pyramid—and the experience can be quite unpleasant for those who dislike noisy enclosed spaces.
Entry via the Passage Richelieu, restricted to those with priority passes
In the Passage Richelieu—a corridor through the north wing of the museum, leading from the Place du Palais-Royal to the pyramid courtyard—there is an entrance restricted to priority visitors (groups, students, teachers, those with passes). You may want to consider obtaining a pass by purchasing a Carte Musees-Monuments, a Carte Louvre Jeunes, or a Carte des Amis du Louvre (see pages 8-9).
Entry via the Porte des Lions on the quai des Tuileries, the least-known entrance
The Porte des Lions (opened spring 1999), the only entrance independent of the Hall of the Pyramid, affords direct access to the rooms containing Spanish and Italian painting. This entrance results in a backwards-in-time itinerary, proceeding from the eighteenth to the fourteenth century, but when the line in front of the pyramid is long, this can be a welcome alternative for those without priority passes.
Once inside the pyramid, you must line up again to purchase a ticket from one of the cashiers. This irritating delay can be avoided by purchasing one of the priority passes in advance: Carte Musees-Monuments, Carte Louvre Jeunes, Carte des Amis du Louvre (see pages 8-9). If you have a pass, you can go directly into the museum after showing your pass to the guard at the entrance to whichever wing you want to visit.
Another useful tip: if you arrive about an hour and a half before closing time, you will likely be able to walk right up to the ticket window. This will mean a short visit (especially since guards start clearing the galleries thirty minutes before closing time), but you won't have wasted any of it standing in line.
Services in the Hall of the Pyramid
In addition to the ticket windows, the reception hall boasts an array of facilities: an information desk (in the middle), coat and package checkrooms (be aware that you cannot bring any food into the Louvre, even if you intend to stash it in the checkroom), diaper-changing rooms, an infirmary, free baby strollers and wheelchairs (inquire at the information desk), restrooms, and public telephones (behind the Richelieu and Denon escalators). The hall also encompasses a large art bookstore, an auditorium for films and lectures (see the detailed program schedule posted in front of the auditorium), and reception spaces for groups and visitors gathering for guided tours.
There are many more restrooms inside the museum, but neither these nor the cafes have public telephones; if you are not equipped with a portable phone, you will have to return to the Hall of the Pyramid to make calls. None of the public phones accept change, so you will have to purchase a phone card (minimum amount 49 French francs/7.47 euros); cards are on sale in the Louvre's post office (in the Carrousel promenade), as well as throughout the city.
Places to Eat and Relax
Inside the museum, there are three restaurants.
Cafe Denon, on the entresol level, accessible from the galleries devoted to Roman Egypt (room A). Situated below the horseshoe-shaped stair of the Lefuel Court, this is the most agreeable spot for a cup of coffee or a light lunch.
Cafe Mollien, on the first floor at the far end of the Denon wing, nestled under the arches at the top of the Mollien stairwell, near room 77. It boasts a beautiful view of the pyramid courtyard, but it can be noisy, with strong cooking smells.
Cafe Richelieu, on the first floor of the Richelieu wing, near the entrance to the Napoleon III Apartments. There is a lovely view of the pyramid courtyard, especially when the terrace is open. The decor is handsome and the food excellent (though not elaborate), but a bit expensive.
Outside the galleries, there are several places to eat within the Louvre-Carrousel complex.
Les Cafes de la Pyramide: Cafeteria du Musee and Restaurant Self-Service, both on the mezzanine overlooking the Hall of the Pyramid. Typical cafeteria fare; very convenient but often crowded, as is the Cafe du Louvre directly below them.
Restaurant Le Grand Louvre, a quiet refuge tucked under the mezzanine, near the information desk, offering waiter service and multicourse meals.
Self-Services du Monde Entier, an assortment of fast-food places on the entresol level of the Carrousel promenade. Various regional cuisines: Lebanese, Italian, Asian, Breton, and so on. Noisy and crowded, with food of varying quality, but inexpensive.
Cafe Marly, on the ground floor of the Richelieu wing, entered from the Passage Richelieu. Terrace and interior service; stylish decor; food carefully prepared but quite expensive.
Outside the complex, there are numerous cafes and restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the museum.
General Information; Hours; Tickets; Passes; Transportation; Wheelchair Access; The Louvre, Museum and Monument; Getting Your Bearings; Getting to the Pyramid; Getting into the Museum; Avoiding Lines; Services in the Hall of the Pyramid; Places to Eat and Relax
An Array of Tours
Introduction Tour A (three hours)
Introductory Tour B (three hours)
Classic Tour C (one day)
Classic Tour D (one day)
Comprehensive Tour E (four half-days)
The Louvre: History and Architectural Tours
From Castle to Palace (1190-1682):
A Medieval Fortress
Remains of the Medieval Louvre: A Tour
The Palace of the Valois
The Lescot Louvre: A Tour
The Grand (and Unfinished) Louvre of the Bourbons
The Bourbon Additions: A Tour
The Birth and Triumph of the Museum (1682-2000):
Rough Draft for a Palace of the Arts
From the Museum Central des Arts to the Musee du Louvre
The New Louvre of Napoleon III
The Napoleonic Louvres: A Tour
The Grand Louvre
History of the Collections
Egyptian Antiquities: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Oriental Antiquities and Islamic Art: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
French Painting: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Northern European Painting: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Italian and Spanish Painting: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Sculpture: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Objets d'Art: Accessand Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Prints and Drawings: Access and Tour; History of the Collection; Plates
Suggestions for Further Reading
Author Biography: Claude Mignot is a professor of art history at the University of Tours, France, specializing in the history of Parisian art and architecture of the 17th century.
Posted August 16, 2011
Have this book in my library when I purchased it ages ago. Why purchase an old reference book, when there are so many new ones out there?
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2010
i like the size of this little book(6.5x5x1.5). i carried it in my purse for several weeks after purchasing. The Pocket Louvre is a perfect gift for those who has been to the louvre,who wishes to go, or just loves art. the images are clear brilliant and true to color. most importantly the images are not split between pages with a bend in the middle. The Pocket Louvre gives:the hours of operation, the layout floor by floor with a color coded diagram,the history of the louvre, transportation information and directions on how to get to the louvre,the infromation about the images is interesting not dry, and the images are presented floor by floor(color coded tabs for quick reference). The Pocket Louvre gives a list of restaurants out side and inside to eat and relax. All in all it is the perfect tour guide for the louvre or just sitting in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of expresso.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.