The Allez Entertainment team was in Paris recently, and we met a friend who was dying to go to the Louvre, but hated the idea of spending hours fighting the crowds. Well, we had the answer! Go to the Louvre at night! The museum stays open until 21:45 (9:45 PM) on Wednesday and Friday nights. And since it happened to be Wednesday, we were in luck. Arriving at one of the most popular and crowed spots in Paris, we walked right in, got through security and purchased our tickets all in about ten minutes.
The Louvre at Night
Since our friend had not been to the storied museum before, and we wanted to test our Louvre at night theory, we thought we should try to see the BIG THREE masterpieces: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa.
So, map in hand, off we went on our late night Masterpiece Quest. Since the crowds had thinned out, it was quite easy to navigate through the vast museum. Up the steps, down the steps, around the corner and there, at the top of the most magnificent staircase, was our first find.
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory). It was created in the 2nd century BC and has been on display in the Louvre since 1884. And it was very easy to get a nice photo, as it wasn’t mobbed by tourists. Having the time to really see this up close and not get elbowed out of the way was really nice.
We then continued on with the Quest for our next masterpiece–the Mona Lisa! Now we knew this would be the most crowded masterpiece, and it did not disappoint. Mona Lisa is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of art in the Louvre, with people from all over the world traveling to the museum to catch a glimpse of that smile that has intrigued millions for centuries.
The biggest surprise when you finally see Leonardo Di Vince’s most famous work is that it isn’t as big as you might imagine. The dimension of the painting is actually just 21 x 30 inches (53 x 77cms). The Mona Lisa also has its own bodyguards and is protected by bulletproof glass. Even though it was busy, it was not as crowded as I have seen it. We were able to get right up to the ropes as close as we were allowed to go.
Two down and one to go! Onward with the Quest.
Aphrodite of Milos
Checking the map, we once again were climbing and descending stairs, while looking for the Greek Antiquities rooms. The Louvre is huge and some of our party was getting tired of all the walking, but we carried on. The Louvre is made up of three wings. The Denon Wing is where we saw the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The Richelieu Wing has the apartments of Napoleon III, but we wanted the Sully Wing, the oldest part of the museum. That’s where we would find the last of the “Big Three” masterpieces.
Then at last! There it was! Aphrodite of Milos, mistakenly known as Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Again, like the museum in general, this exhibit was not crowded, and we were able to take our time, get our photos and just be able to look and study the amazing statue at our leisure. The Louvre at night has quite a different feel from the hectic day hours, with the busloads of tourists running through the galleries.
The Lovely Louvre at Night
Another advantage of going to the Louvre at night is the sunset views out the gallery windows. It is fascinating to look out over the city and see the sun setting. You can get some great photos of the pyramid from the windows. The Louvre’s glass pyramid was built in 1989 and is 21 meters high. It is made solely of glass and metal and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris. The architect, I.M. Pei, was the first non-French architect to work on the Louvre. The glass pyramid is actually one of four, as three smaller glass pyramids surround the courtyard, Cour Napoléon.
With our Quest complete, we strolled through some of the other galleries, looking at more of the amazing collection of art and artifacts. The museum guards came through and announced the closing of the museum. We had to leave but we felt quite satisfied and victorious. Our friend had seen some of the most magnificent exhibits in the Louvre without lines and crowds and we had once again been able to come and marvel at this spectacular inventory of the beauty of Western civilization. As we all walked out into the starry Paris night, we knew we would be back. We might not ever be able to see it all. But we can always try.
A Few Louvre Facts
- Originally a fortress and later a royal palace, in 1793 part of the Louvre became a public museum, which has expanded to occupy most of the 652,300 square-foot building.
- The Louvre is one of Paris’ most visited attractions, with over nine million visitors per year.
- The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. It’s so big that it’s not possible to see what the museum has to offer in one or even several visits.
- The museum offers 380,000 pieces in total and has 35,000 on display!
- If you ever have 100 days with nothing to do, you could probably squeeze in every piece of art, but you could only spend 30 seconds on each piece.
- The Louvre is free on the first Sunday of every month and on July 14, Bastille Day.
- The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. But on other days, make sure the part of the museum you want to visit is open because sometimes some departments like the French painting collection can be closed on certain days of the week.
- There are a number of entrances to the museum and they are not as crowded as the main entrance through the glass pyramid.
Find France for Yourself
Musée du Louvre
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Make sure to see our video series Finding France: Los Angeles. We’re discovering French influences and history in a place you’d least expect!