A sumptuous palace that was once the home of France’s Kings, the Louvre is the most important of Paris’ top museums. Visitors enter the museum in the courtyard of the palace at the glass pyramid (designed by Ieoh Ming Pei in 1917). The Louvre Museum possesses more than 30,000 artworks (many considered masterpieces)—from antiquities to European paintings of the 15th to 19th centuries.
It is impossible to see it all in one visit, but tourists can focus on a particular gallery, such as classical sculpture, Italian Renaissance art, or 17th-century French paintings, or take a self-guided tour to see the Louvre Museum’s highlights.
The most famous piece is the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (or La Joconde in French) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503-1505. Other exceptional works are the ancient Venus de Milo sculpture, the monumental Victory of Samothrace of the Hellenistic period, the immense Wedding Feast at Cana painting by Veronese (1563), and Botticelli’s frescoes. Also a must-see is Liberty Leading the People (1831) by Eugène Delacroix, depicting the Parisian uprising of July 27th to 29th, 1830 known as “Trois Glorieuses” (“Three Glorious Days”).
To get the most out of a visit to the Louvre, tourists can take a guided tour. The Skip the Line: Louvre Museum Tour allows participants to jump ahead of the long queues and head straight to the museum’s most famous artworks, including the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. On this three-hour tour, a knowledgeable guide discusses the collections, explains interesting information about the paintings, and answers questions.
The Louvre is surrounded on one side by the Jardin des Tuileries, one of the largest and loveliest parks in Paris. The celebrated landscape architect André Le Nôtre (who designed the gardens of Versailles) created the Tuileries Gardens in classic French style. The formal gardens feature perfectly manicured trees; two ponds; and statues by Rodin, Giacometti, and Maillol. Park benches offer a place to relax and enjoy the scenery. There are also several café-restaurants with outdoor seating.