Although it boasts a near 800-year history, the Louvre’s present form—sans I.M. Pei’s iconic pyramid—is mostly a 17th-century creation. Before Versaille, Louis XIV called the rambling compound home. As a museum, the Louvre testifies to both France’s royal and republican patrimony, its local treasures and its foreign spoils.
It is virtually impossible to see the over 35,000 works in the Louvre’s collection in one day, let alone in one lifetime. We propose two strategies: The first involves getting yourself terribly lost in the labyrinth, breadcrumbs in hand. The second is the more traditional route—essentially hitting the Louvre “Top Ten,” highlighted on the free maps you can pick up at the main entrance. For those who have already chased down La Jaconde (Mona Lisa) and the Winged Victory, seek out the treasury of the Abbott Suger, the less assuming works of Delacroix, Géricault, and Ingres, and the revamped African and Oceanic Galleries. The technically inclined can design their own “Thematic Trail” on the Louvre website.
Le Café Marly, in the North Wing near the Richelieu passage, makes for a lavish afternoon meal post-art gawking. A sandwich from Paul in the Tuileries is a cheaper but no less enjoyable alternative.