If you are planning on visiting the Louvre museum any time soon then the following suggested route might prove useful in deciding which way to approach the world’s largest museum (with well over 30,000 works of art on display) as it is pretty easy to get turned around. However, it seems only fair to say that these directions will end up getting you lost and a bit confused but then again, that really is part of the fun when visiting such a place.
I recommend beginning underground in the Carousel area. Here you will find steps leading down to the small carousel arch in the courtyard. Right before you head down you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Tuileries gardens, Place Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. If you are entering from the metro you can follow the signs from the platform for Carrousel du Louvre. As you reach the bottom of the steps you can see some of the original walls from when the building was created as a defensive fortification. Today this shopping area has a food court as well as an Apple store (free wifi) and a Starbucks. Here you‘ll find the inverted pyramid. After passing through security there is a pleasant museum store that is great for children. At the end of the corridor you’ll find yourself underneath I. M. Pei’s masterful glass pyramid and next to the information desk with easy access to all three galleries. Denon; to your right, is usually the most popular way in as this is where you will find French and Italian art. Richelieu is to the left, the lesser visited of the three wings. Straight ahead of you is Sully and this is where I would advise entering.
Go up the escalator and walk to the far end of the corridor. On each side of you is the History of the Louvre exhibition. Some great photos and Louvre related paintings are inside. The collection includes Ange Tissier’s 1865 painting depicting Visconti presenting Louis Napoleon with his plans for the new Louvre. As the building played such an important part in the history of French royalty this would have been a slightly bittersweet moment for the Emperor, or not, as he appears quite content in the painting. Keep going to the very end of the corridor, as far as you can go, then turn left. You now found yourself in the fortified basement of the Louvre. You will pass a model of the Louvre from the 15th century (in the reign of Charles V). There will usually be a temporary exhibition in this area so walk all the way around to the far side and head up the stairs towards the Great Sphinx of Tanis and turn left.
You are now on the corner of the Denon and Sully wings. You will see signs for Greek art but there will also be small photos of La Joconde (Mona Lisa) directing you. Keep going along the gallery and you will come to the Venus de Milo. At this point you might want to barrel on towards the paintings but I suggest a slight detour. At the Venus de Milo turn right, through a room of Greek sculpture which includes a beautiful Aphrodite, surrounded by rays of sunlight mid-morning with her arm enticingly lifted above her head. After moving through the room, turn right and go up one level. Here you will find a room of ancient Greek artefacts but also a lovely ceiling done by the American artist Cy Twombly.
Head back to Venus de Milo and climb up to the top level. You will now enter the rooms featuring some of the great pieces. On the left is the Raft of the Medusa and to the right David’s Coronation of Napoleon. Going to Versailles? Be sure to compare this painting with the one at the chateau. Look closely at the three women in the lower left and spot the difference. David had quite the famous cast in the painting including Empress Josephine and Pope Pius VII as well as the artist himself. All of them sat for him at his studio with the exception of Napoleon Bonaparte (but the Emperor had sat for Davide in 1797).
It will be getting more crowded now as you are very close to the Mona Lisa, follow the signs, join the scrum and have a look, but be sure to wander off and explore elsewhere. The best way to visit any gallery is with no real plan. Did I just make this whole article redundant? Perhaps, but when visiting the Louvre I encourage you search out what interests you and enjoy it for no other reason than the fact that you’re at the Louvre and this you’re opportunity to make it a truly awe-inspiring experience.