Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Louvre With Kids

I am not a huge art museum buff so I can hardly expect my kids to be.  My husband has more patience for museums than I do, and my daughter has the patience of a saint in all things.  My son, besides being a restless growing boy, probably gets his interest in art museums from me, but even he knows that when you're in Paris you don't miss the Louvre.

My son was 11 and my daughter was 14 the first time we visited Paris as a family, so we didn't have the concerns one might have visiting the Louvre with younger children such as losing them, tantrums, or touching the exhibits.  But really, I wouldn't worry much about those things even if you are visiting with little ones - the Louvre is loud, so tantrums would go virtually unnoticed.  The galleries and passageways are mostly very large and spacious so there's no worries about bumping into any precious art.

Touring the Louvre on a full stomach is definitely a good idea since there's so much ground to cover, so we grabbed some McDonalds (what? in Paris? that's a crime!) and sat in the Tuileries Garden in front of the museum to eat.  There is a reasonably priced food court inside the Louvre (in the Galerie du Carrousel) if you prefer, but we wanted to enjoy the beautiful garden a bit.

We had previously purchased the Paris Museum Pass (currently 39€ per adult for a 2-day pass) which is exceptionally invaluable for the reason that it permits the holder to skip lines.  The lines for admission to the Louvre can be horrendous, so do consider the pass.  A regular ticket to the Louvre is 11€ per adult, free to all under 18.  (We made sure to get our money's worth for the Museum Pass by later visiting St. Chapelle, the Notre Dame archeological crypt, and the Musée d'Orsay.)

There are several entrances into the Louvre museum:  the main one through the famous glass pyramid (always the most crowded although you can skip the line with a Paris Museum Pass), the Galerie du Carrousel entrance, the Porte des Lions (closed on Fridays), and Passage Richelieu only if you have a pass.  Entering through the Galerie du Carrousel is interesting for kids:

A fantastic exhibit inside the museum for younger people, I think, is the Egyptian collection because the objets d'art are mostly very large, 3D, and include mummies (even a mummified cat), which always fascinate kids.  The Egyptian antiquities are located on the ground floor as well as the 2nd floor (known as the 1st floor in Europe).

Very small children will obviously not enjoy intricate displays in glass enclosures which they are not even tall enough to see, nor will they have too much appreciation for oil paintings and such, but you might engage them with a scavenger hunt - "find all the horses in this room" - or by letting them draw or color things they see (be prepared by bringing drawing paper and crayons).  The Louvre offers a guided treasure hunt tour for families called Paris Muse Clues:  A Family Tour for Young Treasure Hunters, but it's very expensive (290€ for a family of 4 for two hours!)

The Louvre does not prohibit photography so another idea to keep your child interested is to give them the camera to shoot things they like.  You can then look at the photographs later together and perhaps provoke some art discussion.

My kids stopped at several works of art and exclaimed, "Hey!  I think I've seen this one somewhere before!" which can momentarily make a mom real proud until you realize it was probably in a cartoon or video game.

My son thought he'd seen Da Vinci's
La Belle Ferronnière somewhere before.

Seeing the Mona Lisa was a big moment for them, because every child recognizes her.  It's hard to get a good photo because there are always large crowds and because the bullet-proof glass is reflective:

You can't get very close to Mona Lisa.

Be sure you and your family look up once in awhile because the museum ceilings can be exquisite.

All in all I think families with kids of any age have something to enjoy and learn by visiting the Louvre.

Stunning sculpture gallery in the Louvre.

It's important to know that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays and least crowded on Wednesday and Friday evenings.  Admission is discounted every evening after 6:00 p.m.  The museum is free on the first Sunday of every month and on July 14.


  1. Love this post! We're hoping to take our brood to Paris next year and the Louvre is definitely on our list of places to see.

    I must admit, I ate at McDonalds the last time I was in Paris too. I felt SUPER guilty for doing so, but I was starving! The food portions in France were smaller than I was used too and I was craving a big ol' hamburger. :)


  2. My daughter and I are heading to Paris in May and the Louvre is on our wish list. It's good to know they don't restrict photography, as most art museums we've been to do. We've been debating the museum pass, as I didn't think we'd use it enough, but I do like the sound of skipping long lines! :) Very useful post for us, thanks!

  3. Lovely trip for the family :-). I enjoyed looking at the photographs of the work in this gallery. If I ever go I will plan for a Wednesday or Friday evening as you suggested.

    It is good to know that we are free to take pictures. That is rare in museums and art galleries. I guess most of the work they have there is under creative commons or something like that. How do they do that? Anyway, more fun for the people who want to enjoy the experience fully.

  4. Great tips and ideas! It looks like you guys had a wonderful time after all and the kids had a memorable visit. We loved the Louvre when we visited with our then 4 & 6 year old. We only went for a couple of hours on a Wed. night (definitely less crowded) and picked four things to see including the Mona Lisa. Lovely shots of the ceiling!

  5. What fantastic tips, especially not being hungry!


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