Why Kids Will Love Visiting the Louvre: A Family-Friendly Guide
I have always been thrilled that my two girls were interested in art from a very early age so I was looking forward to visiting the Louvre during our trip to Paris. But even for them, like most kids, the prospect of spending precious vacation time in an “old, boring” art museum instead of exploring the exciting city didn’t exactly get them jumping up and down. Little did they know that it would turn out to be one of the best days of our vacation!
My secret to family fun in the Louvre (and frankly, ANY museum), is that I do a little pre-planning. Hopefully this guide will help you discover the Louvre features I found that are most age-appropriate, entertaining…and can keep the visit “brief.” A little planning just may help spark a lifelong interest in art and culture in your kids.
Read more>> Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Kids
What’s great about the Louvre is that it IS surprisingly kid-friendly. Don’t be daunted by the vastness of the world famous Louvre. Follow your plan and turn having fun into an art! Take a look at our family’s guide to visiting the Louvre in Paris.
HIGHLIGHT #1: A SELFIE AT THE “PYRAMIDS”
What a cool entrance! I.M. Pei’s glistening, jaw-dropping glass pyramids may have been controversial when erected in 1989 but are now Parisian landmarks…and oh so kid-friendly! Before entering the museum, my kids loved taking cheesy photos that made it look as if they were touching the top of the pyramids with their fingertips. Also, while not quite works of art, younger children will delight at the flocks of Parisian pigeons in the fabulous fountain-filled courtyard.
HIGHLIGHT #2: SMILE AT MONA
(Denon Wing, First Floor, Room 6)
If there is one work of art your kids may know, it is Leonardo da Vinci’s legendary Mona Lisa (La Gioconda). At breakfast the morning of our visit, we Googled the Mona Lisa and my kids read aloud some of the many stories of Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile.
Spoiler alert: Turns out, the Mona Lisa is almost as famous for her exploits as her smile. My kids were surprised (and oddly delighted) to know this painting was stolen and stoned, and it’s traveled to the United States, Tokyo and Moscow! Entering the Louvre, I was not surprised that my girls wanted to see the Mona Lisa first. They spent some “classic” moments, posing in front of her with their very best Mona Lisa smiles.
HIGHLIGHT #3: GREET THE GRACEFUL GODDESS
(Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Ground Floor)
Even without her arms, the Venus de Milo sculpture embraced the imagination of my girls. On the metro ride to the museum, I used my phone to read my kids the story of mythological heavyweight Venus (Aphrodite). I explained how the 2nd Century B.C. Venus de Milo statue was discovered on the Island of Melos and became an intriguing mystery to art historians. Once at the Louvre, I showed a picture of Venus to them and challenged them to discover the goddess on their own by using the museum map.
Because Ms. de Milo was discovered with missing pieces of marble, art historians are still left wondering “What was she doing with her arms?” Was she leaning against a pillar? Resting her elbow on Ares’s shoulder? Holding something we can’t see? I asked my girls to guess…and they concocted their own creative theories to explain her pose. Maybe she was holding a bow, an apple, a crown, a shield, a mirror…a cell phone?
HIGHLIGHT # 4: TAKE FLIGHT WITH “WINGED VICTORY”
(Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, First Floor)
We let our imaginations soar as we gazed at the impressive Winged Victory of Samothrace. This fabulous Greek statue was originally attached to something, but what could it be? After some creative guessing I gave them the answer: It originally stood on the elaborate prow of a ship. Then I told them another supercool fact to further intrigue them: This statue was likely destroyed by an earthquake and was originally discovered in a multitude of pieces — it became one giant jigsaw puzzle! The girls will remember this art trivia forever.
HIGHLIGHT #5: UNDERNEATH IT ALL
(Sully Wing, Lower Level)
Ask my kids what was THE “coolest” thing about the Louvre, and they’ll tell you the underground boardwalk!
Eons ago, prior to the Louvre becoming a museum, it was a defense fortress dating back to 1190. Venture way down deep below the fancy museum, and you’ll discover the ruins of a castle that you can see up close. My girls loved walking along the boardwalk that encircles the ruins and searching for medieval “graffiti” on the castle walls.
Here in the somewhat dimly-lit, eerie environment, we were able to find archaeological excavations that weren’t unearthed until the mid-1980’s, including some remnants of castle moats from about the year 1200. We learned that the ruins of this castle did not become a royal palace until the14th century. This intriguing stop is a great change of scenery for kids who need a break from the more formal setting of the museum upstairs.
HIGHLIGHT #6: LIVIN’ LARGE WITH THE LITTLE EMPEROR
(Richelieu Wing, First Floor)
On your Louvre visit, DO NOT MISS dropping in to visit the “apartment” of the Emperor Napoleon — it is a hidden gem! The Richelieu wing is home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s exquisite “apartments.” I assure you these are not like any apartments you have ever seen — they would even make Donald Trump jealous! These rooms are BURSTING with stunning decorative art from the Second Empire. Simply gorgeous!
My girls were blown away by the luxe rooms filled with crystal chandeliers, gold, stuccoes, marble, bronze, silk and velvet! The stunning furniture is enhanced by gilt bronze decorations. Gazing overhead, we stared open-mouthed at the delicate painted ceiling of a colorful, almost whimsical, sky with exotic birds. The over-the-top grandeur of these apartments shines even in comparison to the rooms in Versailles. I encouraged my girls to imagine well-dressed guests of Napoleon being entertained and dancing in these luxurious rooms.
HIGHLIGHT #7: PLEASE TOUCH
Definitely consider visiting the Tactile Gallery, the ONLY place in the museum where visitors are ENCOURAGED to “please touch.” Wander through the gallery of casts of original sculptures on display at the Louvre. Tip: Be aware that many of the sculptures are nudes!
Best Time to Visit The Louvre
The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 am to 6 pm and is closed on some holidays. Check the Louvre website for any updates.
If possible, have an early dinner and then visit the Louvre on Wednesdays and Fridays at night when the museum is open until 8:45 pm. We visited in the height of the summer tourist season on a Wednesday night and we practically had the museum to ourselves! No long queues, no large crowds, even in front of the Mona Lisa! And…if you do visit at night, you’re in for Le Grand Finale, where the spectacular glow of the glass pyramids reflecting the bright neon lights makes for great photographs and a magical conclusion to the night!
Always ask! As you tour the Louvre, ask the guides for help navigating this mammoth museum. This will speed your visit and avoid the frustration of getting lost. Print out a map of the museum online before you visit and highlight the rooms you plan to see. If your children are preteens or older, give them your marked-up map and challenge them to be your docents for the day.
Where to stay in Paris
Finally, when strolling around the museum, let your children be your “guides,” stopping at art that catches their eyes! I hope this article has given you the courage to go for it and let your kids loose in the Louvre!
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Lisa has been traveling all her life…and loving it! Leaving the sunny skies of Miami, Lisa traveled to Philadelphia where she attended the University of Pennsylvania…stayed for…