Our tips for the best times and days to visit the most famous Parisian museums!
Picture this: you’ve just arrived in Paris and you are ready to start exploring one of the over 100 museums in the city. Of course, you’re going to start with the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, the most popular museums in the city. We don’t blame you! The Mona Lisa is synonymous with Paris, and the Impressionist paintings in the Orsay are beautiful, and famous in their own right.
So, you get to the museum and BOOM! You’re stuck standing in a massive line with all of the other people that had the same idea as you.
Here at Sight Seeker’s Delight, we’re committed to helping you have the most perfect Paris trip possible. We certainly don’t want you wasting your precious time waiting in massive lines!
Today I’m going to focus on the best times and days to visit the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and I’ll mention few other important Parisian museums you should visit too. Keep reading for the best tips and tricks on how to avoid Paris museum crowds, one step at a time.
General rules to follow
There are definitely a few general tips that you’ll want to keep in mind for visiting any museum in Paris:
- Try to get to the museum as soon as it opens. If you don’t want to take advantage of some special late night visits, that is (more on that later). The early bird catches the worm, after all!
- Book your tickets online before you get there. I can’t stress this one enough! Walk past the throngs of tourists waiting in line for their tickets and you’ll feel like the smartest person in the room.
- Be prepared to wait in a security line. Even if you buy your tickets in advance, you’ll have to wait in line to be inspected by the security guards. This could involve walking through a metal detector, too. Don’t get too caught up on being annoyed with this process, it’s for your (and everyone else’s) safety.
- If possible, go during the week. Parisians are usually working Monday-Friday, so the museums will naturally be more crowded on the weekends.
- If you can, try to visit Paris in the low season. Summer is a really busy time to visit Paris. If you can, try to plan your trip for the winter, autumn, or spring!
- Don’t get caught up in going to the most famous museums. There are literally over 100 museums in Paris! If you do run into crowds, why not check out some of the smaller and lesser known options?
- Only purchase the Paris Museum Pass if you are committed to going to a lot of museums. The pass is only worth it if you know you will be visiting many when you’re in Paris! More info on the pass here.
- Join one of our Sight Seeker’s Delight museum tours. Our expert guide will meet you at the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay with tickets already purchased! We’ve been doing this for a while now, and we’ve perfected how to enter these museums quickly. Plus, you’ll get to learn about all of the major highlights from our resident historian, Steph!
Ah, the Louvre. This museum is so famous, that in 2018 alone, it welcomed 10.2 million visitors! Crazy right?! It’s understandable, as the museum houses the celebrated Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace and Liberty Leading the People, to name a few!
Here are my recommendations for the best times and days to visit:
- Avoid Mondays, as most other museums in Paris are closed and the Louvre becomes very crowded.
- Take advantage of their late night closures on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Use the Porte de Richelieu entrance as it is less crowded. You MUST have already bought your ticket to use this one.
- Use the Carrousel du Louvre entrance for the same reason. However you can also buy tickets here if you haven’t already!
Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Opening hours: Saturday-Monday, Thursday 9am-6pm, Wednesday & Friday 9am-10pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Metro: Palais Royale – Musée du Louvre
The Musée d’Orsay
This museum is located practically across the street from the Louvre. It is most famous for its collection of Impressionist art, sculptures, pieces by Monet, Van Gogh, and more! Not only that, the museum is housed in an old train station that has been out of service since the mid 20th century. The station itself was built for the 1900 World’s Fair.
Here are my recommendations for the best times and days to visit:
- Early in the morning until about noon are the least crowded times.
- Take advantage of their late night closure on Thursdays.
- If you’ve already bought your tickets like I told you to, head to the entrance C on the Rue de Lille side of the museum.
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
Opening hours: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 9:30am-6pm, Thursday 9:30am-9:45pm. Closed Mondays.
Metro: Gare Musée d’Orsay, Solférino or Assemblée Nationale
Other important museums
I told you there were other important museums in Paris! If the Louvre and Orsay are too crowded for your liking, here are some other interesting options:
The Centre Pompidou houses contemporary and modern art. The building itself is also a work of art, and if you’ve spent anytime in the Beaubourg area of Paris you’re sure to have seen it! You know, that large multi-colored building that seems to be made out of pipes? Yup, that’s the one. The best part about this museum? It’s open until 9pm everyday except Mondays!
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Opening hours: Wednesday-Monday 11am-9pm. Closed Mondays
Metro: Rambuteau or Châtelet
This museum houses Monet’s masterpiece: the Water Lilies. This one is my personal favorite! It’s tiny, and if you visit first thing in the morning on a weekday, it’s likely to not be crowded. Enter the Water Lilies room and prepare yourself to be amazed.
Address: Jardin Tuileries, 75001 Paris
Opening hours: Wednesday-Monday 9am-6pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Metro: Concorde or Tuileries
Musée de l’Armée & Invalides
Are you interested in learning all about the French military’s history? This museum is the place for you! My favorite part is the World War II section. They also have examples of ancient weaponry, uniforms, and even old canons! Accessible through the courtyard of the Army Museum is the Invalides church. That’s where you’ll find Napoleon’s tomb!
Address: 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris
Opening hours: Every day 10am-6pm
Metro: Varenne, La Tour Maubourg or École Militaire
This museum is located in the heart of Le Marais, and focuses on, you guessed it, Picasso! This museum will probably be the least crowded, if you make sure to get there as soon as it opens in the morning.
Address: 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:30am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 9:30am-6pm. Closed Mondays
Metro: Saint-Paul, Saint-Sébastien-Froissart or Chemin Vert
Thanks for reading, Sight Seeker’s! I know that the first time I came to Paris I had to do a lot of research to figure out the best times to head to museums, so I hope I’ve made your lives easier with this article.
Have you been to the museums on my list? Do you have any other tips and tricks to add? Let me know in the comments below! Until then…happy Paris planning!
If you need more help with planning your Paris trip, we’re here to help. We offer an hourly Concierge service which you can use to pick our Paris experts’ brains about what to do and when, get personalized restaurant recommendations and reservations, get the inside scoop on the best activities to do like wine tasting, and so on. We also offer Itinerary Planning, which is the creation of a top-to-bottom vacation plan perfectly tailored to your tastes and needs. You can learn more about both services (and make your payment) on our Travel Services page.