Guide to Louvre Secret Entrances

Avoid long waits at the Louvre by visiting less-used museum entrances.

If you’re like most visitors to Paris, you’re probably looking to schedule your trip in the summer.

And who can blame you? Not me, definitely. One of the most beautiful times to visit Paris is during the summer months of June, July, and August. The days are long and warm, and the sky is (usually) clear and bright.

But of course, it is also peak tourism season.

You know what that means: the streets are brimming with visitors, who like yourself are all desperate to visit Paris’ most impressive monuments. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Disneyland (yes, you read that right… with over 13 million visitors in 2016, Disneyland outranks even the Eiffel Tower).

And, of course, the famous Louvre museum.

The lines can get long. Super long. I’m talking 3+ hours long.

Louvre guide

Now, standing in line is clearly no one’s ideal way to spend a morning. But for many travelers, a visit to Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and seeing the Louvre (and the Mona Lisa) is often a “must-do”. Hence: all those willing souls, waiting for hours, just for a bit of culture.

A question we often get (especially on our Paris introductory tour) is how best to avoid those infamous waiting lines. And specifically: that line at the Louvre which seems to wrap around the courtyard and go on forever!

The Louvre is the most visited museum in Paris, among its other claims to fame. So, on any day from June to August and again in December, you will most likely to see a line like this:

louvre long line

Yikes, right?

louvre long line

This is the main entrance to the Louvre, Le Pyramide. I’ve seen people waiting in line here before the museum is even open. At this entrance, you don’t even get to skip the line with a Museum Pass – nope, the line is just to go through the metal detectors!

Now before losing all hope of getting into the Louvre in a reasonable amount of time, let me tell you: there is hope. Years ago we scoured the Louvre museum and can up with some alternative options. They can be a little tricky, and some have been removed in recent years, but hopefully this information will help you spend your time better than than waiting for 2 hours under Paris’ many seasons!

Here are some alternative entrances to the Louvre museum that you might like to try on your trip here:

1. PORTE DES LIONS ENTRANCE

louvre lion entrance

UPDATE: as of mid-2016, Port des Lions entrance has been changed to groups only.

2. LE CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE

louvre carrousel

This is by far your best bet if you do not already have a ticket for the Louvre.

This is basically the underground entrance to the Louvre. This is the one you access if you take the metro (metro stop for the Louvre: ‘Palais Royale-Musee du Louvre’ on line 1 and 7).

You can also access it from the Rue de Rivoli, at number 99 (see the picture above for what this entrance looks like).

If you enter from the Rue de Rivoli, walk down two sets of escalators into a small underground shopping strip:

louvre carrousel

Pass all the shops and you will find an inverted pyramid:

louvre pyramid

On the same day that I took the picture of the crazy long line at Le Pyramide, this is the line at the entrance of Le Carrousel du Louvre:

louvre carrousel line

That line is about 5 minutes long! Much better than a 2 hour wait, yes?

Even though in the summer the Carousel line can also get pretty long, it is never, ever as long as the main entrance Pyramide line.

The best part: After going through the metal detectors at this entrance, you enter the same part of the Louvre as everyone who waited in the Pyramide line -but you didn’t have to stand there for 2 hours like they did!

Now, with all that time saved from waiting in the lines, you might even have time to enjoy a macaron from the famous Laduree store, which luckily has a little shop inside Le Carrousel du Louvre shopping strip…

One last entrance:

3. PORTE DE RICHELIEU

louvre priority

This is an entrance into the sculpture section of the museum, and is between the exteriour Louvre courtyard (the part with the pyramid) and the Rue de Rivoli (street running parallel to the Louvre).

Don’t even bother about this entrance, this is for tour groups and people who have an annual Membership pass to the Louvre. I only mention it so you don’t end up wasting time waiting at this entrance.

So, to resume, let me give you a map of all the Louvre entrances, including the secret ones:

louvre entrance map

My tip: In case you ever are stuck in the Pyramid line, there are actually different color coded lines:

louvre line colors
Image: Louvre.fr

As a general rule, it’s always best to pre-purchsae your Louvre ticket… and that way be sure you are waiting in the Orange line for visitors with tickets (it is shorter than the green line).

WHAT TIME TO VISIT THE LOUVRE?

This is another big question we get all the time. Let me lay it out for you:

NOT Tuesdays

First thing, don’t forget that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays (seriously: this is one of those common mistakes we see ALL the time.)

NOT Mondays

Most Parisian museums are closed on Mondays, not Tuesdays like the Louvre. What does this mean for a Monday Louvre visit? Since it’s one of the only museums open – and the most popular – it is absolutely at its busiest!

If you have any flexibility whatsoever, avoid the Louvre on Mondays. You’ll thank me for this, I promise. (In the busy summer season we don’t even offer our Louvre tour on Mondays because the crowds get so insane).

Wednesday or Friday evening

Wednesdays and Fridays are “Nocturnes” – that is, the museum is open late. This is by far the best time to visit! We always encourage Wednesday or Friday evenings for the Louvre tour. You have until 9:45pm, so booking the tour as late as 7pm is definitely an option (and one of the best ones, too).

To give you an example: the only time I have ever been in a room in the Louvre completely alone (with no other people around me) was on a Wednesday evening in the Egyptian section.

To get the most ‘bang for your buck’ no matter when you visit the Louvre museum, I’d suggest this Keys to the Louvre tour. It takes you on a 2-hour whirlwind through the museum, hitting all the main attractions (and then some), in a seriously funny way. The guide Steph is a licensed guide who has the humor and depth of knowledge to really help you appreciate this enormous maze of a museum! And, my gift to you? 5 euros off your ticket! Just enter “BLOGTHX” as the promo code when booking.

Louvre Museum Opening hours

Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays
Rooms begin closing 30 minutes before museum closing time.

I hope this makes your Louvre experience as quick and easy as possible. Don’t forget, even if you had to wait in line, once you are inside you will quickly forget that part and get swept away by all the amazing works of art you will find in there! Say hi to Mona for me πŸ™‚

Additional Paris resources

This article was originally published 24 July 2015 but has been updated for accuracy. Written colaboratively by Claire & Louise.

41 thoughts on “Guide to Louvre Secret Entrances

  • Just tried to do the PORTE DES LIONS ENTRANCE and it now says groups only. We tried to join a group of school kids after getting turned away. Posting now from the wonderfully long pyramid line. Good luck everyone!

    • Hi James, thanks for your comment! What address are you referring to (at # 174)? The Carousel du Louvre entrance is actually at # 99 πŸ™‚ And the Louvre itself is so big that it doesn’t officially have an address… I suppose if you needed to write them a letter you’d just write Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, and be done with it! Anyway please do let me know what’s at # 174 so I can update this post if necessary. Thanks so much!

  • Thanks a lot. We went for the Carrousel entrance in the Tuileries at around 3pm on a Friday and there was no queue at all, despite a thunderstorm opening up overhead.

    • Tom, that’s the perfect time! Fridays (and Wednesdays) when the Louvre is open late, most of the big crowd checks out in the mid-afternoon. Did you get the impression that the museum crowds were pretty manageable?

  • Thank you for your helpful guide!
    Unfortunately, I purchased the ticket before reading it, and I booked for Monday morning at 9AM…!!! :((
    I’m planning to enter by the Carrousel entrance as you suggested, but I have some doubts; the entrance time shown on my ticket is 9AM, anyway I read that the Carrousel Shopping Center opens at 10AM! It means that I can’t access by there at that time? Or maybe the way to the Museum will be already open?
    Many thanks in advance for your reply!

    • Hi Marcello, the Pyramid and Galerie du Carrousel entrances are open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays; and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Passage Richelieu entrance is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays).

      The hours you read for the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center might simply be for the shops themselves – the above information is according to the Louvre website itself. So you should be fine! However, please do check on your Louvre ticket to see if there are any stipulations about which entrance to use. Certain pre-purchased tickets must be shown at the main Pyramid entrance only. Anyway, your ticket should have details.

      Hope this helps!

    • Generally we recommend ALWAYS purchasing your ticket in advance, to save time. Tickets can be printed off or shown on mobile devices (through this page.)

      If you have to purchase a ticket on the spot, use the Carrousel entrance or Pyramid. But expect big lines at the Pyramid entrance in high season!

  • Louvre’s official website says that the Richelieu entrance is open for everyone everyday. Is this not correct? Or is the above outdated?

    • Hmmm, I’m not sure where on the Louvre’s website you’re seeing that Richelieu is open for everyone? Here is from their site:

      Passage Richelieu entrance: Holders of one of the Louvre member passes, members of the SociΓ©tΓ© des Amis du Louvre and the American Friends of the Louvre, as well as holders of the Carte Louvre Jeunes and the Carte Louvre Professionnels. Members of partner organizations and companies can also use these entrances on presentation of their passes.

      Entrance via the Pyramid without having to queue Visitor with advance tickets (including museum passes)

      Pyramid, Porte des Lions or Galerie du Carrousel entrances: Visitors without advance tickets or member passes.

      Hope this clarifies things! But if you go to the Louvre and discover something new about Richelieu, please check back and let us now… in France these things can change on the fly all the time, and websites are not as constantly updated as they are in other countries.

  • thanks for this post. my wife and i visited the louvre today (sunday) around 1:30pm. took the carrousel entrance (arrived by metro). short and efficient security line into the shopping center, a short walk following signs to the museum, then about a minutes in the louvre security line. there were lots of people but very manageable. easily saw the “must-sees” with only the mona lisa requiring us to be patient (5 minutes max) before we made our way to the front.

    thanks again!

    • Hey, that’s great! Sundays are generally a pretty busy day too, so hearing that a 1:30 arrival time worked well for you is great. I think once we get out of “high season” in tourism (June-August), a lot of museums become much more pleasant to see!

      Glad we could help πŸ™‚

  • Thank you for posting this. We took the carrousel entrance this morning and saved a lot of time. We used our Paris Pass, but I did see ticket machines here too.

    • Hi Jarrett, I’m so glad you got into the Louvre quickly! Especially in this chilly weather… Thanks for taking the time to check in, and enjoy the rest of your time in Paris!

  • We are planning on visiting Paris December 31st, 2017. Louvre, Orsay, & Eiffel Tower is a must. We have purchased tickets for the Eiffel Tower for 12 noon. What is the best strategy to get in both museums (we already planned out what we want to see in both) on the same day with limited visiting hours due to it being New Year’s Eve? Since we already have the Eiffel Tower scheduled we do not want to purchase advance tickets in worries we can’t make the time on the ticket. Thanks so much for your help! πŸ™‚

    • Hi there Sarah! Let’s get right to it… I will be honest, fitting in the Louvre, Orsay, and Eiffel Tower all in one day is going to be a challenge. The museums do not have restricted hours due to it being New Years’ Eve, but both will start closing rooms around 5:30pm. Without knowing what time you already scheduled the Eiffel Tower (hopefully later in the evening!), I would recommend Orsay first thing in the morning and then Louvre around lunchtime when the morning crowds dissipate a little bit. I STRONGLY recommend a guided tour of these museums (at least the Louvre) – you will have very little time in each of them and they are both massive museums (especially the Louvre, which is really too big to walk around in on your own and hope to find the things you’re looking for in any meaningful way).

      A couple resources here for you… Firstly, a good 2-hour tour of the Louvre that will take you to all the highlights – this is essential in your very very tight schedule! Take a look and see what you think. In my professional opinion, with the extremely ambitious schedule you are looking to have, not doing a guided tour would be a big mistake.

      Secondly, in terms of planning your trip you should read this article, which talks about common planning mistakes and what you should do instead.

      Some travelers have less time than others, so whirlwind trips definitely happen and there’s nothing wrong with that! But you might glean some useful tips all the same πŸ™‚ You certainly don’t want your vacation to feel like work…

  • Two years ago we also tried to enter the museum from LE CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE but there was a really long queue. We asked to a security officer and he told us to buy the tickets from the tobacco shop there (same price by the way) and we used the main entrance but skipped the line and entered from a separate gate (I dont remember exactly but it was something like VIP entrance). I dont know if it is still a valid option but we were inside in 5 minutes.

    • Woah, Suzie that’s so amazing that you had that experience!

      So to explain what’s going on here – many of the shops at the Carousel du Louvre entrance (for those who don’t know, it’s also a shopping mall) mass-purchase tickets from the Louvre and then re-sell them to tourists. However, it’s not our standard recommendation to purchase from them because none of those shops are officially licensed resellers. What that means is that sometimes they upcharge the tickets, or worse yet: sometimes the tickets are out of date! Mass-purchased Louvre tickets have a 2-year validity, and if the shop sells you one that’s older than that… good luck getting a refund :/

      In terms of entrances, you might have gone in the Porte de Lions entrance (which is now for groups only but would have still been a “secret entrance” back 2 years ago). Or you might have gone in the main Pyramid entrance, where there are 2 lines: 1 line for those who still need to purchase their tickets, and 1 line for those who already have their tickets. It sounds like on the day you visited, the “I-already-have-my-ticket” line was really short – which is awesome for you! However, that’s the same line that you could use if you had a Paris Museum Pass, or if you pre-purchased your Louvre tickets online from the official website (recommended).

      However, unfortunately there’s no “VIP” ticket or “VIP” entrance where you are 100% guaranteed no waiting. If you are super crunched for time and don’t want to do any waiting, your ultimate best bet is to go on a tour of the Louvre to ensure a timely entry and ALSO to maximize your time inside the museum, seeing all the highlights.

  • Do you have any other tours you can recommend? The one you did is not available the week we are going to be in Paris.

  • Wow great insight tips. May i know if we use PORTE DE RICHELIEU entrance during their free entrance on first Sunday of the month? I only wanna visit the Mona Lisa painting and skip the rest.

    • Hi Sleepy, that’s a great question. I do not believe so – the first Sunday of every month from October to March is free entry, so the lines are going to be the same everywhere! Best of luck to you πŸ™‚

  • Hi, one more question – if we’re planning to use LE CARROUSEL DU LOUVRE entrance, is it better to buy tickets online, or is it for people without tickets only?

    • You should be able to pass through the Carousel du Louvre security entrance and enter the area of the Louvre under the glass pyramid, where you’ll be able to actually enter the museum with your ticket (or purchase one)! Personally we always think it’s better to purchase in advance, in case there are long lines at ticketing. In the end it’s up to you!

  • I have a question: if you have a museum pass would you be able to pass all the long lines? Also I never understand long lines are for people to buy tickets or it’s just one line to buy tickets then security then enter?

    • Hi Seema,

      The museum pass is viewed as a pre-purchased ticket so you should be able to skip the line of people waiting to purchase tickets. There are signs indicating which line is for who, but if you have any questions go to the front of the line and ask the Louvre security staff there, to be sure you’re going in the right line.

  • Thanks for the detailed overview. I pre-purchased a timed entry online from the Louvre website (5:30 pm on a Friday evening) for a visit that we’re planning this July. Do we still need to plan to arrive at one of the suggested entrances really early or does a timed entry allow one to gain access without a long wait?

    • Hi James, I would recommend arriving a bit early, but maybe only about 15 minutes or so – the timed entry is designed to allow you to skip the long wait. There is still a security line you must go through but that can’t be helped!

      As a note, a Friday evening is the perfect time to go since the Louvre will be much less crowded. The lines you’ll run into at 5:30pm will be NOTHING like the lines you would see during the day. So that should relieve you a bit!

  • Curious about the 18 and under free, if we are two adults and buy tickets on line, and have one 16 year old. Can we all use the Carousel entrance? And does my daughter have to wait in line anywhere to get a “free” child ticket?

    • Hi Kristina!

      To answer your question, yes, you can all definitely use the Carrousel entrance. But, just for so that you are aware, even if you do have your pre purchased tickets, you will all have to stand in the line for security. Regarding your daughter – she doesn’t need to wait in line for a ticket, she’ll just need to show a form of identification at the entrance to the galleries to confirm her age. We hope this helps!

  • I’m waiting in the Carousel line right now and they’re telling me it’s about 45 minutes. Might be shorter than the outside line but it’s not quite a secret anymore.

    • Thanks for the update Jon! Oof, that doesn’t sound fun. But compared to the typically 2 hour minimum wait for the Pyramid entrance, it’s not so bad! Also, it’s incredibly cold in Paris now, so that likely has something to do with it… travelers are searching for a way to be inside instead of out there in the -5 C air.

  • Karen (or Claire or Emily or….),
    Thanks for the on-line tips. They really help to plan the Paris/Louvre campaign!

    My wife and I are coming to Paris in late March 2018, i.e. very soon. After reading your tips, our Plan A is to head for Le Carrousel to enter the Louvre. But I have a special situation. I’m a leg amputee; I walk on crutches. I walk miles on crutches, so I’m not worried about stairs or accessibility issues. But I keep reading that disabled people can get in a special entrance, no waiting, even for free. Does that apply to me? Who is “disabled”? I don’t have any ID to prove that I’m disabled; I just show up with one leg on the ground and air on the other side. My wife has normal mobility and would need a normal ticket. So should we buy advance tickets and where should we enter? Really appreciate your inside knowledge on this. Thanks
    Paul

    • Hi there Paul! Thanks for reading – we’re super happy you’ve found the information useful. Let me get right to your question. Reduced mobility visitors can enter the Louvre through the Pyramid (main) entrance, just by walking to the front of the line. They don’t make you wait in line. After security, there’s an elevator there which will take you down to the ticket purchase area.

      In terms of free tickets… the French are a bit strange about this, so free tickets are only for visitors in wheelchairs. To enter for free, basically what you’d want to do is get into the Louvre through the pyramid, rent a chair from the Louvre (free, you leave your ID), and then both you and your wife would enter for free. In that case it’s best to know exactly where the elevators are, as you can imagine.

      I know you said that you can walk miles on crutches – definitely be prepared to! The Louvre is ENORMOUS. There are stairs, but there are also elevators if you know where to find them.

      Whatever you decide, I can tell you from experience that our Keys to the Louvre tour can provide a wealth of knowledge on all the highlights (and you can stay after the tour for as long as you’d like). Also, I can tell from your comment that you have a great sense of humor – our guides do too and I think you would honestly crack up with our museum guide Steph. Just something to consider!

  • Karen, Thanks for your insights. I am skeptical of the wheelchair tactic. That sounds like the slow train, the most difficult way to get around once inside. I’d be looking for a place to ditch it till later, and then security would get involved…. It’s not a campaign anymore; it’s a caper.

    But one supplemental question, if you can allow it. The implication, I think, is that unlike your advice to everyone else, I should not buy advance tickets, and I should boldly seek out the busiest entrance, the Pyramid. Then once past security, maybe I can look decrepit enough to talk them into a free pass. If not, I just pay what I would have paid anyway. Do I have this right? It’s counter-intuitive (to use a fancy term for it).

  • Good evening,
    My wife and I will be spending two nights in Paris in the middle of April and will be visiting the Louvre. We can either do a Saturday afternoon(3:30-4:00pm) ticket or anytime on Sunday. We were thinking Sunday morning. Any thoughts/advice?
    Thanks,
    Josh

    • Hi Josh, my first bit of advice to make sure you get the most out of your Louvre experience is to do our Keys to the Louvre tour. There’s even a discount code in this article for the tour. The Louvre is a breathtakingly massive museum, and the weekends and Mondays can get quite crowded so having a guide who knows the ins and outs of the artwork as well as the museum itself is a truly valuable experience. That said, generally first thing in the morning tends to be a bit less crowded. After 4pm the crowds tend to disperse a bit, too. However, the best times to visit in terms of crowds are Wednesday and Friday evenings from about 6pm (the Louvre is open until 9:45pm those nights).

  • Do you have to already have tickets to wait in line at these entrances? Or can you buy tickets here? If you have to pre-purchase tickets to enter and these entrances, is it okay to have an electronic voucher on your phone or do you have to have a printed ticket?

    • Hannah, it is always a good idea to purchase your ticket online prior to arriving at the museum. There is a separate line at the Pyramid for people who already have their tickets (it is the security line, which you can’t avoid). The Carousel entrance is another option, though again the security lines are unavoidable. Other than a guided tour like this one there’s not a good way to cut down on those lines… and in the summer they do get very long! But having a ticket pre-purchased will always save you time once you get past security. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *