Easily one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Paris, its centerpiece, the Musée du Louvre, is known throughout the world and welcomes about 10 million people a year. Many of the world’s most prized pieces of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” are on display here. This is also the geographical center of the city; while it is its least populated residentially, the density of historical sites in this district is practically unrivaled anywhere else in Paris.
The Louvre is generally the main draw to this area, but neighborhood is also home to many other museums such as Musée de l'Orangerie, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume and Musée d'Orsay. Enjoy, too, Palais Royal and its gardens, the Jardin des Tuileries, located between the famous museum and the Place de la Concorde. Exclusive, world-famous boutiques and fashion houses can be found at Place Vendôme and Rue Saint-Honoré as well as underneath the Louvre Pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre.
Musée du Louvre: A Long History of Art
What began as a fortress to protect the French from Viking invaders in 1202 was eventually converted by Francis I into more of a Renaissance-style palace in 1546. The work he commissioned, by some of Europe’s most famed architects at the time, began an expansion of the Louvre that spanned nearly 100 years, adding dozens of wings and free-standing buildings. Eventually, these buildings were connected by galleries and pavilions. As an art lover, Francis I was the owner of many famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa, which would spend some time being shuttled about various palaces before eventually finding its home in the Louvre.
Eventually, the French court set its eyes on Versaille, and the Louvre, its construction still incomplete, actually fell into ruin. Artists, writers, painters and writers moved in for a time until interest in the palace resumed and construction began again. This period was marked by the lavish purchases and commissions of the Bourbon kings, including lots of decorative arts such as tapestries, gold and silverware.
With the onset of the French Revolution, The Louvre went from being a prime example of the decadency of the French monarchy to a shining example of the Revolution’s egalitarian values, becoming a public museum. Much of the art then on display was confiscated from French royalty and aristocracy.
The museum continues to display much of this art, as well as a wealth of temporary exhibits, usually 5-10 at a time. There are over 35,000 works of art on display covering over 800,000 square feet of space, including 24 pieces holding the “masterpiece” title. Besides the “Mona Lisa”, these include the “Venus de Milo,” “Liberty Leading the People” and “Oedipus and the Sphinx.” Spend some time planning your visit to the Louvre before you go - as the world’s most-visited museum, crowds are, needless to say, part of the experience.
The Palais de Tuileries
Built by Queen Catherine de Medici in 1564, this royal and imperial palace was adjacent to the Louvre until it burned down in 1871. Most of the monarchs who ruled the country during this time period, from Henry IV to Napoleon III, lived here. This area has remained free of buildings ever since the palace was destroyed by fire, and the space currently serves as the eastern end of the Jardin des Tuileries.
That same fire destroyed part of the Louvre; fortunately, the museum portion escaped unscathed. Although the sections of the Louvre that the fire destroyed would be restored, the remains of the Tuileries Palace were demolished in 1883. It sounds a bit tragic, but it did open up a clear sightline on the Axe historique from the Louvre through the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Jardin de Tuileries
Named for the tile factories that once stood here before the palace and grounds were constructed, this garden is massive. Created in the Italian style that reminded Catherine of her Tuscan home, each successor eventually left his mark on the gardens. Eventually, the gardens were among the first public parks in Paris. There are chairs, everywhere, freely available for you to park wherever you wish. There are countless sculptures, fountains, and two museums, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, once the clearinghouse for art stolen by the Nazis and now a museum of modern and postmodern photography, and the Musée de l'Orangerie, a destination for those who enjoy impressionist and post-impressionist art, with works by Renoir, Monet and Picasso and others on display. The two buildings which house these museums are also the only remains of the original Palais de Tuileries.
Haute Shopping in the Louvre
The Rue Saint-Honoré, and its second part, Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, is a sought-after destination for those looking to shop at some of Paris’ most prestigious boutiques. This historic street is at least 1,000 years old; today, it is the very definition of chic to many.
Renowned designers such as Hermès, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and shoe designer Christian Louboutin rub shoulders with boutiques like Colette, a concept store with gifts and a selection of cutting-edge fashion, and Goyard, famed luggage-maker.
Another place to shop here is the Carrousel du Louvre, which opened in 1993 and is located under the famous Louvre Pyramid. Find Fragonard, Lancel, Printemps, L'Occitane en Provence and La Maison du Chocolat as well as many others (there’s even an Apple store, should you need it).
Rue Montorgueil-Les Halles
Beloved Parisian food blogger David Lebowitz dedicated an entire blog post to this pedestrian and wheelchair-friendly section of the first arrondissement, where you can find late-night eateries and all manner of bakeries and chocolate shops and, if you’re in the market for it, kitchen supplies. Here and there are the last remaining remnants of Les Halles, a covered market that existed in the center of Paris for centuries until it was destroyed in the 1970s in the name of progress.
Musée du Louvre - official and VERY extensive website of the Musée du Louvre - learn about the Louvre then and now, plan your visit with floor plans, a list of exhibits and events, dates and times and more
Musée d'Orsay – one of Paris’ most popular museums; opened in 1986, it houses an incredible multidisciplinary collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art from Rousseau and many others.
Rue Montorguiel-Les Halles - pedestrian and foodie area where famed Les Halles covered market existed for centuries
Statue de Jeanne d’Arc – gilded bronze sculpture located near where Joan of Arc attempted to take Paris in 1429
Jardin de Tuileries
Batobus - recommended by the Louvre museum, this enclosed boat travels along the Siene taking you to 9 different major attractions, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Musée D’Orsay, Notre-Dame, Champs-Elyssés and more.
VIP Room – popular nightclub situated near the Musée du Louvre
Comedié Francaise - France’s national theater, located in the Palais Royal
Getting There: Louvre’s Location and Transportation Options
This neighborhood hugs the Seine with much of its land area located on the Right Bank, just east of the Seine’s northernmost point within the city limits. The Eiffel Tower is located about 2 miles to the west, just after the river starts heading south once again, while the Champs-Élysées is situated directly to the northwest of here. The Latin Quarter is about 2 miles to the southeast.
The Musée du Louvre is situated in this community's eastern section while the Jardin des Tuileries are located just to the west of it. These beautiful gardens take up roughly a third of this neighborhood’s land area.
The neighborhood is home to a RER station, Musée d'Orsay, which is located on the Left Bank about 200 feet from the attraction that shares its name. It is conveniently connected to the Jardin des Tuileries and the rest of the attractions that are located on the Right Bank by the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, a footbridge that is 350 feet long.
Line C trains serve this station. Passengers can take trains from here along its 116 miles of track to quite a number of attractions, including the Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral. You can also catch one of these trains and head out to Orly Airport by getting off at the Pont de Rungis – Aéroport d'Orly station and taking a shuttle the rest of the way. Not all C trains head here, however, so make sure that you get on the right one.
The only Paris Métro station located entirely within this neighborhood’s borders is Tuileries. It touches the northern edge of the Jardin des Tuileries near its northeast corner. Line 1 trains stop here and take passengers to places such as the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Bastille. Trains on this line also stop at the Concorde, Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre and Louvre – Rivoli stations, all of which stride this community’s borders.
Line 12 trains also stop at the Concorde station as well as the Assemblée Nationale station, which strides this neighborhood’s southern border on the Left Bank within walking distance of the Musée d'Orsay RER station. These trains offer an easy way for you to travel from here to Montmartre to the north as well as Montparnasse to the south.
Vacation rentals in the Louvre area of Paris