The Louvre Museum

Go behind the scenes of one of the greatest museums in the world, and discover its history and the riches of its collections from the Marly Horses to the Mona Lisa.

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Before becoming the biggest museum in Paris, the home of the Mona Lisathe Raft of the Medusa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, the Louvre was first a defensive fortress, then the residence of the kings of France and finally the monument we know so well with Pei's pyramid at its centre.


From the royal palace to the Louvre Museum 

The history of the Louvre begins in the Middle Ages, when Philippe Auguste decided to build a military fortress.
In the 14th century Charles V transformed the fortress into a royal residence, although later kings preferred the châteaux on the Loire during the Hundred Years War. It was only at the Renaissance that the Louvre again became a residence. Francis I decided to make it a palace, and 20 years later, Catherine de' Medici started work on a second palace, the Tuileries Palace. Later, French kings sought to harmonise the two buildings, particularly Henry IV. In the reign of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, the Louvre was extended thanks to work by Louis Levaux, Claude Perraut and Charles Lebrun. Finally, the Louvre lost out in the Court in favour of Versailles, and the building became a museum in 1793, dedicated to works from past civilisations. In 1871, a fire destroyed the Tuileries Palace. Since then, the Louvre has opened directly onto the gardens, which can be seen from the Hôtel Brighton. Some 100 years later, François Mitterrand launched the Grand Louvre project to modernise the monument with the glass pyramid, the work of the architect Pei. In 2003, a plan was made to set up the Louvre at a second site in the provinces. The destination chosen was Lens in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

The museum collections

The Louvre is based around nine departments including the antiquities (oriental and Islamic art, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman), with one of the key works of the museum, the Venus de Milo. The sculpture section includes the Marly Horses by Coustou or The Rebellious Slave by Michelangelo. Then come the departments of art objects, graphic arts, of the history of the Louvre and the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Lastly, the painting section presents, among others, works by Nicolas Poussin, George de la Tour and the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci that has never ceased to fascinate visitors. The Hôtel Brighton is an ideal place to stay when visiting the museum.

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24, place du Marché Saint-Honoré - 75001 Paris
Tel: 01 49 26 90 04