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Secret Entrances In Plain Sight – The Right Way To Visit The Louvre

by Tony · 43 comments

Inside The Louvre

You would think something as widely reported and overstated online as “Secret Entrance To The Louvre!!!” would quickly stop being a secret. If you just do a few Google searches about the Louvre you will stumble upon travel forums full of people sharing these “secrets.”

So why am I sharing this same advice with you?

Because we read all of the forums, packed our map of the Louvre that highlighted the best entrances, and then immediately stood in line at I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid like the rest of the traveling schmoes.

Glass pyramid entrance at the Louvre

What the hell?

You can’t fully understand why we did this until you witness the madness outside of the Louvre before it opens.

Your brain is filled with everyone’s rants about how long the lines are at the pyramid if you don’t get their early.

You watch as waves of people crash through the gates while you try to find one of these “secret entrances” with no line.

After a cursory glance to where you thought an entrance with no line was (and cursing your terrible travel planning skills)… you give up and try to get in line at the Glass Pyramid as quickly as possible so that you’re not still waiting to get in 2 hours after the museum opens.

inside main entrance to the louvre

I was so embarrassed by our failure to enter the Louvre through any of the “secret entrances” that I want to help at least one other person do it the right way. So the next time your in Paris, try another entrance to the Louvre and let me know if you succeed where I failed.

How To Visit The Louvre – More Than One Secret Entrance That Avoids The Long Lines

Carrousel du Louvre

Carrousel du Louvre - Entrance to the Louvre

This is the one we were aiming for when visiting the Louvre… BIG swing and a miss on our part. It also might be easiest to find, so definitely try it first if you are worried you might panic at seeing the crowds like I did. It’s also called the “shopping mall entrance to the Louvre” in case you encounter it in your research. Check out this great step by step review on how to access this entrance!

Porte des Lions

Porte des Lions - Entrance to the Louvre

Located less than 5 minutes away from the Glass Pyramid and still within the inner confines of the Louvre, Porte des Lions could be a great entrance to try if you want to catch an up close peak of the pyramid without having to wait in the pyramid’s long line. Wendy Perrin from Conde Nast provides a slideshow with pictures and instructions at the end of her post on ways to avoid lines in Paris.

Richelieu Wing

Richelieu Wing To The Louvre

This one is not quite as straight forward as the rest, but with a little preparation it should be no problem. The key is that this entrance is located at a less visited part of the museum and has signs that say it is for groups only.  These signs also say that card-holders are allowed entrance, but most people don’t explore further. All you need to do is pre-purchase a ticket for the Louvre at any FNAC store or buy the Paris museum pass at a less frequented museum.

Any More Advice On Entrances To The Louvre?

Since I failed to use any of these entrances, do you Franco-philes have better advice? Maybe another entrance or way to avoid the insanely long lines that can develop outside the Glass Pyrmaid? I’d love to hear if anyone has tried these entrances, so please let me know in the comments!

About Tony
Quit his job to try actually following his dreams for once... and is currently loving it. He is working hard to to make this life-style permanent by writing about his adventures and brainstorming money making opportunities with his partner-in-crime, Meg.

JR May 12, 2013 at 11:28 am

great tips. But if you don’t wait in line do you really gain the true appreciation for the museum itself? Waiting in those lines allows for some great people watching I am sure. thanks for the tips for the next time.

Tony March 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Waiting in line soooooo old school :) It’s all about instant gratification!

Genah March 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Hiya, just found your website. Love it! Last year my husband and I followed Rick Steves’s advice and bought our Louvre tickets at FNAC the day before and just walked past the huge line and straight down into the pyramid. No secret entrance seeking required and it was the height of the summer tourist season. That worked for us! Best of luck in your travels!

Tony March 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Great tip, Genah! Buying a ticket in advance is definitely smart. Did you still go right when it opened? We couldn’t believe how packed it got after only being open for a few hours!

Would love to learn any other Paris tips you learned while you were traveling… We are thinking of making a big “tips for couples” post about traveling :)

Thanks for sharing!


pj May 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

We went today to the Louvre. Went to the secret entrances and they made us go back to the main entrance for security check our bags. Line was about 15 minutes. Awesome museum! Enjoy!

Tony July 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

That stinks about the secret entrance! That’s the first we have heard of them turning people away for a bag check… maybe it was a higher alert day? Glad the wait wasn’t that long and glad you enjoyed the museum :)

PB July 5, 2016 at 5:59 am

Hi, two years too late, but what the heck. anything for the love of “secret – how to’s”
The Passage Richlieu (near the metro) now has a security check-post at the entrance. I am assuming that is the one you are referring to. So can be used to enter the museum, if you have an advance ticket, or are a member of the museum. Also, it works best when you are not in a group. And yes now that we are in a state of higher alert, bags beyond a certain size are not allowed. So stay compact and light.

Loved reading your blog. It’s very precise and fun to read. I am writing something similar- thanks to my recent visits to the Louvre.

Dave July 17, 2016 at 8:51 pm

I have a ticket bought in advance online booked for 11:30am Friday 3rd. The ticket says tbat ‘access is via Pyramide’. Are you saying that I can still use the Passage Richelieu even though it’s supposedly for members? The Port des Lions is closed on Fridays I hear. The Carrousel may be my best bet but if I get turned awaybecause my advance ticket tells me I have to use the Pyramide entrance then I will be peeved. I wish I knew which was best. I’ve never known any place like it anywhere for such warnings about nightmare queuing….and I’ve been to many museums and galleries in Rome, Florence, Venice, London and Amsterdam! Yes I get the message….but what would you suggest as best way for me to get in this joint? (getting tired of going round in circles here).

RG July 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Thank you–I read your website, and your directions for the Carousel entrance worked perfectly! Before using it, we stopped to take pictures in front of the glass pyramid, but then quickly made our way to the Carousel entrance. We had a 3 minute wait for the security line, then we were in.

Tony July 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Awesome, RG! So glad to hear that you got a great photo op but were able to skip the line… feels so good! Not only did you not have to wait in line… but you also were able to get in ahead of everyone else which makes a huge difference when it is crowded. Glad you enjoyed the visit!


Jesse September 18, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Do you know by any change if there is a different line for people who already have a ticket and students who have free access at the museum on friday nights?

Tony September 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Not positive, Jesse, but I think there is a way to skip the line if you have a ticket already. Sorry we can’t help more!

KunY May 2, 2015 at 12:57 am

Hi Tony!
I am actually going to Paris this summer and was wondering if I have to purchase the ticket at the side door at Porte des Lions, or have to buy it at the glass pyramid a day before and go to Louvre next day. THANKS!!

Tony May 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Hi! I would definitely buy all tickets in advance if you can. Makes for much less stress. Be sure to check out the hours of operation as this entrance isn’t open every day! http://www.louvre.fr/en/hours-admission

Patrick Burrows June 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Hello All,
My wife and I purchased the Paris 4-day museum pass at L’Arc De Triomphe (5-minute wait) the day before we were planning to hit the Louvre and other museums. We stumbled around for about 10 minutes loooking and eventually found the Porte Des Lions entrance. Literally no wait! We couldn’t believe it. We walked right in, passed through the security checkpoint and were in. Zero wait time. Encroyable!

Tony June 12, 2015 at 7:26 pm

That’s the perfect example, Patrick! This trick is so easy that people think it must not be real. But it’s incredible that you can skip that huge line just by going in a different entrance. So glad you knew the trick!

James July 2, 2015 at 11:34 am

The Porte des Lions is definitely kind of hidden. The easiest way to find it is to walk past the pyramid and, facing toward the gardens and away from the pyramid, walk along the left-hand wing of the museum (staying within the courtyard). Eventually, close to the end of the wing, you’ll reach a covered pass-way that has two bronze lions.

There’s the entrance! I’ve done it twice with absolutely no waiting–the employees actually looked rather happy to see someone! I then bought my tickets using the self-serve machine just past the security checkpoint, still with no waiting.

The only downside is that the PdL isn’t always open. If it’s closed, the Carrousel entrance is right nearby, though. I tell people that if they want the pyramid experience, just plan to exit the museum through the pyramid.

Tony July 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Thanks for the extra bonus tips, James! These are great. I definitely see that people have trouble finding the entrance sometimes and I have an even harder time trying to explain where it is… your directions are great!

John July 3, 2015 at 3:46 am

Picked up tickets at FNAC and walked to the Porte des Lions yesterday. No wait, and you effectively enter at the end of the Italian wing, which takes you chronologically back past the busiest part of the museum through the Renaissance toward the Mona Lisa and to the Winged Victory. From there, it’s a 45 second walk to see the crown jewels, and then you can start leisurely exploring. Unfortunately, the Dutch wing is closed on Thursdays, so I missed the Vermeers and Bosches. We may double back later in the trip.

Tony July 3, 2015 at 1:09 pm

What a success story, John! So glad everything went smoothly. Isn’t it incredible to be able to just stroll in without a problem and without having to wait while everyone else is standing in an hours long line at the pyramid? So cool!

Libby July 18, 2015 at 11:05 am

Myself and a friend went to Paris last weekend, walked straight into the Porte des Lions entrance and there wasn’t a single person in front of us. We were into the Louvre within seconds – it was amazing!

Tony July 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm

SO GLAD this worked for you, Libby! Thanks for following up with us and letting us know :) Hope you enjoyed the Louvre and the hassle free entrance!

Daniellla July 18, 2015 at 11:39 am

This was fantastic. We’ve been to Louvre this morning with absolutely no line thanks for your tips. We found the Porte de Lions and there was absolutely nobody there. In fact it was my 11 yr old who found it with the picture we had from the blog. Best way to describe is… If you are coming from the Jardin des Tuiteres and see the Louvre and the pyramid in front of you, you do NOT cross the roundabout where all taxis leave their passengers. Instead you go to your right, to the very extreme of the museum at that side and look for the 2 green lions. It’s there’s, no mistake, no line at all. Ease as a breeze. MANY thanks again for your post – saved un 1 hour easily!

Tony July 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Thanks, Daniella! It’s so great to hear when people actually use our advice and it works out. One of the biggest things people who know about it don’t use it (I think) is because it seems impossibly easy! When you find it and there is no line, you think: “This can’t be legit…” But it is!

Glad you tried it out and it worked for you. Hope you enjoyed the Louvre!

Erin July 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Thank you so much!! The link for the Carrousel didn’t work for me so we went with the Porte de Lions entrance. We couldn’t believe how easily we got in! It’s just like everyone else has been saying–we walked right up, went through security (which was reeeeally relaxed), waited in line to get tickets (there were 2 parties in front of us..) and we were in! It was absurd to us that people were waiting 2-3 hours in line and we just walked right in! Thank you for saving us so much time and essentially saving our entire day!! This was great.

Tony July 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

So glad that tip worked, Erin! It’s incredible that it’s so easy to get in when people wait in line for hours at the other entrance…

This was so great to hear and I really appreciated you following up with us to let us know how it all turned out!

Angela August 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Found the Lions door today with no problem! No wait at security and less than 5 in ticket line. (FYI no need to go to ticket counter if you have museum pass, even if kids are along that enter for free.) We exited out of the pyramid so still had that experience. The line wasn’t super long when we left but it’s hot here now, and it would’ve been a bummer to wait in the hot sun! Thanks so much for the guidance. Was stressed a bit about going to the Louvre with the kids, but it turned out great!

Tony October 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

So glad to hear it, Angela! Great tip about the museum pass… makes it even that much easier :)

Julia August 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

Thank you! I read your tips just before me and my friend went to Paris, two weeks ago, and it was really helpful! We found the Porte de Lions after just a few minutes, no cue! Great guidance!

Tony October 28, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Ah perfect! Go glad you were able to not waste all that time waiting in line.

David October 28, 2015 at 11:58 am

Going to Porte des Lions was a big time saver! We phoned the Louvre the morning of the day we were going. They assured me the Lions entrance was open, but we needed a credit card to pay for the tickets at a machine. We found the entrance with no difficulty and got to the entrance about 11am. Absolutely no line! We were whisked through security and directed to the 2 machines available, again no line. In we went. We later looked out the windows and noticed the large crowd gathered at the Pyramid. When we left, we did so through the Carousel in the basement. Again, a huge line at security. We are so grateful for finding your advice!!

Tony October 28, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for circling back and letting us know that the tip worked for you, David!

It’s one of those things that once you discover it, you can’t believe anybody actually waits in line… you can always leave via the pyramid if you really want that experience :)

Gene March 11, 2016 at 10:08 am

Thanks for the great tips, Tony. Do you know (or have you heard from anyone) whether the added security at Parisian sites has changed any of these tips?

Lindt March 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

We went to the Louvre in 2 times on October 2015. Used the secret entrance (Carrousel du Louvre) without knowing that it’s secret. The first day we came out from the metro station, the other day via the Tuileries. And no line at all, unbelievable, really.

Next month will go there again and will try to use Porte des Lions .

Thank you for the tips!

Isha April 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

Thanks for the detailed tips!! Looking forward to trying the Potre des Lions entrance to avoid the line during our visit next month; also wondering if you’d heard anything regarding the waits at the PdL entrance with the added security measures since November?

Marta July 30, 2016 at 3:53 pm

We were able to quickly find the PdL entrance today, but they were not allowing us to buy entry tickets there, they made us go to the Pyramid entrance. Luckily, there was no line at the security or to buy tickets at the main entrance, just the extra walking. We arrived a little before 2:00pm on Saturday.
Amazing museum!

steve October 4, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Went to the Louvre last week and the cab driver dropped us at the pyramid instead of the secret entrance I showed him on the map. I believe that saved me about 3 euros in cab fare. Then we spent 15 minutes trying to find the secret entrance before we gave up and waited 5 minutes in the pre ticketed line. I think the moral if this story speaks for itself…I think.

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