If you only have a few days to explore Paris or it’s your first trip to the capital, you may want to spend a few hours roaming around the Louvre/Tuileries district. Besides harboring the legendary, almost-always crowded Louvre Museum and adjoining Tuileries gardens, the area reserves plenty of quieter spots with a more subtle charm. Elegant squares, palaces and gardens, stylish cafes, boutiques and excellent restaurants are only a few of the neighborhood’s charms. Here are our top recommendations and tips for what to do around the museum– even if you only have a morning or afternoon to spare.
Orientation and Transport: Getting There and Getting Around
The Louvre/Tuileries neighborhood lies in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The Seine River touches the southern border, with the neighborhoods known as Bourse (old Stock Exchange) and the “Grands Boulevards” department store district to the north. The famed Egyptian Obelisk can be seen to the west at Place de la Concorde, with the central Chatelet-Les Halles- and Rue Montorgueil districts lying at the neighborhood’s eastern edge.
Main Streets: Rue de Rivoli, Rue St-Honoré, Place Colette, Rue du Louvre, Place Vendome, Quai des Tuileries
Transportation: The Louvre-Tuileries neighborhood is best served by Metro line 1. Get off at Louvre Rivoli or Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre to stop right at the museum, or take it to Tuileries to head directly to the gardens. Concorde (line 1, 8 & 12) will take you to the Obelisque and the western edge of the Tuileries.
What to See & Do in the Area?
The district offers an incredibly diverse array of attractions, from top Parisian tourist sights to quiet corners most visitors never end up seeing.
The world-famous museum, housed in the Palais du Louvre, holds nearly 35,000 pieces of art ranging from prehistory to the 19th century. Go to see the celebrated Mona Lisa painting, the glass pyramid in the courtyard, or the sheer size of the 652,300 square foot space.
The sprawling elegance of the Tuileries, which extend westward from the Louvre Palace, are a glorious sight to behold – especially on a spring or summer day when the foliage is in full bloom. Snag one of the much-coveted chairs and soak up the sun or watch children float sailboats on the ponds at these formerly royal gardens. At the west end, make sure to stop in at the Musee de L’Orangerie to see one of Claude Monet’s monumental works, Les Nymphéas.
See Related: The Best Small Museums in Paris
The Jeu de Paume gallery, meanwhile, offers regular exhibitions in contemporary art and photography that are almost always worth a look.
A true haven of greenery and peace away from the swarms at the nearby Louvre, this palace (now housing the French legal authority known as the Conseil d’Etat) is worth checking out for its famous forecourt, covered galeries lined with boutiques, cafés and restaurants, striking columns and calm gardens out back. See our full guide to the Palais Royal for in-depth tips and recommendations on how best to enjoy it, from shopping to dining and strolling.
A walk around the rear of the garden will take you to some of the older buildings of the French National Library (Bibliotheque nationale de France), home to 6 million books, maps and documents. I also recommend a stroll through the covered passageways (referred to in French as arcades or galeries) just north of the Palais Royal, including the elegant, old-world Galerie Vivienne.
La Comedie Francaise (on Place Colette)
Dating to 1680, the French state theater at the edge of the Palais Royal was founded by the “Sun King” Louis XIV and was the place where famed playwright Molière rose to prominence. Recent productions have included Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac.
This formerly royal square has centuries of history, and is one of the city’s most opulent spots, often chosen as a location for film and fashion shoots. The recently-revamped Ritz Hotel stands here, as do numerous luxury jewelers and high-end boutiques.
Consider stopping in for a drink at the Ritz’s celebrated Bar Hemingway for a touch of nostalgia– and excellent cocktails. From here, you can wander up the equally grandiose Rue de la Paix toward the Opéra Garnier.
The Saint-Honoré Fashion District
One of the central arteries of the French couture industry is also a lovely street for a stroll, irrespective of whether you’re simply up for a little lèche-vitrines (window-shopping) or actually aim to come away with a gift or new item of clothing. Start on Rue du Faubourg St Honoré to the west and continue east past Rue Royale down Rue Saint Honoré.
In addition to high-end perfumers, fashion designers, and fine accessory shops, you’ll also find gourmet chocolate-makers such as Michel Cluizel (#201 Rue Saint-Honoré) and Jean-Paul Hévin (#231) pastry houses such as Dalloyau (101 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8th arrondissement), and surprisingly relaxed yet stylish, excellent cafés such as Honor (54 Rue du Faubourg St Honore, 8th arrondissement (access through the inner courtyard).
Out and About: Eating, Drinking & Nightlife
The neighborhood surrounding the Louvre and Tuileries has a fair share of tourist traps– beware– but also boasts a fair number of excellent restaurants, wine bars, cafés and spots for a night cap. (Related: How to Avoid Tourist Traps & Scams in Paris?)
Juveniles Wine Bar
47, rue de Richelieu
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 97 46 49
This cozy wine bar/restaurant is perfect for a night out with close friends. With only 35 seats, dimmed lights and 50’s-style art lining the walls, eating at Juveniles is like dining in a swankier version of home. Pair your wine choice with one of the many traditional French entrees, like foie gras or entrecôte de boeuf.
Read related: My Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux, France
169 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 60 69 29
The first things you’ll notice about this typical French brasserie are the glowing red chandeliers hanging overhead. The overall ruby-hued decor gives this otherwise touristy spot a stylish, young vibe that is still very typically Parisian. It’s also perfectly situated across the street from the Louvre. For this, expect to pay a little extra for your café crème.
226 Rue de Rivoli
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 60 82 00
An ornate tea and brunchhouse across from the Louvre and amid the tourist souvenir shops, Angelina is widely reputed for its ultrarich, frothy hot chocolate, delicious pastries and indulgent brunches complete with champagne. A great spot for warming up in the colder months, or a celebratory weekend treat.
Read related: 5 Most Idyllic Spots for Afternoon Tea in Paris
Ladurée: Gourmet Macarons, Pastries and Tea
Stop over at Ladurée on Rue Royale to sample a couple of delicious macarons, a signature Parisian cake made primarily with eggs, almonds, sugar, and delicate ganache cream. The original salon also serves a variety of pastries and afternoon tea.
(Read related: A Short History of the French Macaron, From St-Emilion to Paris)
46, rue Saint Anne
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 86 02 22
Just over the 1st arrondissement’s border and midway to the Opera Garnier area, you’ll find a plethora of Japanese restaurants and shops along the Rue Saint-Anne, frequently referred to as Little Tokyo. For something fun, try this quality fast-food joint, where you can get salmon-stuffed rice triangles, vegetable tempura and authentic green tea on the quick. There’s even a Japanese grocery attached with all the essentials.
Théatre de la Michodiere
5, rue de la michodiere
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 42 95 22
If you’re looking for a classy night on the town, check out this retro theater with its ticket-takers dressed in suits and bow ties and gold-plated doors lining the entrance. Catch any number of shows here, from plays to cabarets.