Home to awe-inspiring masterpieces (the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo) the Louvre is the world's most popular museum but lately it's beginning to suffer under the weight of its appeal. On Monday thousands of tourists waiting in line were turned away after security staff staged a walkout. According to Sud Culture Solidaires Union, the iconic Paris museum is 'suffocating' and they're dissatisfied with the museum's handling of its attendance, which broke world records with 10.2 million visitors last year – a 25% increase on the year before.
The growth has resulted in 'unprecedented deterioration in visiting conditions, and obviously working conditions,' said the union. Visitors are also feeling the strain with long lines and limited space diminishing the experience for some.
After a crisis meeting on Monday the museum reopened but visitors have been warned that they must book tickets online and to expect high numbers of visitors in the coming days. 'For this reason, we strongly recommend buying tickets online to ensure entry to the museum,' it said. Though the Louvre is a bucket-list destination - a trove of art and artefacts so vast that it would take you about three full days to see it all - there are other museums in Paris that offer fine art experiences just as rich, but with less crowding.
Leave the long lines to the Louvre and try these museums instead:
This is one of Paris's most popular smaller museums so there will be plenty of visitors, although not to an overwhelming degree. Dedicated to the work of Auguste Rodin, France’s most celebrated sculptor, the 18th century mansion and extensive formal gardens are filled with his most famous pieces, including The Kiss and The Thinker. Cherished by local and international visitors for the French countryside experience it delivers right in the heart of Paris, the Musée Rodin recently underwent a major renovation to optimise its space and make it more accessible.
Musée Marmottan Monet
A mecca for Impressionist fans, this museum offers the greatest collection of Claude Monet’s paintings worldwide, home to around 100 of his works. Located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, the museum is actually a 19th century villa and former hunting lodge, boasting a collection of furniture that's almost as impressive as the art. Here you'll find works such as the Cathédrale de Rouen series, as well as numerous works from the artist's personal collection, including Gauguin, Renoir, Sisley and Degas pieces.
Musée de l’Orangerie
You'll find more work by Monet at this often-overlooked museum on the Tuileries. Compact and charming, the Musée de l'Orangerie is a reworked 19th-century former orangery (a type of greenhouse for orange and citrus trees). Bathed in swathes of natural light, Monet's water lily paintings are the stars of the show here, alongside Picasso's pastel nudes (The Embrace) and Matisse's Le Divan. All in all it's a great place to see artistic powerhouses without the massive queues and crowds.
Le Petit Palais
The Petit Palais, built for the Universal Exposition of 1900, houses an incredible collection of European art. Best of all? It's one of the few museums in Paris that offers free entry to all visitors. Don't be fooled by the name, it's 'petit' only in comparison to its neighbour, Le Grand Palais across the road on the Champs-Elysées. One of the most beautiful fine arts museums in Paris - lit entirely by natural light - it's home to Renaissance objets d’art and paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Poussin, Doré and Monet.
Musée de Montmartre
A slice of village life in Montmarte, this pastel-hued museum is a great place to escape the crowds during the sweltering months with three pretty gardens, all dedicated to Renoir who lived here for two years in the 1870s. In fact, the museum's permanent collection is dedicated to Montmartre's bohemian legacy with artworks that recount the famous cabarets of the Lapin Agile and the Moulin Rouge. You can also visit the studio of painter Suzanne Valadon, who lived and worked here with her son Maurice Utrillo and partner André Utter between 1912 and 1926.