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An English speaker is headed for the Paris Louvre. What is their best use of time if they only have one day?

  • Is the offical (English language) audio tour insightful?
  • Are there any renegade/unofficial alternatives to the official audio guide?
  • Does it result in a procession of headphoned zombies wandering in a conga line between the same exhibits?
  • Would it be better to get a paper/app/book guide and read that, then try to find the specific stuff that appealed?
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  • I’d guess ‘unofficial human guides’ would want a fee upfront and you’d have no way of knowing if they are any good
    – Traveller
    Apr 2, 2023 at 17:53
  • @Traveller I think that's an excellent question that deserves to be asked separately
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 2, 2023 at 20:33
  • @gerrit corrected. i didn't even know it is a "Conga" line, not "Congo".
    – John95
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:08

3 Answers 3

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The audio guide for the Louvre is actually a Nintendo 3DS game console, and, from my vague remembering of it, it is good and really useful (see the user manual)

This is because it actually geolocates you, so it will start playing audio when you pass an art-piece, along with a 3D visualization of most pieces,

And AFAIR, it includes some premade tours, that you can launch and just follow the itinerary on it, you can also let the console guide you on a tour you created yourself

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  • I remember it the same way. The premade tours are important if it is your first time, you want to see the highlights but don't have time to really prepare for your visit.
    – Noldig
    Apr 4, 2023 at 19:25
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It depends on what you want to see and how much of a museum lover you are.

The Louvre is too big to see all or even most. If you are the kind of person who loves museums of this kind you can lose yourself for the day and return at an other time to see more.
If you only want to see the highlights the official tour(s) will work.

If you are like my boyfriend you will have seen too much in half a day and want to escape by lunch time, in which case I advise you not to 'do' the Louvre.

With guides it is hit and miss whether you get one that suits you. My parents had one who insisted on going through that huge building in chronological order, which resulted in miles of rushing through the halls, as the museum collections are not ordered for that. I do not know how they got that guide, but as it was in the 1970s, I doubt they are still working.

With the audio guide of the museum and either a printed or online guide you can make your own selection and get good information on what you see. As far as I remember the audio guide has numbers at the displays which you enter into the guide to activate it for each piece of art rather than a prescripted route to follow but I have not used it in my last visit.

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Is the offical (English language) audio tour insightful?

Back in 2016 it wasn't very insightful. Googling provided far better information and more insights. I'd recommend skipping it.

Are there any renegade/unofficial alternatives to the official audio guide?

Google is your friend. Type in the name of the painting and you'll get dozens of pages with excellent overviews. You can also use ChatGPT to generate a personalized itinerary based on your personal preferences.

Does it result in a procession of headphoned zombies wandering in a congo line between the same exhibits?

Only the Mona Lisa and a few other painting rooms are particularly crowded. The rest of the museum has a lot of space.

Would it be better to get a paper/app/book guide and read that, then try to find the specific stuff that appealed?

Opinion based, we can't answer that. Just know that there's no wrong option. Visit whatever sections of the museum you think you might enjoy.

Is the official guided tour (human) a good investment of time/money?

Opinion based. Personally I think that Google is superior to group guides but some people might enjoy them more. If you can afford a private tour, I'd say it would be superior to Google though.

Are there unofficial human guides? Where to find/rate them?

You should ask a separate question about this.

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