In the artistically poetic world of museums, the Louvre occupies an important place. In one of Shakespeare’s enduring works, Cassius describes Julius Caesar as “stepping over the narrow world like a colossus” and that “we little men walk under his huge legs and look to find ourselves dishonorable graves”. This is precisely the position occupied by one of the most emblematic structures in the world. And this is not hyperbole.
The Louvre is the largest museum on the planet. It is also the most visited, although a first visit requires a little preparation. And with over 480,000 collections and exhibits, it would take one person around 100 days to see them all. And that’s if he or she only spends 30 fleeting seconds on an individual item. With this impressive reputation, the Louvre is obviously worth a visit. And even if you can’t spend 100 days there, the Napoleon Apartment Tour alone is worth it.
What to know about visiting Napoleon’s apartment in the Louvre
On a typical Louvre tour, most visitors head straight for the Mona Lisa. And for a reason. It has been described as “the most famous, most visited, most written, most sung, most parodied work of art in the world”.
However, the Louvre is much more than the Mona Lisa. In this article, we show that visiting Napoleon’s apartment alone is more than a memorable visit. But first, who was Napoleon, whose name was bequeathed to these glamorous apartments?
Understanding Napoleon III, the man behind the Louvre apartments
To begin with, there is a distinction to be made. These apartments are called Napoleon III Apartments and not just Napoleon Apartments.
While the name Napoleon conjures up images of one of the greatest military generals in human history who played a key role in the French Revolution in the sunset of the 18th century, Napoleon III is a whole different individual.
Napoleon III was the nephew of Napoleon I, who ruled France as the last monarch from 1852 to 1870. While construction of the Louvre began in the 16th century, it was Napoleon III who ultimately completed construction of the Louvre, thus completing the “Grand Design” envisaged by several kings of France over the centuries.
This is not surprising for a man who considered himself an architect. Many times, according to reliable accounts, his visitors would find him, “pencil in hand”, working on a plan of a street or a building like someone who was truly immersed in the land of architectural dreams.
Here’s why the Napoleon III apartments are worth a visit
Whether it was the style of Napoleon III or that of French royalty at the time, the opulence and splendor of the Napoleon III apartments in the Louvre speak to one or the other.
The apartments are a treasure and quite impressive for their size. The high roof and walls are adorned with dazzling chandeliers quite massive for their size.
In each of the many rooms are delicate furnishings, gorgeous burgundy fabrics; thick and shiny curtains; oversized mirrors whose sheer grandeur would make the court of the 19th century appreciated differently.
There is gold in dazzling abundance as well as gilded bronze covering several objects that a monarch would like to surround himself with or lay his eyes on. This includes several exquisite portraits where artistry and genius were fully expressed.
A favorite part of this museum is the Grand Salon. This is where lavishness and exuberance seem to have a happy home. There is incredible opulence on just about every inch of this glitzy structure.
And perhaps no less glamorous is the State Dining Room. It was the site of lavish dinners and elaborate feasts, hosted not by presidents, but by powerful monarchs who had an idea of how food should be prepared and served.
The dining table here is huge and surrounded by several red leather chairs that can seat around 40 guests. The ceiling, which appears to be high in the sky, features paintings by Eugène Appert, a famous 19th-century Parisian portrait photographer.
Three rooms on the terrace side contain antique terracottas, porcelains and many other magnificent works of art.
What to know before visiting Napoleon’s apartments in the Louvre
Those who want to see Napoleon’s apartments in the Louvre should head straight to the Richelieu wing of the Louvre. This wing is on the north side of the complex.
Once here, visitors should proceed to the first floor. The apartments start in room 544.
- How much does it cost to visit the Louvre? Entrance to the Louvre is €17, which at today’s exchange rate is just under US$17. This is for online tickets. At the museum, entrance tickets cost €15, or about US$15.
One of France’s most enduring monuments is the Louvre. This old palace is huge. For those who want to discover a single slice of this giant building, Napoleon’s apartments are a good starting point!