The world’s most popular museum, the Louvre, has reopened its doors after months of closure, but while visiting it will now be a slightly different experience, its star attraction should at least be free of crowds.
The Mona Lisa, normally mobbed by people trying to get their own cellphone snap of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, can now be viewed by visitors following a one-way route and observing social distancing.
Soon after opening, photos showed an orderly line of people waiting for their glimpse of the portrait.
Anyone wanting to visit the Louvre, which shut its doors back in March as the Covid-19 pandemic locked down Paris, will be required to pre-book a time slot.
Inside, face masks are compulsory and social distancing of at least one meter will be enforced.
Time slots have been available to prebook since June 15, although the Louvre’s website says that there may be a limited number of same-day time slots during off-peak times. Also worth remembering: even if you’re able to visit for free (e.g. if you’re under under 25 and resident in the European Union) you still have to nab your slot in advance. Another tip: inside, it’ll be card payments only.
Children under 11 do not need to wear masks, but all other visitors must have their face covered, as must staff. Visitors will also be greeted with hand sanitizer stations at entrances and must disinfect their hands before entering the building.
Social distancing applies to tour groups too – groups of up to 25 people can wander around the museum together, but in order to maintain social distancing, they’ll have to wear headsets and the tour guide must use a microphone.
There will be other notable differences. For the time being, the cloakroom will be closed – so it’s worth packing light – and some galleries will remain closed, including the French sculptures of the Middle Ages and Renaissance section and the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Lack of tourists
As the museum opened on Monday, some Parisian tour guides organized a protest outside the museum, holding up images of the Mona Lisa’s face. The protestors were highlighting what they felt was a lack of support for the tourism sector over the past few months.
The Louvre has been closed since March 13, with reported losses of over 40 million euros.
The museum is one of the city’s top tourist attractions, but even as Paris opens back up – with foreign travel far more limited than pre-Covid – it’s likely to be largely local residents wandering the Louvre’s halls.
In the meantime, some are looking forward to the museum being quieter than normal.
Journalist Katy Scott, who moved to Paris during lockdown, said she is looking forward to experiencing the museum’s highlights without the usual crowds.
“I’m looking forward to nabbing a front row spot in front of any artwork I like without having to elbow tourists out the way,” she says.
“And I hopefully won’t have to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa through a smartphone!”