Saturday 17: 30. A helicopter of the gendarmerie patrol above the Royal Palace. A procession of the “yellow vests” crosses the rue de Rivoli under the gaze of the passers-by and tourists. At the foot of the pyramid, stands a other gathering: a long queue that stretches up to the place du Carrousel. Jean-Luc Martinez can blow, the audience is waiting for you for the night new version of the museum of the Louvre. “We did not know what to expect in this period of the end of the holidays,” says the president director. After having announced the record high of 10.2 million visitors for the year 2018, the most visited museum in the world launches the free evenings every first Saturday of the month from 18h to 21: 45 “to visit the museum otherwise.”

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Nearly 11,000 visitors participated in the first night free, Saturday at the Louvre. Michael Naulin

Finished, therefore, the formula that, since 1996, offered a free guided tour of the Louvre on the first Sunday of the month from October to march. “Saturday, we can offer cultural mediation, performing arts, music. What we could not do on Sunday”, points out Jean-Luc Martinez. The main targets of these free evenings: families and the ile-de-france. For this first, two routes are offered. On one side, take the free tour and the free wings, Denon, and Sully. Of the other, access, also free of charge but upon reservation, to the activities proposed in the Richelieu wing. To take advantage of this part of the museum, it had to be quick. Put online at the beginning of December, the 3,000 seats are parts in one hour.

peaceful Atmosphere and family in the Richelieu wing ten activities were proposed in the Richelieu wing, including a concert of brass and percussion instruments by the Orchestra of Paris. Michael Naulin

“One has the sensation of being privileged.” Bracelets blue around the wrist, Celecio and his family have managed to have their place to the Richelieu wing and relish the pleasure of strolling through the aisles without being rushed. “There is much less stress that day,” says the Parisian, which was not returned to the Louvre in the family for years. The atmosphere is quiet, relaxed. One whispers in the alleys. In the middle of the cour Puget, the musicians of the Orchestre de Paris will offer a concert of brass and percussion, between the statues of the Seventeenth century.

Games of track and questionnaires to the program. Michael Naulin

On the upper floor, the games of track and corners readings are offered for children. A series of activities driven in particular by students of the School of the Louvre, which are at the disposal of the visitors to explain the works. A-side “VIP” enjoyed by Myriam and Amin, two Parisians of 22 and 24 years old. The Louvre, there were more. Too much of the world.

the Direction the court Khorsabad for a visit to the torch. Space majestic of the museum, the hall houses the statues of monumental assyrian. Immersed in the dark, the small groups are moving in the gloom, lit and accompanied by the students of the School of the Louvre. In the light of the lamp, appear the beards of the majestic Lamassu, winged bulls androcéphales, guardians of the cities the assyrian. “We did not know what it was going to give, there was never a trial,” said Hadrian, student and guide for the evening. It was necessary to revise our first-year courses, but we still remain very general in our explanations. We only have 5 minutes per group so it is a little frustrating.” Visitors also would have appreciated a visit a little further. But the magic operates. The shadows of the statues reveal their large size, the eye stops on the details that are illuminated. The space of a moment, we imagine an archaeologist.

Visit to the torch of the collections of assyrian in the Cour Khorsabad. Michael Naulin

Atmosphere more mundane to the floor. In the apartments of Napoleon III, the crowd slips into the narrow passageway to assist in the interpretation of piano works of Chopin, Debussy and Schubert. In total, around a dozen activities are offered throughout the evening. What to rejoice in a public, very family-come in the majority of Paris and its region. Try converted for the Louvre.

1h30 tail to the wings, Denon, and Sully

In the wings, Denon, and Sully, accessible for free without a reservation, different atmosphere. The public is quite young, more tourism, too. The usual hubbub of the Louvre has resumed its rights. And we had to be patient. 1h30 of queue before you can go. If they are happy about the free event, some are a little frustrated. “We were not aware for the booking”, cry out Elizabeth and Steve, who came from Guadeloupe. It is their first time in the parisian museum. Then necessarily, in the direction of The mona lisa . The table is classic: a crowd in front of the 77 cm x 53 cm the work of Leonardo da Vinci. The response: “I didn’t think it was too small!”

Still as much of the world to capture “The mona lisa” in the photo. Michael Naulin

Venus de Milo , Victory of Samothrace , Great sphinx of Tanis … the stars of The museum are aware of their success as usual. In front of the monumental painting of the coronation of emperor Napoleon I and coronation of the empress Josephine by David, Jenny, an Italian, was disappointed. Accompanied by French friends, it was thought access to the other wings of the museum. “We wanted to see the rooms dedicated to Ingres, but they are closed so we settled on Napoleon.” It will have to be satisfied with that.

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Families and young people were in the majority for the launch of the night free on the first Saturday of the month. Michael Naulin

We admit willingly on the side of the organization, some details still have to be corrected. The first Saturday was a test. Successful test. For the activities, and the wings available on reservation, the quota of 3000 seats could be revised upwards, while emphasizing the comfort of the visit. 21h, the latest arrivals are not accepted any more. Patrice and Sylvie thought they could make a small tower. This is only a postponement for this couple in paris. “It is very well the night on the weekend, the week I work in the suburbs and I don’t have the time. We will come the next month!”