February 28 2011
If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Louvre at a loose end and you don't feel like paying your respects yet again to the Mona Lisa or the Winged Victory, try this.
In my opinion, Napoleon III's State Apartments are just as opulent as the Chateau of Versailles, just on a smaller scale - both in terms of the size of the apartments and the crowds. If, for whatever reason, you can't visit Versailles, come here instead!
Don't believe me? Here is a photo of the dining room:
Napoleon III, or Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte before he became Emperor, was the nephew of the more widely-known Napoleon I and he was also France's leader in his own right for two decades (between 1850-70.) This was his seat of power - he transferred his executive offices here, he had his private quarters here and he also used it to welcome and entertain guests, including Queen Victoria during her state visit to France in 1855. The rooms have apparently been kept as close to how they were as possible.
Click on the photo below for a panoramic shot of one of the sitting rooms
It operates the same opening hours as the rest of the Louvre (i.e. every day apart from Tuesday from 9am until either 6pm or 10pm) although check in advance, if you can, that the apartments aren't going to be closed for a special reason on the day that you want to visit.
The admission fee is included in price of the standard ticket, which means it's free for 18-25s from the EU if you show your ID.
Take the escalator to the Richelieu wing then take either the stairs or the lift to the 1st floor. It's fairly well signposted, but you can't rely on following the crowds in the same way you can in the Denon wing!