The present-day Louvre Palace is a vast complex of wings and pavilions on four main levels which, although it looks to be unified, is the result of many phases of building, modification, destruction and restoration. The Palace is situated in the right-bank of the River Seine between Rue de Rivoli to the north and the Quai François Mitterrand to the south. To the west is the Jardin des Tuileries and, to the east, the Rue de l'Amiral de Coligney (its mostarchitecturally famous façade, created by Claude Perrault) and the Place du Louvre. The complex occupies about 40 hectares and forms two main quadrilateralswhich enclose two large courtyards: the Cour Carrée (“Square Courtyard”), completed under Napoleon I, and the larger Cour Napoleon (“Napoleon Courtyard”) with the Cour du Carrousel to its west, built under Napoleon III. TheCour Napoleon and Cour du Carrousel are separated by the street known as the Place du Carrousel.

The Louvre complex may be divided into the “Old Louvre”: the medieval and Renaissance pavilions and wings surrounding the Cour Carrée, as well as the Grande Galerie extending west along the bank of the Seine; and the “New Louvre”: those 19th Century pavilions and wings extending along the north and south sides of the Cour Napoleon along with their extensions to the west (north and south of the Cour du Carrousel) which were originally part of the long-gone Palais des Tuileries (Tuileries Palace).

Some 51,615 sq m (555,000 sq ft) in the palace complex are devoted to public exhibition floor space. The complex is so vast that one could visit every day for a week and still not be able to give more than a cursory look to each of the exhibits.


The Louvre Palace (FrenchPalais du LouvreIPA: [palɛ dy luvʁ]), on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris, is a former royal palace situated between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. Its origins date back to the medieval period, and its present structure has evolved in stages since the 16th century.

According to the French historian Henri Sauval, the Louvre gets its name from a Frankish word leovar or leower, signifying a fortified place. But this is now known to be wrong; no such word exists, and Wolf derives Louvre instead from Latin Rubras meaning `red soil’ (H. Wolf, Louvre, Révue internationale d’onomastique, 21 (1969), 223–234; Keith Briggs, The Domesday Book castle LVVRE, Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 40 (2008), 113-118). It was the actual seat of power in France until Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1682, bringing the government perforce with him. The Louvre remained the nominal, or formal, seat of government to the end of the Ancien Régime in 1789. Since then it has housed the celebrated Musée du Louvre as well as various government departments.