The cost of exclusivity
It’ll cost a cool €30,000 (about $34,000) for up to four people to experience the Louvre in this unparallelled fashion. Compared to the budget-friendly €15 price tag per person for regular admission, it’s a significant, stupendous expense.
On average, the Louvre Museum in Paris welcomes 23,000 visitors each day. A private tour, while costly, involves just four guests at a time.
Musée du Louvre/Olivier Ouadah
Family Twist’s founder, Magali Dechelette, started offering the private Louvre tour three years ago after a client from Shanghai told her that his ultimate fantasy was to be alone at the Louvre. “He had been to the museum many times before and absolutely loved it and asked if I could make a private visit happen,” says Dechelette. “It took me a few months to work it out, but I managed to pull it off.”
A ticketed “performance”
The evening she created from this conversation unfolds more like a performance than a typical tour: Guests are picked up from their hotel promptly at 6:30 p.m.
A Tesla drives through the streets of Paris, depositing guests at the main entrance of the Louvre, instantly recognizable with its glass and metal I.M. Pei-designed pyramid. This exclusive experience can only take place on the four nights a week the museum closes at 6 p.m. to ensure the crowds of museum-goers have departed.
The 90-minute long private tour of the Louvre is led by an art historian and includes a fun and educational game.
Musée du Louvre/Olivier Ouadah
Dechelette, who has been inside the Louvre more times than she can count and is the host throughout, greets guests and leads them to the medieval section, formerly the dungeon of the 12th-century castle that became the museum in 1793.
There, the group meets its art historian guide, who begins the tour by handing each guest a set of envelopes. Inside each is an image of part of one of the masterpieces on display (the eye of the “Mona Lisa” or the cat in Paolo Veronese’s “The Wedding at Cana”) in the almost 3.9 million square-foot space. For an added element of entertainment, guests are given the challenge of matching the picture with the corresponding work they’ll see at some point on their journey.
The Louvre’s collection includes more than half a million pieces of art, 38,000 of which are exhibited, but this evening, just 90 minutes long, is about savoring a handful of the highlights, such as the ancient Greek statue “Venus di Milo” and Jacques-Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon,” who was the official painter of the namesake emperor.
Leonardo da Vinci’s legendary “Mona Lisa” is a highlight of the private tour offered by a company called Family Twist. Guests will learn about da Vinci’s inspiration for creating this seminal work of art.
Christian Marquardt/Getty Images
But there are a few surprises along the way, including the ballerina dancing on the staircase leading up to “The Winged Victory of Samothrace.” The marble Greek statue dating back to the second century BCE is considered one of the most prominent sculptures in existence today.
The grand finale
Like any great performance, there’s a grand finale, and in this case, unsurprisingly, it’s the “Mona Lisa.” Guests can gaze unhurriedly at the world’s most famous woman as the guide explains Leonardo da Vinci’s inspiration behind this important work of art.
And then, on to the after-party it is: Following the visit, it’s a ten-minute stroll to the Pont des Arts bridge to board a private riverboat for an hour-long cruise down the Seine with Champagne, cheese, caviar and Paris twinkling in the background.
Dechelette says that she has booked a handful of private Louvre visits since the first one three years ago. The takers for these have been a diverse mix from around the world including Dallas and Dubai. “They’ve all been to the Louvre already and now want that over-the-top experience there,” she says.
As for her client from Shanghai, he enjoyed his private visit so much, according to Dechelette, that he’s keen on doing it a second time the next time his travels find him in Paris.
Shivani Vora is a New York City-based writer who travels as often as she can, whether that means going on a walking safari in Tanzania, a mother-daughter trip with her ten year-old in Istanbul or surfing in northern Portugal.