ISG Picks
99 Rue Paul Bert 62300 Lens

Suggested by Angela Oestmann

In the last decade the Louvre has opened several “outposts” or projects supported and supplied by the Louvre Paris. One of those is the Louvre-Lens in Northern France, opened in 2012. The region used to be the most important mining and steel- producing area, and on the way, you see the huge slag heaps as the only hills in the completely flat Lorraine landscape. It is a smart idea to enliven an economically depressed area with a world-famous museum. We went to Lens on Ascension Day and found the area and the museum busy but not overrun. The town itself and all its architecture is clearly that of mining villages, with its terraced houses of different sizes.

As with all of these Louvre sites outside of Paris the Louvre-Lens is filled with items from the reserves. The upside is that the museum contains exhibits rarely or never seen before. And it means that there is much more space for each item, and that makes for a very pleasant visiting experience. 

Getting to the museum itself gives you a breath-taking view of its architecture, a metal-clad building with two wings with a glass centre, in the middle of a modern design park with a variety of shapes and paths along dry soil plants which seem to do very well on this former mining site. 

Entry is free to the wing with the Louvre items, referred to as The Gallery of Times. 

Presented chronologically from the 4th millennium BC to the mid-19th century, it offers a unique journey through the history of art and humanity. Crossing eras, techniques and civilisations, it allows visitors to contemplate the Louvre's collections in a different way, with an eye to contemporary art. (From the website) 

Visitors stroll easily between incredible treasures from prehistory to present times, and you can learn a lot about each item (in French, Dutch and English) including its time of creation. 

In the other wing temporary exhibitions take place, currently the history of (mostly French) landscape painting. 

Although it takes about two hours to get to Lens (and it’s not a trip through lovely landscape), the visit is definitely worth it.

  • Louvre

Coming Up

ISG Picks

ISG Picks