Guide to Orsay Museum in Paris: Tips, History and Tickets

Ezgi P aktualisiert am July 15, 2021
Top 30 Best Museums to Visit in Paris

You might already know that the Louvre Museum is the most famous museum among the huge variety of museums of Paris and has a broader reputation in the world. Nevertheless, if you ask real art lovers, they will tell you that the Musée d'Orsay is the real treasure of Paris. Just a couple of random paintings from this one could do enough to make a collection worldwide famous. Furthermore, the Musée d'Orsay is a perfect complementary visit to add on the Louvre Museum to experience a real sense of art.

By covering the years between 1848 and 1914, the Orsay Museum's collections start where the Louvre ones end and reveal the dramatic break through in painting. That break from tradition grew beyond the painting and even evolved the definition of art in the most general terms. All in all, you can really enjoy discovering the emergence of the modern art through this visit !

In addition, the building of Orsay Museum is a great treat for such a unique collection as well. The former train station, a symbolic building for the modernity in Paris, was transformed into a great stage of art. Probably, you have been hearing all these big names Monet, Cézanne, Rodin... here is the best place to meet them !

In this article, we will go through all the useful information you need to know about the Orsay Museum of Paris : Exhibitions, tickets, tours, history... Continue reading and learn about this landmark of Paris.

Before starting, let us remind you that if you are planning your trip to Paris right now, you can benefit from our offers in our official Paris Ticket Shop. We have great handy offers with Skip the Line Entrance Tickets to every important museum of Paris. Enjoy an easy trip to Paris !

What can I see in the Orsay Museum ?

As mentioned above, Orsay Museum has the best collection of modern painting. In comparison with other art museums of the world, it has the largest portions of art from great masters like Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Pissarro, Gaugin, Courbet and many others are all present.

The ground floor has a great line of statues in the middle where you can see for example, the replica of the Statue of Liberty (yes, the big one was made in Paris too), Hercules and Atlas of Carpeaux along with many other.

The rooms at both sides of this lane invite you to a magnificent journey from 1950s to 1870s between the great masters and amazing new talents of which name we mentioned above.

A huge novelty was the increasing importance of nature and the ordinary life instead of great ancient and classic scenes of the past. This is why the Orsay Museum generates cheer and joy while the Louvre Museum is boosting the virtues of human civilization.

The second floor has the terraces named as Seine and Rodin. Of course, the Rodin Museum is the place to be for enjoying the peak of the sculpture. The good news is that in here you can find a good selection from Rodin as well together with works from his student Pompon in medals, busts and sculptures.

The Amont Pavillon is the name for the corners at each floor that are mostly separated for the decorative arts. The fifth floor is particularly worth to see to gaze over Paris behind a giant clock.

The Paintings not to miss in the Orsay Museum :

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette
  • Edouard Manet, The Luncheon on the Grass
  • Goustave Courbet, A Burial at Ornans
  • Eugéne Delacroix, Arab Horses Fighting in a Stable
  • Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhône
  • Claude Monet, La Rue Montorgueil in Paris
  • Edgar Degas, The Little Dancer Aged 14 Years by Degas
  • Paul Cézanne, The Bridge at Maincy

Among thousands of works, including many masterpieces, the best solution is having a plan to save some of your precious time.

Tickets and Guided Tours for Orsay Museum

You may know that in big cities like Paris, buying museum tickets in advance is mandatory. Everybody must book a time-slot so the museum can control the number of people visiting the museum at the same time. Orsay Museum is no exception. You have 3 interesting options for Orsay Museum Tickets :

If you like to visit at your own pace, we rec ommend you the second option with the audioguide included. 

  • To save time, money and avoid hassle, you can also prepare your trip by buying the Paris Museum Pass. It gives access to more than 50 museums in Paris including the Orsay Museum. A must-have !

The Orsay Museum Visiting Hours & Days :

  • Opens daily at 9:30 except Mondays
  • Closes at 18:00 except Thursdays the Museum closes at 21:45
  • In addition to Mondays, May 1st and December 25th are the off days

When it is best to visit the Orsay Museum ?

The early morning hours always save some time and provide an hour with an easier crowd. If it fits into your program, consider Thursday because of extending hours when the Musée d'Orsay is least crowded. In that case, you can arrive in the afternoon hours an enjoy there until 8 or 9 pm.

How long does it take to visit Orsay Museum ?

The real fans of art would easily spend 3 or 4 hours inside. But many visitors come wondering to see 10 to 15 primary pieces in 1 hour or so. Both ways are OK as long as you are prepared for it.

Besides, a big number of guests have plans to make a coffee or lunch break behind the giant clock at the 5th floor. Because of the location, the prices are a bit high. Yet, the view through the glass is amazing. We recommend the experience.

The History of Orsay Museum

Let's start with the history of the building and go back to the turn of the 20th century. For the Universal Exhibition in the year 1900, the city of Paris came up with great constructions. Bridges, boulevards, museums, metro facilities were accomplished.

Among those, there was as well a new train station called Gare d'Orsay that was combined with a hotel having 370 rooms. After serving for a few decades for longer distances, Orsay became a central station for suburban trains. Finally in 1970s, a hotel project was brought up in this place. But the Ministry of Culture of France had another and better idea about this place. The project for the Museum was finished and Musée d'Orsay opened in 1986.

So the city of Paris applied a new and clear classification for the art exhibitions in terms of the time. The Louvre Museum kept all the pieces dated until 1848 and Orsay became the destination for the works from the years between 1848 and 1914. And the newest section was spared for the Center George Pompidou.

Considering the fact that Paris had been the capital city of art in the 19th century, Orsay Museum became the collector of a remarkable generation of painters from an era called "Belle Epoque". The new wave of art known as impressionism led by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-August Renoir etc. found their home here.

Orsay Museum in Paris in France

Facts about Orsay Museum

  • The former train station was so favored by movie makers that it was used by great directors like Orson Wells or Bernardo Bertolucci
  • In 1970s, the first intentions were to construct a hotel instead of the trains station but the French minister of culture intervened to turn it into a museum
  • The conversion into a museum was done in 1986 and the Museum was opened in November 29th of that year
  • Before the train station, the same spot in Paris was used by the Council of State, which was destroyed in 1871 during the Paris Commune
  • There are almost 100.000 pieces in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay
  • Around 3000 of the works are in display
  • Three consecutive times in recent years, the Orsay Museum has been awarded as the best museum of the world by travelers' choice

Contact 

  • Address : 1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
  • Phone number : +33 (0)1 40 49 48 14 
  • Official Website : www.musee-orsay.fr/en 
  • Metro Station : Solférino, Lines 12
  • RER Train Stop : Musée d'Orsay, Line RER-C
  • Bus Stop : Musée d'Orsay, Lines 73 or Henry de Montherlant, Lines 68, 69, 87
  • Opening Time : 9:30 except Mondays

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