The Musée d’Orsay is an art museum located in the 7th district of Paris right on the left bank of the Seine. The museum is home to major works from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Before it was the Musée d’Orsay it was the Gare d’Orsay, or in English, the Orsay Train Station. From 1900 to 1939, the Gare d’Orsay was one of the most important train stations serving France. As train travel became more popular nationally and internationally, the Gare d’Orsay couldn’t keep up with the new technology and eventually shut down. It then ran as a hotel until 1973. A few years later in 1977, it was decided that the Gare d’Orsay would become the Musée d’Orsay. Now, the museum is home to works by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Jean François Millet, Auguste Rodin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many other exceptional artists.
What To See
The Musée d’Orsay houses six collections: painting, sculpture, photography, graphic art, objets d’art, and architecture. Thus, there is something to see for everyone who visits.
The central passageway of the rez de chaussé, the first floor, is lined with magnificent 19th century sculptures. These meticulously crafted marble, brass, and plaster sculptures are sure to take your breath away. When you enter, you will first be greeted by Jean-Baptiste Carpeux’s “The Four Parts of the World Holding the Celestial Sphere.” As you continue down the passage, you will see the “Seated Lion” by Antoine-Louis Barye and his sculpture of Napoleon I as a Roman Emperor. At the end of the passage, you will find a collection of sculptures by Jean-Baptise Carpeux. The rez de chaussé sets visitors up for an exciting and informative museum visit.
The second floor is home to more artwork as well as the museum’s restaurant. This restaurant has been in operation since the days of the Hotel d’Orsay in the early 1900s! The chef prepares traditional French fare and you dine under beautifully gilded ceilings and sparkling chandeliers. If you’re interested in eating at the Musée d’Orsay, be sure to call and make a reservation in advanced!
On the fifth floor, you will find the museum’s extraordinary Impressionist Gallery. The natural light from above as well as the gallery’s dark grey walls allow visitors to take in all of the nuances found in some of the most famous impressionist works from the 19th and 20th centuries. You will find Monet’s “Cathédral de Rouen” light painting series, “Gabrielle with a Rose” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley’s “View of the Canal Saint-Martin” along side the works of Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, and Édouard Manet (plus many more). This is a must-see gallery.
The Musée d’Orsay often hosts exhibitions alongside its permanent collections. Currently, as of Spring 2016, there is an exhibition on Henri Rousseau titled “The Douanier Rousseau: Archaic Candour” which explores Rousseau’s unique style. The museum also hosts a number of concerts, shows, and cinema spectacles. Make sure to check the Musée d’Orsay website to stay up to date on current exhibitions and events.
One quick note: before you leave the Musée d’Orsay, take a picture at the clock window! It is the perfect place for a photo-op.
Planning Your Visit
The Musée d’Orsay is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday except Monday. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Tickets and Prices
Full Price: €12
Reduced Price: €9 (for non-European Union people ages 18-25, visitors after 4:30 p.m., Thursdays after 6 p.m.)
Guided Tour: €6
There are multiple ways to get to the Musée d’Orsay. You can take RER C to the Musée d’Orsay stop. The museum is also accesable via Metro Line 12, stop Solférino. Busses numbered 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94 all stop at or near the museum, as well. If you will be driving, there is a car park at the Carrousel du Louvre or Bac Montalembert.
For help planning your trip, check out the RATP public transportation website.
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