A visit to Paris is always accompanied by a dilemma: which museums to visit? The French capital has so many that the choice is not easy. During our last stay, we visited the Musée d’Orsay.
If you want to do the same, this article is for you. I give you a maximum of information about the Musée d’Orsay, its visit and its collections, and finish by giving my opinion. But, I warn you, I am not a great art connoisseur!
What is the Musée d’Orsay?
The Musée d’Orsay is a French national museum that opened in 1986. Previously, the building was a train station. This gives it its imposing character and makes its interior atypical. When you enter the Musée d’Orsay, the view is impressive. It is in this place that Amélie took the most beautiful pictures of our visit.
The objective of the Musée d’Orsay is to highlight Western art. The period targeted is between 1898 and 1914. The Musée d’Orsay is considered a world reference.
The painting, sculpture, photography and decorative arts are represented through more than 3,600 pieces.
The Musée d’Orsay comprises a set of permanent and temporary collections.
Where is the Musée d’Orsay?
The Musée d’Orsay is on the esplanade Valérie Giscard d’Estaing in Paris. This address is in the 7yh arrondissement of Paris, south of the Seine.
If you walk on the Pont Royal or the magnificent Pont des Arts, you arrive at the edge of another famous museum, the Louvre.
How to get to the Musée d’Orsay?
If driving in Paris is hell, public transportation is nice. So we always choose walking or public transportation to get around.
To get to the Musée d’Orsay by public transport, you can use:
- Metro: line 12 (Solférino station)
- RER: line C (Musée d’Orsay station)
- Bus lines 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 87 and 94.
If you come by cab, the stop and pick up for cabs are on the Anatole-France quay.
Finally, if despite my advice, you prefer to drive your own vehicle, park at one of these two paying parking lots:
- Carrousel du Louvre parking lot
- Parking Bac Montalembert.
What are the opening hours of the Musée d’Orsay?
The Musée d’Orsay’s opening hours are:
- Monday : closed
- Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.
- Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
How much does a ticket for the Musée d’Orsay cost?
The entrance fee for the Musée d’Orsay is €16. This is a very reasonable price to see so many works of art in such a beautiful building.
Admission is free for people under 18 years of age (for all nationalities) or 25 years of age (for citizens of the European Union) and for people with disabilities.
On Thursday evening, the price of a late entry (after 6p.m.) is €12.
Do I have to book in advance to visit the Musée d’Orsay?
Yes, it will save you a lot of time. We didn’t. For a Thursday visit in March, we waited nearly 30 minutes to enter the museum.
But people who already had a ticket could go through a faster line and had almost no wait.
So, I guess buying your ticket in advance becomes even more useful when the crowds are high in the summer or on the weekend.
How long does a visit to the Musée d’Orsay last?
I always find estimating the length of a visit to an art museum very complicated.
The Musée d’Orsay announces an average visit duration of 2 hours. With Amélie, we shortened it a bit by being very quick on the sculptures. But if you are passionate and stay a long time in front of some works, the visit can easily last 4 or 5 hours.
How busy is the Musée d’Orsay?
The Musée d’Orsay attracts nearly 3 million visitors per year. That’s less than half the number of the Louvre, but the number is still very high.
Attendance therefore varies from average to high. If possible, book your tickets and prefer visits during the week and outside the summer.
However, even during the peak periods, the visit remains pleasant.
What services does the museum offer (guided tours, audio guides, store…)?
Renting an audio tour can be a good idea. It allows you to have relevant information and an expert eye on the works of art, while orienting you on the must-see pieces in the Musée d’Orsay. Renting an audio guide costs €6 for an adult and €3.50 for a child.
Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian.
Guided tours are also organized, but they are not available every day and do not cover the entire museum. For example, on the day of our visit, you could attend a guided tour in English of the most famous works of art in the museum and a tour in French of the exhibition “Pastels: from Millet to Redon”.
To attend a guided tour, an online reservation on the Musée d’Orsay website is required.
If you wish to bring back a souvenir of your visit, there is a bookstore boutique at the exit of the museum. There is also a souvenir counter (stationery, pictures, jewelry…) on the 5th floor.
Finally, you have catering areas:
- The Restaurant: the chef Yann Landureau adapts his menu to the rhythm of the seasons and the exhibitions.
- Café Campagne: a contemporary menu in an establishment located at the exit of the Impressionist Gallery.
- The Parvis Kiosk located on the Bellechasse square of the museum.
What are the must-sees when visiting the Musée d’Orsay?
It is difficult for me to be precise about the collections of the Musée d’Orsay, because as I have written several times, I am not an art lover.
The strong point of the museum is its important collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. It is close to 1,100 pieces.
Throughout your visit, rooms highlight artistic trends. Thus, we could see collections of “pastels”, self-portraits, paintings featuring nature, but also sculptures, models…
In other areas of the museum, some rooms are dedicated to one or few artists.
Among the works of art visible at the Musée d’Orsay, you can admire artists such as :
- Gustave Courbet
- Edgar Degas
- Édouard Manet
- Auguste Renoir
- Claude Monet
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
- Odile Redon
- Camille Corot
- Auguste Rodin
- Henri Amédée Fouques
- Henri Chapu
Visit of the Musée d’Orsay by a non-art lover : my opinion !
The difference between the outside and inside of the Musée d’Orsay is striking. Not very attractive from the outside, the first view you get in the museum once you pass the entrance is magnificent.
Take a map to organize your visit. You have the center of the museum to catch your eye, but most of the works are on the sides.
The density is impressive. Thousands of paintings and sculptures await you. As laymen, we visited the parts of the museum one by one.
To be able to admire and preserve the works, the luminosity is low. This is not a problem, but the signs near the paintings should be larger and more legible.
As it is impossible to stop for 5 minutes in front of each work of art or you will sleep in the museum, we worked with totally personal criteria, stopping in front of the ones we thought were the most beautiful.
I can easily imagine someone like my brother spending 5 hours in this museum without getting bored. On our side, a two-hour visit is enough. We didn’t see everything, but as soon as we felt that the pleasure gave way to the feeling of obligation to see everything, we stopped.
Not used to this type of museum, I enjoyed it without loving it. In its theme, it is a reference, but I would need a more developed artistic fiber to take more pleasure!
Whether it is for an artistic discovery or to fulfill the desires of an enthusiast, the Musée d’Orsay is a museum that I recommend. Moreover, being less crowded than the Louvre, it allows you to observe the works of art with more tranquility.