From Van Gogh to Monet – the Orsay Museum truly is an Impressionist gem. Built as a train station in the 19th-century's Belle Époque, Musée d'Orsay was transformed into a museum to house France's collection of 19th-century paintings when the Louvre literally ran out of space. Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Sisley, and a stunning collection of Van Goghs.
It's been 30 years since the Musée d'Orsay was transformed from that train station into the world's greatest museum dedicated to Impressionist art. So, 2016 is a perfect time to visit. In fact, this is the one museum you won't want to miss on your trip to Paris.
If you want to go directly to the amazing Impressionist collection, zip up to the fifth floor, where natural light illuminates room after room of these masterpieces.
Because the Musée d'Orsay is smaller than the Louvre you can cover a lot of art in a morning and still have time for lunch in the restored Belle Époque restaurant, which was once the dining room of the Orsay train station hotel.
By the way, don't miss the view from the observation deck on Level 5 (next to the snack bar). You'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Seine — from Place de la Concorde to the Louvre.
Museée d'Orsay is very popular. On most days you can expect to wait in line for an hour or more just to buy tickets.
So, let's talk about getting into the museum without wasting a lot of time standing in lines — something we hate.
We recommend your have the Paris Museum Pass in your pocket. You'll feel like royalty as you cruise past the ticket line and enter through the right-hand door for those who have passes or tickets. It's absolutely the best way to visit d'Orsay and most other Paris museums.
The best way to get the Paris Museum Pass? It comes with the highly-recommended city pass, The Paris Pass — get yours before you leave home. It's easy to buy online, and now you can Save 10% by using our exclusive code when you order your Paris Pass — INSIDERGUIDE.
Another great way to avoid the lineups at Musée d'Orsay is by booking a skip-the-line guided tour of the famous Impressionist museum.
Your guide whisks you past the lines, takes you to the best the museum has to offer, and gives you insights into the Impressionists and other 19th-century artists.
Our favorite activities to book are the private tours that include skip-the-line admittance to the museum — especially those that alos include a guided Louvre tour. Check our Big List of d'Orsay tours, or sign up for one of our recommended tours below. It may be the best money you spend in Paris.
See Rousseau's masterpieces, from The Snake Charmer to The Wedding Party as well as works by his contemporaries — Seurat, Delaunay, Kandinsky and Picasso.
Ends July 17, 2016.
• The original train station, Gare d'Orsay, was completed for the 1900 Exposition Universelle held in Paris. It was used a train station for less than 40 years, and then faced an uncertain fate.
• In World War II the station was used to sort parcels going to prisoners of war.
• The station was almost torn down in 1970, but was saved by the Cultural Minister. Planning to use the Gare d'Orsay as a museum began in 1974. Musée d'Orsay was opened in December 1986.
• Paris' famous fictional detective, Inspector Maigret, meets a suspect at Hotel Gare d'Orsay, located in the building, and eats in the dining room, which is still used as a restaurant today.
• Orson Welle's film of Franz Kafka's The Trial was shot at d'Orsay, long before it became a museum.
MUSEE D'ORSAY ADVISORY 2016 – Suitcases, travel bags and backpacks are not permitted and cannot be left in the cloakroom.
Top Paris Museums
• Louvre Art Museum…
• Musée d'Orsay…
• Musée Picasso…
• Centre Pompidou – Modern Art…
• Skip-the-Line Museum Tours…
• Paris Museum Pass…
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