Built as a train station in the Belle Époque, Musee d'Orsay (the Orsay Museum), was transformed into a museum to house France's collection of 19th-century paintings when the Louvre Art Museum literally ran out of space.
The Orsay Museum is certainly the place to get your fix of Impressionist painters: Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Sisley and a stunning collection of Van Goghs.
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 Musee 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.
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 to buy tickets.
But, with the Paris Museum Pass 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 Paris museums.
We recommmend that you buy the Museum Pass as part of a combination Paris City Pass and that you get yours before you leave home.
Line up at the d'Orsay
Another great way to skip the lines at Musée d'Orsay is by booking a 2-hour 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. It may be the best money you spend in Paris!
Van Gogh at Musee d'Orsay
Gare d'Orsay was completed for the 1900 Exposition Universelle held in Paris.
• 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.
• Musee d'Orsay was opened in December 1986.
• Orson Welle's film of Franz Kafka's The Trial was shot at d'Orsay.
• 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.
Keep your Musee d'Orsay ticket and you'll get reduced rates at the Gustave Moreau National Museum and Palais Garnier (Paris Opera) for the next seven days.
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