Our Guide to the
Musée d'Orsay

From Van Gogh to Monet – the Orsay Museum is an Impressionist gem. Built as a train station in the Belle Époque, Musée 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 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.

This is the one museum we never miss when we're in Paris. No matter how many times we see this artwork we still stand in awe before it.

Paris Insiders Tip

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.

Ticket Lines at Musée d'Orsay

Paris Pass

First of all, let's talk about getting into the museum without wasting a lot of time standing in lines — something we hate.

Museée d'Orsay is very popular. On most days you can expect to wait in line for an hour to buy tickets.

That's why we keep recommending 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 d'Orsay and most other Paris museums.

The best way to get a museum pass? We recommmend that you buy the Museum Pass as part of The Paris Pass and that you get yours before you leave home. It's easy to buy only, read our guide to find out more.

And save 10% with this code, exclusive to you, our readers: INSIDERGUIDE.

Guided Tours of the Orsay Museum

Lineup at The Orsay Museum 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.

Musée d'Orsay Facts

Musee D'Orsay

• The original train station, 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. 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.

Musée d'Orsay Must-See list

Manet, Le Dejeuner Sur Lherbe

  • Edouard Manet, Le Déjeuner Sur l'Herbe
  • Edouard Manet, Olympia
  • Edouard Manet, La Blonde Aux Seins Nus
  • Claude Monet, Le Déjeuner Sur l'Herbe
  • Claude Monet, Londres, Le Parlement
  • Claude Monet, Coquelicots
  • Claude Monet, Camille Sur Son Lit De Mort
  • Auguste Renoir, Etude. Torse, Effet de Soleil
  • Auguste Renoir, Danse à la Ville

Van Gogh Starry Night

  • Vincent Van Gogh, La Nuit Étoilée
  • Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait de l'Artiste, 1889
  • Vincent Van Gogh, L'Église d'Auvers-sur-Oise
  • Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Source
  • Mary Cassatt, Jeune Fille au Jardin
  • Eugène Delacroix, Passage d'un Gué au Maroc
  • Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, La Danse
  • Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Ugolin
  • Gustave Moreau, Orphée

Edgar Degas

  • Edgar Degas, Danseuses Bleues
  • Edgar Degas, Répétition d'un Ballet Sur la Scène
  • Edgar Degas, La Classe de Danse
  • Gustave Courbet, L'Origine du Monde
  • Alfred Sisly, La Neige à Louveciennes
  • Alfred Sisley, Allée Se Peupliers aux Environs de Moret-Sur-Loing
  • Camille Pissarro, La Bergère
  • Camille Pissarro, Femme au fichu vert
  • Berthe Morisot, Sur un Banc a Bois de Boulogne
  • Paul Gauguin, Et l'Or de Leur Corps

Orsay Museum Information

• Open from 9:30 am to 6 pm
• Late Night: Thursday until 9:45 pm
• Closed Mondays, December 25, January 1 and May 1
• Metro: Tuileries (walk across the park and the pedestrian bridge)
• Metro: Solférino
• RER: Musée d'Orsay (right in front of the museum)
Museum Website »
Free admission to the Musée d'Orsay is included with the Paris Museum Pass

Paris Insiders Tip

Keep your Musée 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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