Explore the stunning Musée d'Orsay, the museum built in the old Gare d'Orsay station building. It is one of Paris' most opulent and impressive buildings and houses a brilliant museum collection.
What you need to know about Musée d'Orsay
City: Paris, France.
Transport links: Solférino (Metro Line 12), Musée d'Orsay (RER C Train Line - Yellow).
Access: Entry to the museum (including both permanent and temporary exhibitions) costs €14 for adults, €11 for concessions. There are certain times when entry is free such as the first Sunday of every month. At that time anyone can gain free access.
Also keep your ticket after your visit because for the week after you will be able to get reduced entry to other attractions like Palais Garnier.
Fact: The building that now houses Musée d'Orsay was built in 1900 as a train station (Gare d'Orsay) but by the 1930s the station's platforms were becoming too small to continue to service the bigger train that had come into service. There were proposals to demolish it, or to turn it into a hotel but in 1977 the French government took the decision to turn the station into a museum. By 1986 the conversion was complete and stands now on the banks of the Seine as one of the most impressive landmarks in Paris.
Musée d'Orsay houses seriously impressive impressionist art
The collection of impressionist art at Musée d'Orsay is amazing. Whether you know your Degas from your Renoir, or your Monet from your Seurat you will love the artwork on show.
You can learn all about the history of these pieces and see works that will amaze as you stroll through the permanent exhibition of some of the finest painters from that era.
Over three million people visit the museum each year as its popularity continues to rise.
Spend time gazing at the giant clock that the building contains
The process of morphing the old station building into Musée d'Orsay has naturally meant that significant modifications have had to be made over the years. Exhibits, both permanent and temporary, need to be appropriately housed after all.
One fixture of the old station that lives on is the giant clock that features in the wall is a lovely piece of engineering and a throwback to the past history of the building.
Musée d'Orsay gives more space for its pieces
Nothing compares to the Louvre in terms of grandeur. Both its building and the collection it houses are unparalleled. The plus point however of Musée d'Orsay is that the collection is afforded more space to shine. There are less paintings and pieces near one another and the component parts of the collection really stand out to be savoured and enjoyed. It feels less claustrophobic when you view this collection which is never a bad thing.
Be smart when visiting Musée d'Orsay and save time
As covered earlier. The museum is popular. Once you enter and potentially pick up a guide (Globedge hint... get the guide) you will maybe notice a load of visitors who are waking around the ground floor aimlessly and without purpose. Ignore them all. Immediately go to the fifth floor. There you will find the temporary special exhibition that houses various impressive visiting pieces. If you get there earlier in the day then you can avoid some of the crowds that will congregate around the fifth floor throughout the day when they learn of the epic exhibits to be found up there. The impressionist galleries up there are also naturally quite a draw.
Your last port of call can be the second floor. It should be quiet relative to the other floors and is where you will find a lot of sculpture, furniture and art. It is the most understated part of Musée d'Orsay but worth seeing nonetheless if you have ample time.
It should be easy to see the entire museum in around three hours without having to rush, so perhaps get there early in the morning and dedicate the time before lunch to wandering the various exhibitions.
Is Musée d'Orsay worth a visit compared to other museums in Paris?
There is nothing like the Louvre admittedly but that is almost a special case and not comparable. Of all other museums in Paris - there are a lot by the way - it is fair to consider Musée d'Orsay the best and the one that should be prioritised above all others when planning your itinerary before you travel to the French capital.