On the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Garden, Orsay is without doubt one of the most beautiful museums in the world – as much for the richness of its collections as the majesty of its architecture. The former railway station, built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900, is a veritable cathedral of the Industrial age, a paean to progress. It also provides a dream setting in which to display the revolutions taking place in Western art in the late 19th century.
Under a massive, light-filled, vaulted nave, the museum presents a matchless multidisciplinary collection across three levels, including, of course, paintings, but also sculpture (Rodin, Bourdelle…), decorative arts (Gaudí, Guimard…), graphic arts, photography and architecture.
The Impressionist revolution
With the advent of photography in the second half of the 19th century, young painters, including Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cézanne, Pissarro and Degas, no longer saw any point in simply trying to capture reality on canvas. Instead, they wanted to transcribe their impressions of reality. Going against the conservatism of the Academy, they started painting changes in light and scenes from daily life, away from the artist’s studio (the invention of supple paint tubes made it easier for them to paint outside!). Pictorially, this translated into games of contrast and complementing colours, creating the famous “Impressionist style.”
Monet, Manet, Renoir…
The Orsay possesses the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world, with more than 1,000 canvases. The top-floor gallery, devoted to the Impressionist movement, is organised around Manet’s innovative Déjeuner sur l’herbe. A visit here includes countless masterpieces, including Monet’s Poppy Field and The Saint-Lazare Station, Pissarro’s Landscape at Éragny, Renoir’s Dance at the Moulin de la Galette and Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen …
Some of the works already show signs of more the abstract style to come, with Cézanne’s geometric still-lifes or Monet’s Waterlilies – of which you can admire other versions at the Musée de l’Orangerie, an agreeable walk across the Seine over the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge. Post-Impressionism can be found on the median level, with 24 canvases by Van Gogh (including Starry Night), as well as works by Seurat (The Circus) and Matisse (Luxury, Peace and Pleasure)…
The museum offers a range of Mini Tours to introduce children to these major movements, allowing children from ages 6 to 15 to enter the art world in a grand setting, but in a fun and age-appropriate manner.
Lunch at the museum
Fancy a sweet treat or a nice comforting meal? No need to leave the museum! The Restaurant with its listed 1900 decor and its breathtaking view of the great nave and the sculpture gallery, and the Café Campana, located at the exit of the Impressionists' gallery and its designer decor, will provide an excellent gourmet break.
Access and contact
Metro Solférino (line 12)
RER Musée d'Orsay (line C)
Bus 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94
Days and opening hours
Every day throughout the year between 9.30 am and 6 pm. Closed on Monday. Closed exceptionally on May 1st and December 25th. Last access at 5pm.
Live waiting time
- Full price: 16 € Reduced price: 13 €.
Free entry for children < 18 years, Job-seeker, disabled people and accompanying persons.
The entrance ticket gives access to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Free for all every first sunday of the month
Included in the Paris Museum Pass.
- Ticketing in number
Guided tour languages
Bulletin board languages
Single mean time tour150 mins
Single services tour
- Unguided individual tours available permanently
- Guided individual tours on request
- Hearing disability
- Mental disability
- Visual disability
- Accessible for self-propelled wheelchairs
- WC + grab handle + adequate space to move
- Site, building totally accessible
75007 Paris 7ème
- Copyright image:
- CRT IDF/Buchet