All About the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Highlights and Visitor Tips

Musee D"Orsay Interior, Musee D'Orsay, Paris, France
houseofhall/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the world's most-visited museums, the Musée d'Orsay houses the largest collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative objects produced between 1848-1914, showcasing many of the most remarkable works of the early modern era.

Giving visitors a detailed and breathtaking look at the birth of modern painting, sculpture, design, and even photography, the Orsay's permanent collection spans from neoclassicism and romanticism to impressionism, expressionism, and art nouveau design.

 Highlights from the world-class collection include masterpieces by artists including Ingres, Delacroix, Monet, Degas, Manet, Gaugin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh.

Read related: Make sure to consult our list of the best impressionist museums in Paris to expand your understanding of this exciting movement.

Location and Contact Info:

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur
7th arrondissement
Metro: Solferino (Line 12)
RER: Musee d'Orsay (Line C)
Bus: Lines 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, and 94

The museum is located in the Saint-Germain des Pres neighborhood, between Quai Anatole France and Rue de Lille, and faces the Seine River on the left bank. The museum is also a five minute walk across the river from the Jardin des Tuileries.

Also nearby:

Information by phone:

  • +33(0)1 40 49 48 14
  • +33(0)1 40 49 49 78

Visit the website

Opening Hours:

9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Tuesdays through Sundays)

9:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. (Thursdays)

Closed Mondays.

Closed : May 1st and Dec. 25th.

Admission:

For current admission fees, see this page.

  • Free for all visitors on the first Sunday of every month.
  • Free for visitors under age 18.
  • Free for visitors age 18-25 who are citizens of an EU member state.
  • Free for unemployed visitors.
  • Free for disabled visitors.
  • Free for holders of a Paris Museum Pass.

Guided Museum Tours:

  • Masterpieces of the Musée d'Orsay​ Tour is an English-language tour that provides individual visitors with a 1.5 hour overview of the permanent collections. The tour runs Tuesday to Saturday. See the official website for current times and prices. 
  • Various Thematic Group Tours are available in areas such as Great Works of Art in the Musée d'Orsay, Great Artistic Movements, From Academism to Impressionism, The Era of Impressionist Exhibitions, and After Impressionism (1886-1914). Times, dates, and themes vary.

Accessibility:

Fortunately, all levels of this museum are wheelchair-accessible. Individuals assisting disabled visitors are admitted to the museum free of charge. In addition, wheelchairs are available at the coat check. Rental is free, but a passport or driver's license is required as a security deposit

Shopping and Dining at the Museum:

The museum gift shop and bookstore is open every day except Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (open until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday.)

The museum restaurant is located on the middle level. Serving simple, if a bit expensive, meals in an ornate setting, the restaurant features elaborate ceiling frescoes and carvings.

Expect to pay 25-50 Euros for a meal (approx. $33-$67). No reservations.

Restaurant telephone: +33 (0) 1 45 49 47 03

Temporary Exhibits:

Musée d'Orsay​ curates special exhibits and thematic events on a regular basis. Visit this page for detailed information on upcoming exhibits and special events.

Make the Most of Your Visit:

Follow my Top 5 Musee d'Orsay Visitor Tips to ensure your visit is an enriching and exciting one.

Orientation and Collection Highlights

The permanent collection at Musée d'Orsay spans four main levels and a terrace exhibition space. The collection is presented chronologically and according to artistic movement.

Ground Floor:

The Ground Floor (not to be confused with the European first floor, which is the second floor in the U.S.) features works produced from 1848 to the early 1870's.

 The right-side galleries focus on the evolution of historical painting and on the Academic and pre-symbolist schools. Highlights include works by Ingres, Delacroix, Moreau, and early works of Edgar Degas, who would later become an important figure in impressionist painting. 

Meanwhile, the left-side galleries focus on Naturalism, Realism, and pre-impressionism. Important works by Courbet, Corot, Millet,and Manet can be found here. Major works include Millet's The Angelus (1857-1859) and Manet's infamous 1863 painting Le dejeuner sur l'herbe (Lunch on the Grass) which depicts a nude woman picnicking with two clothed men.

Architecture, sculpture and decorative objects on this level include Second-Empire models and objects belonging to the mid-19th century eclecticism movement.

The Middle Level:

This floor holds an important collection of late 19th century paintings, pastels, and decorative objects, including six rooms reserved for Art Nouveau decoration.

The galleries facing the Seine feature Naturalist and Symbolist painting as well as decorations from public monuments. Foreign painting, including works by Klimt and Munch, is featured alongside French painting. The South galleries include the later works of Maurice Denis, Roussel, and Bonnard.

The "Upper Level" (2):

This next level  shows the emergence of innovative, unconventional techniques in painting and pastels by neoimpressionists, Nabists, and the Pont-Aven painters. Major works by Gaugin, Seurat, Signac, and Toulouse-Lautrec are here. Meanwhile, small format painting is shown on this level in a dedicated gallery.

Top Floor/Upper Level "1":

The top floor ("Upper Level (1") arguably houses the most breathtaking galleries in the museum. Countless great works from the impressionist and expressionist movements can be found here.

Highlights include works by impressionists Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, and Caillebotte. Entire galleries are consecrated to Monet and Renoir after 1880.

In the world-famous Gachet collection, groundbreaking works by Van Gogh and Cezanne can be seen. Highlights in sculpture include breathtaking Degas dancers.

The Terrace Level

The "terrace" area is primarily consecrated to 19th century sculpture, with an entire wing reserved for the sublime works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (Read related:  All About the Rodin Museum & Gardens)

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