Musee d’Orsay is home to some of the best Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the World.
The famous artists on display at Musee Museum in Paris include Renoir, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin etc.
More than 3 million tourists visit Musee d’Orsay annually.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before you visit Musee d’Orsay.
1. How to reach
2. Opening hours
3. Best time to visit
4. Free entry
5. d’Orsay tickets
6. Guided tours
7. d’Orsay and Louvre combo
8. d’Orsay or Louvre?
9. d’Orsay for free
10. What to see?
Musee d’Orsay location
This grand Paris museum is located in an ancient railway station in Paris.
What is today the Orsay Museum was once Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.
Gare d’Orsay station was closed down after World War II.
Despite plans to tear down the station, due to public pressure, it was converted into a museum and re-opened in 1986.
Set in Rue de Lille, 62, this impressive establishment is surrounded by other tourist attractions such as the Louvre Museum, Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Musée de I’Orangerie, Musée des Arts Décoratifs etc.
How to reach Musee d’Orsay
The best way to get to Musee d’Orsay is by public transport.
If Metro is your favoured mode of transport, take Line 12 to Solférino station.
RER’s Line C can also help you reach Musée d’Orsay.
If you desire a slower but a more scenic route, you must take a bus.
Bus Numbers 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, and 94 can help you reach d’Orsay.
Even though parking spots are available around this Paris attraction, we don’t suggest you drive to Musée d’Orsay.
Instead of a private car, it is better to take a taxi.
Musee d’Orsay opening hours
The Musee d’Orsay is open from 9.30 am to 6 pm daily except on Mondays.
On Thursday, this Paris museum is open till 9:45 pm.
The last tickets are sold at 5 pm (9 pm on Thursdays), so please plan ahead.
The museum is cleared at 5.15 pm on all days.
Except on Thursdays, when the clearing starts at 9.15 pm.
Pre-booked group visits only happen from Tuesday to Saturday between 9.30 am to 4 pm, and till 8 pm on Thursdays.
Jump to the tickets section
Bookshop and Museum store timings
They are open daily (except Monday) between 9.30 am to 6.30 pm.
On Thursdays, they are open till 9.30 pm.
When is Musee d’Orsay closed?
Musee d’Orsay is closed on all Mondays.
It is also closed on Labour day (1 May) and Christmas day (25 December).
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Best time to visit Musée d’Orsay
Since Musee d’Orsay is closed on Mondays, visitors land up in droves on Tuesdays.
That’s why the Museum is crowded all through the day on Tuesdays.
On Wednesday, the traffic is average all through the day.
On Thursdays, Orsay Museum is open till 9.45 which distributes the crowd even further and hence, there is not much queueing. Book your tickets for a Thursday
If you want to avoid waiting, Friday is yet again a good day to visit Musee d’Orsay.
However, Saturday mornings (9.30 am to 1 pm) see maximum queueing.
During this period the waiting time can even go up to 90 minutes. In the second half of the day, the long lines shorten a bit.
All through Sunday, Musee d’Orsay is inundated with tourists and 60-90 minute long waiting times are normal.
A good part of the weekend crowd is the Parisians themselves, who love visiting the Museums regularly. Read more such Musee d’Orsay facts
From November to March (Paris’ low season) the crowd at Musee d’Orsay comes down drastically.
Expert art guides help you gain better insight into the artwork on display and also help you save time by steering you away from the crowd.
If it is your first time, for the best experience, we suggest you book a guided tour of Orsay Museum.
Musee d’Orsay free entrance
The d’Orsay Museum is free to explore for everyone on the first Sunday of every month.
It is also free for all visitors under 18 years of age.
Tourists aged 18 to 25 years, who are citizens or long-term residents of an EU member state also get into Musee d’Orsay for free.
In both the cases, you need to show a valid ID card at the entrance.
Disabled visitors with one carer, unemployed visitors or holders of a Paris Museum Pass also get free admission.
Having said that, we feel Musee d’Orsay is well worth the ticket cost. Don’t believe us? Check out its high ratings on Tripadvisor.
Musee d’Orsay tickets
There are two types of Musee d’Orsay tickets you can choose from.
The first ticket allows you dedicated access to Musee d’Orsay.
For just 4 Euros more, the second ticket provides you access to both Musee d’Orsay and Musée de I’Orangerie.
Both these online Musee d’Orsay tickets get delivered to your inbox immediately after purchase.
You don’t need to take any printouts.
On the day of your visit, you can show the ticket in your email, on your smartphone and walk in.
1. Musée d’Orsay dedicated entrance ticket
These are the most popular Musee d’Orsay tickets.
This Musée d’Orsay ticket helps you skip the line and gain direct entry to Musee d’Orsay.
You also gain access to ongoing permanent and temporary exhibitions.
On the day of your visit, walk up to the dedicated entrance ‘C’, show your ticket and step in.
Adult ticket (18+ years): 14 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 17 years): Free entry
EU Citizen ticket (18 to 25 years): Free entry
2. Ticket for Musee d’Orsay and Musee de I’Orangerie
This one ticket helps you gain access to two of Paris’ finest museums – Musée d’Orsay and Musée de I’Orangerie.
They are located 650 meters (0.4 Miles) away from each other.
You can visit them on the same day or on different days within 6 months of the purchase of the ticket.
Do note that Musée d’Orsay is closed on Mondays and Musée de l’Orangerie is closed on Tuesdays.
Adult ticket (18+ years): 18 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 17 years): Free entry
EU Citizen ticket (18 to 25 years): Free entry
Musee d’Orsay guided tours
When it comes to art, it is always better to be guided by someone who understands it better than you.
This is why Musee d’Orsay guided tours are quite popular.
We present two of our favourites –
1. Musee d’Orsay small-group tour ticket
This Orsay Museum ticket is for a 2-hour guided tour for 7 people or less.
If you are a small family or a bunch of friends who believe that a Museum is best explored with an expert tagging along, this is the perfect ticket for you.
A fully-accredited English speaking art expert will accompany you all along, narrating stories and anecdotes about the various artworks.
After the guided tour by the expert guide is over, you can stay as long as you like amongst the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Adult ticket (18+ years): 74.90 Euros
Youth ticket (11 to 17 years): 64.90 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 10 years): 39.90 Euros
2. Musee d’Orsay guided highlights tour
If you prefer a guided tour of d’Orsay but would like to pay less for your tickets, we recommend this intimate tour of no more than 20 people or less.
With this guided tour ticket you get headsets so that you can hear the live guide, amongst the crowd.
Adult ticket (15+ years): 54 Euros
Youth ticket (4 to 14 years): 49 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum combo ticket
This private tour enables you to skip the line and enjoy 4 hours of guided exploration of two of the finest Museums in Paris.
You discover 3000 years of history just by crossing the bridge between Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre museum.
We recommend comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking.
You qualify for a full refund if the cancellation is made 24 hours before the visit.
Adult ticket (18+ years): 174 Euros
Youth ticket (7 to 17 years): 130 Euros
Infant ticket (1 to 6 years): Free entry
Musee d’Orsay or Louvre Museum
If you are holidaying in Paris and are being forced to pick between either Musee d’Orsay or Louvre Museum, our heart goes out for you.
If you have the time and budget isn’t a constraint, we recommend you explore both the art Museums.
As for the Musee d’Orsay vs Louvre matchup, here are our thoughts –
1. Louvre is almost four times that of Musee d’Orsay. So if you are short on time, go for the d’Orsay Museum.
2. If you prefer impressionist paintings, give preference to Musee d’Orsay for it has the world’s most extensive collection of impressionist paintings.
3. If you prefer to enjoy art without being crowded, d’Orsay wins hands down over Louvre. Musee d’Orsay only attracts one-third of the tourists Louvre gets.
4. The Louvre Museum is beautiful from outside, but the d’Orsay Museum is beautiful from inside as well.
5. If you want to see the ultimate masterpieces such as Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, Napolean’s rooms etc. Louvre wins over Musee d’Orsay.
Louvre vs Musee d’Orsay – the winner
If you are short on time, we recommend you opt for the d’Orsay Museum.
D’Orsay gives you a general idea of art, is small thus more manageable, is less crowded and the Museum itself is very beautiful from inside.
If you are not short on time, we highly recommend the combo tour which provides you access to both the Museums.
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Musee d’Orsay with Paris Museum Pass
Did you know that you don’t need to buy Musee d’Orsay’s tickets if you already have the Paris Museum Pass?
Paris Museum Pass allows you free access to 60 different Museums in and outside of Paris.
Yes, you can buy this one Pass and walk into any Museum – through the Skip the Line entrance.
While purchasing you must choose a Paris Museum pass that is valid for 2, 4 or 6 days, according to your preference.
The Pass can be used on consecutive days only. For example, if you start using the pass at 2 pm, it will be considered as day 1.
All the Museums in Paris are free for children under 18 and European citizens under 26.
You must buy the Paris Museum Pass only for tourists who don’t qualify for free entry.
The 2 day Paris Museum Pass costs Euros 53 per person. The 4-day and 6-day Paris Museum Pass costs Euros 67 and Euros 79 respectively.
This amazing discount Pass can be canceled 24 hours before the start date, for a full refund.
What to see at Orsay Museum
It isn’t easy, and it definitely isn’t fair to pick the must-see highlights of Musee d’Orsay.
If you opt for a guided tour, your expert guide will have their preference and take you around accordingly.
However, if you opt for a self-guided tour of Orsay Museum our list of the Museum’s highlights will come in handy.
1. Small Dancer Aged 14 by Edgar Degas
This is a bronze statue of Marie, a ballet student at Paris’s Opera.
The original, which was made of skin coloured wax and dressed in real fabrics, was exhibited at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1881.
In every must-see list of Musee d’Orsay, this Edgar masterpiece is a top-three item.
Tip: Also check out Edgar’s ‘Dinner at the Ball’, which he painted in 1879.
2. Starry Night by Van Gogh
Van Gogh was known for painting the same scene again and again.
When he was recuperating in an asylum, he painted 21 times what he saw from his east-facing window. A few of these paintings were ‘Starry Nights’.
The most famous Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ painting hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. But this is no less.
Tip: At the same Museum, don’t miss out on Van Gogh’s stunning self-portrait where he painted himself dressed in a suit against a swirling backdrop. Experts believe he was trying to communicate his internal turmoil.
3. Polar Bear by Francois Pompon
Francois Pompon spent a lot of time working with master sculptors such as Auguste Rodin and his lover Camille Claudel.
In the latter part of his life he got recognised for his work, the ‘Polar Bear’.
When you are watching it, it will seem as if the marble sculpture is about to spring to life.
4. Olympia by Edouard Manet
Till Manet painted ‘Olympia,’ women in art were always shy, smiling or blushing.
The painting ‘Olympia’ depicts a nude prostitute, staring back at the viewer and not trying to hide her nakedness.
This was a controversial painting for its time, and initiated conversation about the way women were depicted in art.
5. Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Auguste Renoir
This painting depicts a regular Sunday afternoon of the Parisians meeting to eat, drink and make merry.
It is one of Impressionism’s most celebrated masterpieces.
6. Poppy Field by Claude Monet
This dreamy painting is Monet’s most famous works.
Using multiple colours, he depicts a beautiful sunny day.
The red poppies, the blue skies, the humans in black and blue make it a great painting to stare at.
Tip: It is next to impossible to limit Monet’s paintings. That’s why we also recommend two more from Musee d’Orsay’s collection ‘Blue Water Lilies’ and ‘La rue Montorgueil.’
7. Luncheon on the Grass by Edouard Manet
The painting is significant because in 1863 it was rejected by the French Academy.
Hence, Manet had to get it displayed at Salon des Refusés, a refuge for artists whose works were refused.
Interestingly his painting wasn’t rejected because it had nudes, but because the women were in a modern setting suggesting that they weren’t Goddesses but possibly prostitutes.
8. Origins of the World by Gustave Courbet
This painting borders on pornography, but Musée d’Orsay staff maintain that it doesn’t.
This painting was commissioned by Turkish-Egyptian diplomat Khalil-Bey, a colourful individual who had a dazzling art collection celebrating the female body.
9. The Circus by Georges Seurat
This painting is part of many Art History 101 class. And not without reason.
It juxtaposes two worlds in one painting – that of an ongoing circus act which is in motion, and that of the audience, which is still.
10. Banquette de Fumoir by Hector Guimard
Guimard spent a lot of time on architecture and furniture.
Banquette de Fumoir is a pretty smoker’s bench, designed using plant forms.
This asymmetrical bench was designed to be placed in the corner of a room.
Musee d’Orsay reviews
Musee d’Orsay is a highly rated tourist attraction. On TripAdvisor, it is rated as high as 4.5 out of 5.
In fact, Tripadvisor reviews rate it as the No. 1 tourist attraction to see in Paris.
Here are two randomly selected Tripadvisor reviews about this Parisian art Museum.
Best Art Museum in Paris
This museum is a delight, and my favourite art gallery I have visited in Europe. There aren’t as many tourists flooding through the building as the Louvre. The art is spectacular, and the building is more spacious and endearing than that of The Louvre. I would say this is a MUST visit if you are going to Paris. – Written by NJoi-1
Impression and post impression well displayed. The museum is well organised with a good audio guide. Picasso’s exhibit is outstanding, but so are the regular collections of Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, Sisley etc. This Museum is not to be missed. – Written by Mike W
Loved the reviews? Book your tickets, now!
Restaurant and Cafes in Musee d’Orsay
Musee d’Orsay has a restaurant and a few cafes where you can stop for a bite (or a drink).
Both individuals and groups need to have their museum ticket with them to enter.
Restaurant: From Tuesday to Sunday it opens at 9.30 am and closes at 5.45 pm. On Thursdays, the restaurant is open longer – till 9:30 pm.
Tea room: 2.45 pm to 5.45 pm on all days.
Café Campana: Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am to 5 pm. On Thursdays till 9 pm.
Café de l’Ours: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays it opens at 9.30 am to closes at 4.45 pm. On Thursdays, this café stretches till 8 pm.