Musee d’Orsay is home to some of the best Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the World.
Famous artists on display at d’Orsay 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. Tour duration
5. Free entry
6. d’ Orsay entrances
7. d’Orsay tickets
8. Guided tours
9. d’Orsay + Louvre
10. FAQs on tickets
11. d’Orsay or Louvre?
12. What to see?
14. Floor Plan
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 hours
Musee d’Orsay, Paris remains closed on Mondays.
On rest of the days, Musee d’Orsay’s opening time is 9.30 am.
The closing time is 6 pm, except on Thursday, when this Paris museum remains 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.
When is Musee d’Orsay closed
Besides all Mondays, Musee d’Orsay is also closed on Labour day (1 May) and Christmas day (25 December).
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.
Important: The cheapest and most popular entry ticket at this attraction is the Musee d’Orsay Dedicated Entrance ticket. To know about the different types of Musee d’Orsay tickets available, click here
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 in Paris.
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 waiting 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. More such Musee d’Orsay facts
From November to March (Paris’ low season) the crowd at Musee d’Orsay comes down drastically.
Insider Tip: When you book Musee d’Orsay tickets in advance, you skip the long lines waiting at the ticketing counter and walk into the Museum right away.
How long does Musee d’Orsay take
Musee d’Orsay in Paris is a good-sized Museum and one day isn’t enough.
If you restrict yourself to the best the Museum offers, you will need at least four hours to go around.
If you go only to the Impressionist wing (the highlight of Musee d’Orsay) in the top floor and skip everything else, you can finish your tour in two hours.
Tip: Art fatigue sets in after about two hours in an art Museum. If you plan on exploring the Musee d’Orsay for more than two hours, we recommend a short stop at one of the restaurants.
Musee d’Orsay free entrance
The d’Orsay Museum is free to explore for everyone on the first Sunday of every month.
Since it is a highly rated attraction, it gets really crowded on free days, so we don’t recommend it.
It is also free for all visitors under 18 years of age, on all days.
Tourists aged 18 to 25 years, who are citizens or long-term residents of an EU member state also get into Musee d’Orsay Paris for free.
In both the cases, you need to show a valid ID card at the entrance.
Disabled visitors with one carer, and unemployed visitors also get free admission.
Free entry with Paris Museum Pass
Paris Museum Pass is a discount card very popular with Museum lovers visiting Paris.
You pay once for the Museum Pass and access 60 different Parisian Museums for free, including Musee d’Orsay, The Louvre, Center Pompidou etc.
Since all Museums in Paris are free for children under 18 and European citizens under 26, you only need to buy this Museum Pass for those that don’t qualify for 100% discount. > Find Out More
Musee d’Orsay entrances
Musee d’ Orsay in Paris has four different entrances.
Two of these entrances are on the Seine river side, while two are on the side of Rue de Lille (the main road).
It is crucial to know which Musee d’ Orsay entry gate you must enter through because if you stand in the wrong queue, you will end up wasting your time.
Entrance A (Seine river side)
Individual visitors who haven’t yet bought the tickets must use this entrance.
There are ticketing counters along the way, for the visitors to buy their tickets.
Entrance B (Seine river side)
Adults visiting in large groups must use this entrance.
If you book a group tour, this is the entrance you will end up using.
Entrance C (Rue de Lille side)
At this entrance, the queue moves the fastest because it is primarily for visitors who have already bought their tickets online. Buy your tickets now!
Musee d’Orsay members and Paris Museum Pass holders also use this entrance.
Entrance D (Rue de Lille side)
Visiting school groups use this entrance.
Musee d’Orsay tickets
There are two types of Musee d’Orsay tickets you can choose from.
The first ticket allows you skip the line 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 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.
With this ticket you can access all 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. 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) from each other.
You can visit them on the same day or on different days within 6 months of the purchase of the ticket.
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 tour
When it comes to art, it is always better to be guided by someone who understands it better than you.
This is a Musee d’Orsay highlights tour, where the guide takes you on a 2-hour visual treat of the best in the Museum.
Headsets (which are included with the ticket) help you hear the 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
Tip: If money is not an issue and your would want the guide for yourself check out this private tour of Musee d’Orsay
Musee d’Orsay + Louvre Museum
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
FAQs on Musee d’Orsay tickets
Visitors to Musee d’Orsay have a lot of doubts about the entry tickets.
We try to answer a few of these questions –
The pricing of Musee d’ Orsay tickets is simple – all visitors 18 years and above need to pay the entry fee of 14 Euros to get in.
Kids 17 years and below and European Union citizens aged 18 to 25 enter the Museum for free.
You can buy Musee d’ Orsay tickets at the venue (on the day of your visit), or you can buy it online.
We recommend you buy d’Orsay Museum tickets online, in advance because it helps you skip the long lines at the ticketing counter.
On the first Sunday of every month, you can get free Musee d’Orsay tickets from the ticketing counter at the Museum.
You must be at the tourist attraction as soon as it opens because free days can get crowded.
If you want self-guided Musee d’Orsay tickets, you can buy them online – language doesn’t matter.
However, if you want to book a guided tour of Musee d’Orsay language is essential – to book a guided tour in English, click here.
If you are an EU citizen, and under 26 years of age you can enter Musee d’ Orsay for free.
All Non-European Citizens older than 18 years need to pay an admission fee of 14 Euros per head.
If you have bought your Musee d’ Orsay tickets online, check your inbox for you would have received an email.
On the day of your visit, show the email at Museum Entrance’ C (also called Entrée Réservée) and walk in.
If you have bought Musee d Orsay tickets from a travel agent, you may want to call and check with them.
No, Musee d’ Orsay tickets don’t have a time on them.
If you have a ticket to this Parisian Museum, you can use it any time during the day to enter.
The last admission is at 5 pm except on Thursdays when visitors are allowed till 9 pm.
Yes, tickets to Musee d’ Orsay are Skip the Line because they allow you to bypass the long queues at the ticketing counter.
However, depending on the time and day of your visit, you may have to stand in a queue for the security check at the entrance.
Yes, you can.
Diehard art fans usually book the 6-hour long Musee d’ Orsay and Louvre guided tour.
If you want something cheaper, you can book ‘Skip The Line’ for both the Museums individually using the links here – Louvre tickets | d’Orsay tickets
On the day of your visit, after exploring one Museum, use the directions here to go to the next Museum.
The two Museums are only 1 Km (0.62 Miles) apart, and its a scenic walk over the river Seine.
Yes, if you buy your Musee d’Orsay tickets online, they get delivered to your email inbox, which you can access from your phone.
That’s why these tickets are also known as smartphone tickets.
Musee d’Orsay or Louvre Museum
If you have the time and budget isn’t a constraint, you must buy Orsay + Louvre combo ticket and explore both the art Museums.
If for some reason you have to pick between either Musee d’Orsay or Louvre Museum, our heart goes out for you.
Having said that, here is how Musee d’Orsay and The Louvre matchup –
1. Louvre is almost four times that of Musee d’Orsay. So if you are short on time, go for Musee 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. Some of the highlights include Manet’s Olympia, Degas’s The Ballet Class, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, Monet’s Poppies etc.
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. Even though Louvre is set in a 13th century Castle, and Musee d’Orsay is housed in a converted 19th-century train station, when it comes to architecture d’Orsay is much better. If you are an architecture buff, opt for the latter.
5. If you want to see the ultimate masterpieces such as Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, Napolean’s rooms etc. book your tickets for The Louvre.
6. If you are into history, The Louvre is better than Musee d’Orsay. At The Louvre besides the paintings you get to see priceless artefacts from Egypt, Ancient Greece, Rome etc.
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.
Must see at Musee d’ Orsay
It isn’t easy, and it definitely isn’t fair to pick the must-see highlights of Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
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.
One can divide the exhibits at Musee ‘d Orsay Museum into paintings and other artefacts.
Musee d’ Orsay paintings
When it comes to the best paintings at Musee d’Orsay, we recommend the below given seven masterpieces.
1. 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: 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.’
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
Other masterpieces at Musee d’Orsay
Three other highlights of Musee d’Orsay are –
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. 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.
3. Banquette de Fumoir by Hector Guimard
Guimard spent a lot of time on architecture and furniture.
Banquette de Fumoir is an asymmetrical yet pretty smoker’s bench, designed using plant forms.
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!
Musee d’ Orsay map
At Musée d’Orsay the artifacts and paintings are spread over four primary levels and a terrace exhibition space.
With so much to see across so many floors and halls, visitors can get overwhelmed.
That’s why it is better to understand Musee d’ Orsay’s layout to make the most of your visit.
The Ground Floor showcases artwork produced from 1848 to the early 1870s.
Artists highlighted in this section include Delacroix, Moreau, Courbet, Corot, Millet, Manet, and Ingres.
Early paintings of Edgar Degas, which fall within the mentioned period are also displayed on this floor.
Besides Academic and pre-symbolist schools of paintings, you will also find a lot of Naturalism, Realism, and Pre-Impressionism on this floor.
The Middle Level
This floor showcases paintings and decorative items from the second half of the 19th century.
Artists highlighted here include Klimt, Munch, Roussel, Maurice Denis, and Bonnard.
Six rooms on this floor are full of Art Nouveau decorative arts.
Naturalist and Symbolist painting dominate this Musee d’Orsay floor.
The Upper Level ‘2’
Artists showcased here include Gaugin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, Signac, etc.
Paintings by Neoimpressionists, Nabists, and the Pont-Aven painters who used innovative and unconventional techniques are on display here.
If you are interested in small format painting (with a maximum size of 35.5 cm/14 inches), do check out the gallery dedicated to it.
The Upper Level ‘1’
Topmost floor, dominated by impressionist and expressionist movements, houses some of the best galleries of Musee d’Orsay.
Artists on display here include Degas, Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir, Caillebotte, Van Gogh, Cezanne, etc.
Don’t miss out on the dedicated galleries to Monet and Renoir.
Tip: On this floor, you can also see a giant clock facing outwards. This building was a Railway Station before it became a Museum, and the clock helped passengers be on time.
The Terrace Level
19th-century sculptures dominate the terrace of Musee d’Orsay.
Don’t miss out on French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s masterpieces spread over an entire wing.
The terrace also offers stunning views of the Seine and Sacre Coeur.
Restaurants at 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.