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Musee d’Orsay or Louvre – which is a better Museum?


You aren’t alone if you cannot decide whether to buy Musee d’Orsay tickets or Louvre Museum tickets.

Many tourists, especially those on a budget holiday or those with only a few days in Paris, face this dilemma. 

Both Musee d’Orsay and Louvre Museum are equally fantastic and if you are in Paris, missing one for the other isn’t advisable.

The visitor experiences each museum in a completely unique way. 

However, if you don’t have the time, budget, or inclination to visit both art museums, check out our Musee d’Orsay vs. Louvre Museum analysis.

Louvre and Musee d’Orsay

If time and money permits, we suggest you visit both the art galleries.

You can either purchase the self-guided Musee d’Orsay tickets and Louvre Museum tickets individually or opt for a 5-hour long guided tour of both the art museums

If you want to save time and money, you can also opt for one of the two Paris Discount Passes, which include entry to both Louvre and d’Orsay.

Visual Story: 16 must-know tips before visiting Louvre Museum

Visual Story: 14 must-know tips before visiting Musee d’Orsay

Distance between Musee d’Orsay and Louvre

Louvre Museum and Musee d’Orsay are just 950 meters (two-thirds of a mile) apart.

Louvre Museum to Musee d Orsay

After exploring one of the galleries, tourists cross the river Seine on Pont Royal or Pont du Carrousel bridges to get to the other attraction. 

The leisurely walk takes approximately 12 minutes. 

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Musee d’Orsay vs Louvre Museum

Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre Museum are excellent art museums, not just in Paris but globally. 

Sometimes, due to lack of time and inclination, one is forced to compare and choose one of the two.

Though it is impossible to select one out of the two as the best, we can compare the two museums on various parameters.

This article compares the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre Museum on various parameters such as the beauty of the buildings, paintings on display, crowds to expect, masterpieces on display, etc. 

The beauty of the buildings

Musee d’Orsay, Paris
This tourist attraction in Paris is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay railway station. EnricoRubicondo / Shutterstock.com

Louvre Museum is in a 13th century Castle, and Musee d’Orsay is in a converted 19th-century train station.

Even though The Louvre is older than the Musée d’Orsay, the d’Orsay is better for architecture fans.

At d’Orsay art museum, visitors can still see many of the station’s well-preserved original features, like the intricate ironwork ceiling and the ornate station clock.

Winner: Musee d’Orsay

The time it takes to explore

While Louvre has 35,000 artworks and historical objects, Musée d’Orsay has a compact selection of 2,000 paintings and 600 sculptures. 

From a size perspective, the Louvre is almost four times that of Musee d’Orsay. 

Opt for the d’Orsay art museum if you are short on time or prefer not to pack a lot into your morning or evening visit.

Winner: Musée d’Orsay

History on display

Winged Victory of Samothrace in Louvre
Visitors surround the Statue of Winged Victory of Samothrace in Louvre Museum. LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay.com

At the Louvre Museum, visitors can see more than 35,000 artworks and historical objects exhibited in the space of over 652,000 square feet. 

The Sully Wing holds treasures from the pyramids of Egypt and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome. 

And the Richelieu Wing has an impressive collection of Medieval scrolls, tapestries, and more.

If you are into history, The Louvre is better than Musee d’Orsay. 

Musee d’Orsay also has many fascinating paintings and artifacts on display

Winner: Louvre Museum

Crowd expected

Tourists waiting line at Pyramid entrance of Louvre Museum
This is why it is highly recommended to buy your Louvre tickets online, and rush to the ‘Visitors with tickets’ lane near the entrance. Image: Ricksteves.com

If you prefer to enjoy art without being crowded, d’Orsay wins hands down over Louvre. 

Musee d’Orsay attracts less than one-third of the tourists Louvre gets.

While The Louvre receives almost 10 million visitors annually, Musee d’Orsay gets only three million footfalls every year. 

However, if you want to avoid the crowd, you can also visit Louvre Museum at night.

After dark, the Louvre Pyramid gets all lit up, making it even more romantic.

Winner: Musee d’Orsay 

Impressionist paintings on display

Poppy Field by Claude Monet
Poppy Field by Claude Monet.

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.

Winner: Musee d’Orsay

Ultimate Masterpieces

Visitors looking at Mona Lisa at Louvre Museum
Image: Wikimedia

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 Louvre Museum.

However, be ready. These three iconic women – the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, and Mona Lisa – get the most visitors.

At least twenty-five thousand tourists spend more than five minutes in front of Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre daily.

Winner: Louvre Museum

Price of tickets

Both Louvre Museum and Musee d’Orsay have almost similar ticket prices and charge entry tickets only for visitors 18 years and above. 

Musée d’Orsay ticket costs €14 per person while Louvre Museum’s ticket costs €20 per person (including the booking fee).

All kids 17 years and below can enter the art galleries for free. 

Private tours of Louvre and Musee d’Orsay are also priced similarly.

Winner: Tie

Restaurants at the museums

Although the Musée d’Orsay has a cafe and restaurant, the Louvre Museum has more than a dozen dining options.

One of these is the Cafe Richelieu, which serves fine gourmet cuisine just steps from Napoleon’s rooms.

Look no further than Cafe Richelieu at The Louvre if you want a sit-down, leisurely dining experience.

Ultra-chic Coffee Marly serves cafe au lait and some of the most fantastic macarons in Paris.

Winner: Louvre Museum

Visiting with kids

Visiting Louvre Museum with kids

If you are traveling with kids, Louvre and Musee d’Orsay end up being equally good. 

At both the Parisian art galleries, visitors 17 years and younger don’t need to buy tickets. 

Do check out the child-friendly tour of Orsay and the family-friendly tour of The Louvre.

Winner: Tie

Recommended Reading
Facts about Louvre Museum
Facts about Musee d’Orsay

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Louvre or Musee d’Orsay – the winner

If you are short on time, we recommend Musee d’Orsay.

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.

Louvre Museum is the better option if you love history, want to see masterpieces such as Mona Lisa, and want the big picture of the Western art scene.

If you are not short on time, we highly recommend the guided combo tour, which provides access to both the Parisian art Museums.

Still undecided? Read up everything you must know before visiting Louvre Museum or Musee d’Orsay and take a call.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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