Before you head to the museum, it can be a good idea to find out what’s on display and plan out your trip. Thanks to its central location, there are lots of great things to do around the Musée D’Orsay. These include excellent restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Why not make a day of it? Our guide to visiting Musée D’Orsay is here to help you get the most out of your experience.
Getting to the Musée D’Orsay by train
The Musée D’Orsay is situated in the city’s 7th arrondissement, which is very central and close to lots more significant attractions. A stone’s throw from the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe, you should consider spending a few days in this area if it’s your first time in Paris.
The easiest way to get around central Paris is by train. The French capital is served by an excellent public transport network which includes frequent Metro and RER train services. These can have you whipped to another part of the city in minutes. Once you’re in the central arrondissements, however, we recommend walking from A to B. After all, you’re spending time in one of the world’s most beautiful cities!
Which station is closest to the Musée D’Orsay?
The nearest Metro station to the Musée D’Orsay is Solférino, which is on line 12. From there, it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk to the museum. You might also like to get off your service at any other central Paris stop, like Cité, Louvre – Rivoli, or Varenne and enjoy the opportunity to walk a short distance through Paris. This vibrant area boasts plenty of leafy boulevards and avenues that can enhance your Parisian experience. You never know what you might find!
Paris Metros and RER services run very frequently, so no need to plan your journey too much. Simply head to your nearest station or stop and wait a couple of minutes for your train to arrive. Then hop on, zoom to your destination, and enjoy the whole of the city without any hassle.
What to see at the Musée D’Orsay
The Musée D’Orsay boasts national collections from three primary sources: the Louvre for the works of artists born from 1820, the Jeu de Paume museum for Impressionism, and the National Museum of Modern Art.
From painting and sculpture to photography, graphics, and architecture, there’s plenty to see when you visit the Musée D’Orsay. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant works from the collections.
The museum is packed with world-famous and lesser-known paintings, with lots of unmissable works on display throughout the galleries. Here are some you mustn’t miss:
- L'Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet
- Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh
- Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Édouard Manet
- Starry Night Over the Rhône by Vincent Van Gogh
- The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet
- The Ballet Class by Edgar Degas
- Dinner at the Ball by Edgar Degas
- The Card Players by Paul Cézanne
- London, the Parliament by Claude Monet
Discovering Monet at the Musée D’Orsay
The Musée D’Orsay is home to an extensive collection of paintings by famous impressionist Claude Monet. Many people visit the museum with this in mind, since Monet’s style is one of the most recognisable in the world. Think gardens, water lilies, and delicate use of colour. There’s plenty of Monet works to see at the Musée D’Orsay. Here are just a few:
- Les Charbonniers
- London, the Parliament
- Blue The Gare Saint-Lazare
- Rue Montorgueil
- The Rocks of Belle-Ile
- Lunch on the Grass
The Van Gogh collection
As you wander around the Musée D’Orsay, you’ll also run into lots of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. These are always exciting moments since the Dutch painter remains one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art. Here are some of the best-loved Van Gogh pieces at the Musée D’Orsay:
- The Starry Night
- Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles
- Eugène Boch
- Chaumes de Cordeville
Pierre-Auguste Renoir at the Musée D’Orsay
The final artist we’ll focus on is Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Renoir was a leader in the development of the Impressionist style, which is what the Musée D’Orsay is mainly known for. Some works to look out for at the Musée D’Orsay include:
- The Bathers
- The Boy with the Cat
- Bal du Moulin la Galette
- Claude Monet
- Young Girls at the Piano
Thanks to its glass roof, the former-train station that houses the Musée D’Orsay is a perfect place to see sculptures at their best. Light streams in from above, highlighting the many impressive works which are scattered throughout the gallery. Some must-see sculptures at the Musée D’Orsay include:
- Liberty by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi
- La Danse by Jean-Baptiste
- Carpeaux Ugolin by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
- Napoleon I as a Roman Emperor by Antoine-Louis Barye
- Hercules the Archer by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle
- Walking Panther by Ettore Bugatti
There are hundreds of statues and busts at the Musée D’Orsay, so take a stroll around and see what else you can find.
Musée D’Orsay history and facts
The Musée D’Orsay occupies the old Orsay train station on the banks of the Seine, facing Tuileries Garden. From its picturesque spot, the unique building boasts a lot of history in itself. At the same time, the museum collections also provide insight into days gone by.
A museum in a train station
The Orsay train station was built for the 1900 World’s Fair, a more accessible alternative to bring visitors right into the heart of Paris. The architect for the project was Victor Laloux. He included plenty of impressive features like the modern luggage ramps, elevators, and the 400-room Hotel D’Orsay.
Laloux covered the station with white limestone to match the elegant buildings which surround it. The Gare D’Orsay was beautiful and ahead of its time. Sadly, technological advances meant the platforms were too small for the electric trains which were introduced in the following decades. Because of this, the station closed in 1939.
Becoming a museum
A plan to demolish the train station and replace it with a hotel complex was approved in 1970 but soon revoked. Instead, the building was declared a historic monument in 1978. A movement began to reclaim and restore the building.
A competition was held to decide the architect for the Musée D’Orsay. Six teams competed, with ATC Architecture, which included Pierre Colboc, Renaud Bardon and Jean-Paul Philippon, chosen to design the museum.
The Musée D’Orsay architecture
Converting the train station into a museum involved some significant modernisations. Visitors can still see the skeleton of the train station throughout since the design was drawn up to respect the original work of Victor Laloux.
With this in mind, the Musée D’Orsay makes a feature of the building’s vast central hall, which is the main part of the museum today. Daylight is one of the museum’s most prominent features, streaming into the central room from all around. This, supported by well-placed artificial lighting, means visitors can enjoy the very best view of the art on display.
Exhibition spaces, galleries, and facilities are spread over three levels, designed to highlight the 138-metre-long hall.
Restaurants, bars, and shops near the Musée D’Orsay
The Musée D’Orsay sits in the bustling 7th arrondissement, as well as the Eiffel Tower and its sprawling Champs de Mars park. Because of its central location, there’s plenty to do before and after your visit to the museum.
From some of the best restaurants in Paris to fantastic boutique shopping and lots of spots to relax, there’s something for everyone just a stone’s throw from the museum. Let’s take a look at some of the exciting places nearby, so you can make the most of your time in the area.
The best restaurants in the 7th arrondissement
Home of the Musée D’Orsay and the iconic Eiffel Tower, it should come as no surprise that the 7th arrondissement boasts some of the best restaurants in Paris. Here are a few of our favourites.
Enjoy unbeatable Basque cuisine when you visit Chez L’Ami Jean for lunch or dinner in the area. Think homemade bread, fresh ratatouille, tender steaks and sautéed fish. There’s a great wine list to explore too. We recommend Chez L’Ami Jean for dinner, but if you happen upon it during the afternoon, don’t hesitate to head inside for the fixed lunch menu. At a reasonable €32, this might just be the highlight of your day.
This excellent, casual spot is ideal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the 7th arrondissement. The laid-back menu changes seasonally, while some dishes appear for one day only depending on the market. Whatever time you’re visiting the Musée D’Orsay, grab your chance to visit Café Constant for an authentic Parisian refuel.
This seafood-only brasserie boasts a beautiful location on a fountained square, making it a perfect choice for lunch in the area. The bright and airy dining room is a lovely setting for a meal after a stroll around the Musée D’Orsay. Everything is excellent, from traditional dishes to unique combinations you won’t find anywhere else!
This family-run bistro has been going for generations and shows no signs of slowing down. With a handful of main dishes and homemade desserts, this spot is ideal for a meal in the 7th arrondissement.
The café at the Musée D’Orsay
The museum itself is home to an excellent café, so you can enjoy a little refreshment without leaving the old station building. There are lots of things to see at the Musée D’Orsay, so it can be a good idea to grab lunch on-site to save time and make the most of your day. You can always visit a nearby restaurant for dinner after your visit!
The Café Campana was designed by the famous Brazilian Campana brothers. Journey to a dream-like aquatic environment and enjoy dishes from the tempting seasonal menu. The Café at the Musée D’Orsay is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 to 17:00.
Shopping at the Musée D’Orsay
While there are lots of great shops, from independent boutiques to swanky centres in the 7th arrondissement, we recommend exploring the Musée D’Orsay gift shop after a visit. The Musée D’Orsay shop offers an exciting selection of illustrated works, catalogues, books, postcards, stationery, homeware, and much more! Pick up a print of your favourite piece to hang proudly in your home, or treat somebody special to a Musée D’Orsay souvenir. What better way to commemorate your visit to the famous museum than with something beautiful from its shop?
Musée D’Orsay opening times and prices
Ready to plan your trip to the Musée D’Orsay? You’ll need to book a timed entry ticket online before you arrive, which means less time lining up and a more efficient visit to the museum. The Musée D’Orsay is open Tuesday to Sunday from 09:30 to 18:00. If you prefer to visit later in the day, head there on Thursday when the museum stays open until 21:45.
How much does it cost to visit the Musée D’Orsay?
The most recent ticket prices for the Musée D’Orsay are:
Adults accompanying an under 18
Children (under 18)
EU citizens (aged 18-25)
If you’re visiting with kids, great news! Under 18s can visit the museum for free with a maximum of two adults at a reduced rate too.
Whether you spend a day perusing the galleries or an afternoon flying through iconic pieces, we’re sure your visit to the Musée D’Orsay will be an experience you won’t forget.
Taking the train to Paris?
You can easily reach Paris by train from within France, as well as the other European cities thanks to the high-speed rail connections available.
If you're already in France and heading into Paris, TGV trains offer high-speed routes from Avignon to Paris (2h 41m), Bordeaux to Paris (2h 9m), Lyon to Paris (1h 55m), Marseille to Paris (3h 12m), Nice to Paris (5h 44m) and Strasbourg to Paris (2h 23m).
Some of the most popular international train routes include London to Paris (2h 13m), Amsterdam to Paris (3h 12m), Brussels to Paris (1h 22m), Barcelona to Paris (6h 38m), Zurich to Paris (4h 6m), Munich to Paris (6h 37m) and Stuttgart to Paris (4h 13m).