The Musee d'Orsay
On the left bank of the grand Seine River in Paris, France stands a majestic museum that used to be a historic railway station between 1898 and 1900. The Musée d’Orsay of Paris is an art museum equally famous for its history and the masterpieces it houses. The museum is home to a collection of mostly French art that dates from 1848 to 1915. Many French impressionists and post-impressionist masters such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, and Van Gogh have permanent residence for their artworks here.
The Musée d’Orsay is smaller than its contemporaries with 20,000 sq. m. of total floor space. However, its four floors boast such an impressive collection that despite of its size, the museum is considered to be one of the best in Paris by locals and tourists alike. The museum served as a railway station in Southern France until 1939, when it could no longer accommodate to the growing industrial demand. It was set to be demolished and turned into a hotel in 1970, but the Minister for Cultural Affairs at the time ruled against this plan. The idea to transform the station into a museum came in 1974, and a contract was awarded to an architect group in 1978 for coming up with the best design for the new museum. In 1981, another architect was hired to plan out the interior of the museum. The Musée d’Orsay officially opened in 1986, with about 2,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, and a variety of other art pieces on display.
Today, the museum displays its permanent collection of masterpieces year-round and also houses special exhibits on occasion. It is also a famous location for various concerts, shows, and lectures. The museum has a bookshop and a gift shop that sells an array of souvenirs and art books. It also has two cafés that offer a delectable selection of light Parisian snacks, pastries, and many more. The restaurant located on the first floor of the museum serves a traditional French menu that constantly changes to accord with the museum’s current exhibits and events. The museum offers audio guides for everyone and is also handicap accessible. Wheelchairs are available from the cloakroom, and there are a number of lifts and access ramps scattered throughout all the floors. All toilets are also appropriately equipped for disabled patrons.
To put things into perspective, a scenic walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Musée d’Orsay can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. That might be the longest way to get there, but there are many other options. If taking public transportation, one can easily take the metro or the RER. Buses and taxis are also readily available to the public. If driving to the museum, there are many options for car parks that are close by. Take into consideration all these options when planning a trip to the museum. Otherwise, walking or bicycling are great ways to sight-see on the way. This area in Paris offers one of the best views of the city along the grand Seine. There are also several attractions that are close enough to be of walking distance from the museum. The famous Avenue des Champs-Élysees, with all its shopping splendor, is just a short walk away. Not far away are other landmarks and scenic attractions such as the Quai des Tuilleries and Place de la Concorde.
The museum is open daily from 9:30am to 6pm except on Mondays, May 1st, and December 25th. It is also open late on Thursday nights until 9:45pm. The last ticket is sold at 5pm on normal days and 9pm on Thursdays. Keep in mind when planning a visit that the museum is typically cleared of visitors by 5:15pm. The best time to visit the Musée d’Orsay is during Paris’ low season from November to March to avoid the seasonal crowd. However, the museum expects a decent amount of visitors all year. It is usually best to come early in the morning before it opens at 9:30 until about noon, when the museum experiences a slight dip in oncoming visitors due to the lunch hour. Thursday evenings are also a great time to visit the museum for a completely different experience and a slightly lesser crowd. Other than that, weekdays are usually less busy than weekends. If trying to avoid wait times, consider showing up as early as 20 to 30 minutes before open time to guarantee faster entry into the museum. Ticket lines alone can go anywhere upwards of 15 minutes depending on the time of day.
To save time, consider buying tickets ahead online, but tickets are also available at the museum for immediate entry or future entry. The full admission price is €12. Discounted rates at €9 are available for visitors between the ages of 18-25 who are not citizens of an EU member state or for everyone from 4:30pm onwards. Free admission is also available under specific circumstances.