Rivaling the Louvre as Paris' favorite art museum, the Orsay Museum (Musée d'Orsay) is known for its impressionist, post-impressionist, and art nouveau works from 1848 to 1914. Equally impressive as what’s inside the museum is its exterior: a former Beaux-Arts railway station with an enviable location on the banks of the Seine River. Both architecture and art buffs will want this museum on their Parisian itineraries.
With its position in the 7th arrondissement, just across the river from the Jardin des Tuileries, the Orsay Museum is easy to visit during a day of sightseeing in central Paris. Tickets are available on site, but you can avoid any wait by booking a skip-the-line ticket or a guided museum tour in advance. Or, opt for an enhanced experience that combines an art walking tour with a Orsay Museum skip-the-line ticket.
Once inside, you'll be immersed in the world of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and other masters of the 19th and 20th centuries. Works include Degas' The Ballet Class and Van Gogh's Starry Night. In addition to the paintings, don't miss the museum's large clock, which you can look through for a view of the Right Bank.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Do not bring suitcases, backpacks, or other travel bags; they are not permitted inside and cannot be left in the cloakroom.
- Note that security is sometimes heightened at this popular site. The museum follows security measures per French authorities, and this can lead to delays.
- Wheelchairs and pushchairs can be borrowed from the cloakroom, while large strollers and baby carriers are not allowed.
How to Get There
Paris is best seen on foot, so try to visit the Orsay Museum during a stroll along the Seine. Otherwise, the museum can be reached via public transit from the Rue de Bac, Solférino, or Assemblée Nationale metro stations or the Gare du Musée d'Orsay RER station.
When to Get There
The museum is open from 9:30am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours until 9:45pm on Thursdays. If you have the flexibility to go on Thursday evening, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding crowds. Also keep in mind that Paris is busiest in summer.
Dining at the Orsay Museum
If you get hungry for something light, sandwiches and salads can be purchased at Café de l'ours, but for a more thematic dining experience at the museum, visit one of its two restaurants. At Café Campana, enjoy classic Parisian brasserie fare in a dreamy underwater environment inspired by Emile Gallé, a French artist and influencer of Art Nouveau. Or go upscale at the Restaurant du Musée d'Orsay, where French cuisine related to museum events is served in an elegant, chandelier-lined room with gilded detailing and large windows.