Monet's
Detail from Monet's "Poppies" (1873)

Did someone say "Impressionists"? The Orsay Museum houses the world's largest collection of Impressionist art

In 1986, Paris consolidated most of its collections of French art from 1848 to World War I in the most unlikely of spots: a old converted train station.

While the museum does contain earlier, mid-19th century works by the likes of Ingres and Delacroix, without a doubt the Orsay's biggest draw is its massive collection of paintings and sculptures those crowd-pleasing Impressionists.

So many of the works here are so widely reproduced that you might wander through with an eerie feeling of déjà vu.

Orsay highlights

There are Degas' ballet dancers, his l'Absinthe; Monet's women in a poppy field, the Rouen cathedral painted under five different lighting conditions, a giant Blue Waterlillies; Van Gogh's Restaurant de la Siréne, Starry Night, self-portraits, peasants napping against a haystack, and his Bedroom at Arles.

Then there are artistic icons of surpassing fame: Whistler's Mother; Manet's groundbreaking Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (Picnic on the Grass) and Olympia, which together helped throw off the shackles of artistic conservatism, giving Impressionism room to take root.

Add in a generous helping of Cézanne, Gauguin, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissaro, and Seurat, and you could easily spend a full day exploring this museum.

Musée d'Orsay Tips

Planning your time

Budget at least 90 minutes to spend in the Musée d'Orsay—though personally I'd give it about 3 or 4 hours. This is, afetr all, the single greatest collection of Impressionist works in the world.

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Free admission with a sightseeing card

Get into the Musée d'Orsay for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with either the Paris Museum Pass (sights) or the Paris PassParis Pass (sights + transport + attractions).

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Take a tour of the Musée d'Orsay
Take a tour of the Musée dOrsay with our partners at Viator.com or Context Travel: The following city tours offer no visit of the museum itself, but do have a stop at or near it:

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Combination tickets

You can get a "passport" ticket covering admission to both the Musée d'Orsay and the Orangerie for €14 (as opposed to the regular total ticket price of €16.50).

It lasts for four days, but is good for only one admission at each museum.

It does save you a bit of money over seperate admissions, but frankly, the unlimited-entry Paris Sightseeing PassParis Pass or Paris Museum Pass also cover both museums and are better deals overall.

The Orsay is free once a month

Admission to the Musée d'Orsay is free—and the museum is intensely crowded—on the first Sunday of every month.

 

 

 



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Interior of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris
The Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

 

 

Van Gogh's "Bedroom at Arles (1889) in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles (1889), the third and final version of this scene that the artist painted.