Musée d’Orsay – The Orsay Museum

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Important info for Musée d’Orsay

Location: Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Opening Hour: 9:30am to 6:00pm from Tuesday to Sunday
Ticket: Euro 16
Best Time to visit: Whole Year
Public Transport:

  1. By bus: you can ride Bus 68 and 69, which passes by the museum
  2. By metro: ride Line 12 and stop at Solferino or Assemblee Nationale. It’s a 2-minute walk from there
  3. By RER (Reseau Express Regionale): take Line C and stop at Musee d’Orsay

The Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay)

Find all you need to know about the best and must-see Orsay museum paintings right in this blog.
If you are fascinated to art and aesthetics, Musee d’Orsay is a Must Visit attraction in Paris for you. It is one of the largest and most famous museums in Paris. Since it’s establishment in this historic city of Paris, Orsay Museum has become the most visited destinations for art lovers around the world.

Converted from former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900, Musee d’Orsay is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River opposite the Tuileries Gardens.

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay

It is very famous and recognized throughout the world as it holds some of the world’s most incredible, must-see works of art. It houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, including masterpieces from Claude Monet, Pissarro, Morisot, Edgar Degas, Gustave Moreau, Edouard Manet, Pissarro and Renoir.

It also houses an outstanding collection of western artistic collection from 1848 to 1914, which are not only limited to painting but also sculpture, photography as well as arts. This includes the works by significant figures in the impressionist movements such as van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Musée d’Orsay

**What is impression painting

If you have no idea what impressionist painting is, here is the brief explanation.

Impressionism was a major movement in painting and music that developed in France during the late 19th century. In Impressionist paintings, painters will usually depict or reflect the nature and mundane goings-on that they see in their real life. It was an attempt to accurately record the visual reality in terms of transient effects of light and colour, and always done in outdoor environment. Impressionist painters are not exact about painting a picture that reflect the realistic life. Rather, they just paint the “impression” of what the object, person, atmosphere, light or landscape that looked like to them. Thus, it is called “Impressionism”. Painters always use dabs or many short brush strokes, applying paint quickly, thickly, to create an idea, or impression of a subject or scenery. Because of these dabs on the painting, you will see a bunch of messy brush strokes or paint blobs if you look close to an impressionist painting. But when you stand further away, you will notice that the impressionist painting has now transform into a more realistic picture.  

Collection in Musee d’ Orsay

Where the collections in Orsay Museum come from?

Most of the collections are from the acquisitions, donations or gifts by others museums in France, such as the Louvre, National Museum of Modern Art, Musée du Luxembourg, Jeu de Paume etc.. This not only consists of the art works of the 19th-century French artists, but also includes those contemporary foreign schools’ paintings that were acquired for Musée du Luxembourg, as well as some artworks that contributed by foreign artists.

What are the collections in Orsay Museum?

There are just too many collections here and it is impossible to admiring them all in just one single day.  In total there are close to 6000 pieces of artworks created by the world best artists here, including Realist, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and some modern artists. Out of these, about 3000 pieces are permanently exhibited here.

The permanent collection consists of paintings, sculptures, medals, decorative art, photographs, graphic arts pastels, and architectural elements. Notable paintings include masterpieces like LondonThe Parliament, and Poppies by Monet, and The Starry Night and Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh etc.. As for sculptures, do not miss to see the stunning The Age of Bronze by Auguste Rodin.

As mentioned above there are 4 main categories of collections housed in Musee d’ Orsay, namely paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photographs as briefly described below.

Notable Collections in Musee d’ Orsay


The painting collections in Musée d’Orsay consists of the largest number of famous paintings in the world by the painters we love: Monet, Pissarro, Morisot, Manet and Renoir. It also has some modern masterpieces such as Ball at the Moulin de la Galette by Auguste Renoir and The Angelus by Jean-François Millet.

Bal du Moulin de la Galette – Pierre-Auguste Renoir


There are about 1200 sculptures collection in the Orsay Museum. Some of the famous one includes The Age of Brass by Auguste Rodin, Ludwig van Beethoven by Antoine Bourdelle and Honoré Daumier famous political statue, the Ratapoil.

Musée d’Orsay


Musée d’ Orsay is the only museum in Paris that has photographs collection on display. Today this museum exhibits many photographs from the golden age of French (1839-1863), which includes 40 prints by Gustave Le Gray, the pioneering French artist, as well as many other photographs contributed by French-American lensman Paul Burty-Haviland. 

Decorative Art

The decorative arts pieces in Orsay museum comprises of many rare artifacts ranging from ceramics, silverware, furniture and glassware that were acquired from other Museum in Paris, namely the Louvre Museum and Musée du Luxembourg. The most famous one being the 1900s Lars Kinsarvik’s Armchair and Émile Gallé’s Mysterious Grapes.

Graphic Art & Pastels

Up to date, there are over 80,000 graphic arts in Musee d’ Orsay. The collections have been steadily enlarged since the inception of the the Musée d’Orsay by the acquisition of masterpieces. The most famous one include the Portrait de Manet by Edgar Degas, the Autoportrait by Gustave Courbet,  Le nœud noir by Georges Seurat as well as The Black Knot by Georges Seurat and The Bouquet of daisies by Jean-Francois Milet.

Top 10 Must See Paintings in Musee d’ Orsay

Musée d’ Orsay has more than 3000 incredible paintings that are worth to appreciate, including paintings by famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin,  Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas and Alfred Sisley etc. It is impossible for a visitor to finish viewing all of them in a few days time. This blog will attempt to list out the Top 10 most famous painting that are widely considered as a “Must-See” which you should not miss on your next visit to Orsay Museum.

Top 10 Must See Paintings in Musee d’ Orsay

1. Bal du Moulin de la Galette – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

2. A Burial at Ornans – Gustave Courbet

3. Self-Portrait(1889) – Vincent van Gogh

4. London, Houses of Parliament – Claude Monet

5. Blue Water Lilies – Claude Monet

6. Le Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe – Edouard Manet

7. Starry Night Over the Rhône – Vincent van Gogh

8. Girls in the Garden – Mary Cassatt 

9. The Ballet Class – Edgar Degas

10. Coquelicots – Claude Monet

Click here to read the detail Top 10 Must-See Orsay Museum Paintings

Starry Night Over the Rhône – Vincent van Gogh

Tips for Visitor

There are few tips that can help you to have a pleasant visit if you are planning to visit the Musee d’Orsay:

  • As most as you can, plan your visit during a low tourist season, such as from October to March.
  • Also, when you are in Paris, plan the right time to visit to avoid crowd. The optimum visit time usually is the morning and late afternoon.
  • As the Orsay Museum has millions of visitors every year, it is always crowded. Therefore buy your tickets online in advance to avoid disappointment or to save time on queuing. 
  • There will be more than one entrances cater for different people, student, group and priority tickets. Make sure to queue up on the right line. Consider to get an express ticket if you can afford to skip the line.
  • For such a large museum (4 storeys), the best option is to engage a guided tour guide. Your visit and appreciation on those world’s most important paintings and fine arts will be most fruitful with an experience tour guide.
  • Do some research about the museum and it’s collection before the visit will greatly help you to decide what is the most important masterpieces that you would want to explore. 
  • Allocated sufficient time for your visit (as the museum is large), at least 3-4 hours.
  • The museum will hold some exhibitions and events daily, so do check this up before visiting.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy a stunning views of the Seine River and the city from the museum’s Summer Terrace.
  • Not to forget to have some insta-photo with the giant clock in the museum.
  • After completing your masterpieces exploration, it is always a good idea to enjoy a coffee or get some fine dining in the café or restaurant inside the museum.
  • Have an enjoyable visiting!

***Check out this premium hotels nearby the Orsay Museum here.

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