Visit the Musée d’Orsay: tickets, prices, opening hours

Le Musée d'Orsay

Interested in visiting the Musée d’Orsay? Here’s everything you need to know about this unique cultural site.

The Musée d’Orsay is located in the chic 7th arrondissement of Paris, along the left bank of the Seine. It is world-famous for its collection of Impressionist art. It houses diverse forms of artistic expression created by Europe’s greatest masters. 4,000 works displayed over 57,000 m² make it one of the largest museums in the world. Completely renovated in 2011, this major cultural space continues to surprise an ever-growing public.

If you’d like to be one of them, we’ll tell you how to visit the Musée d’Orsay the right way!

History of the Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée d'Orsay

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The current Musée d’Orsay building was erected under Napoleon I in almost 30 years. Originally, the Palais d’Orsay was to house the Conseil d’État and the Cour des Comptes. It fulfilled this task until 1871, when it was set on fire by Paris Commune insurgents. Renovated as a railway station, it housed visitors to the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.

Later, the now-named Gare d’Orsay welcomed trains, but traffic was gradually limited to commuter services. During the Occupation and until 1983, the station became a shipping center, a reception center for prisoners of war, an auction house and then a residence for a theater troupe. In 1977, President Giscard d’Estaing decided to convert the station into a museum. At the time, there was no cultural space in Paris entirely dedicated to national collections.

It wasn’t until 1981 that his successor François Mitterrand brought the idea to life. Three long years of hard work went into transforming this site steeped in history into a museum. Under the aegis of architects Renaud Bardon, Pierre Colboc and Jean-Paul Philippon, the project was finally completed. The Musée d’Orsay’s first painting collections came from the Musée du Luxembourg, founded in 1818 by Louis XVIII. Other collections were later added under the splendid metal structure characteristic of the site.

Finally, in 1986, the Musée d’Orsay opened its doors to the general public. Boasting a collection of world-famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, it attracts 3 million visitors a year. A ticket to the Musée d’Orsay means contemplating the work of the world’s greatest painters. But that’s not all: discover below the treasures that abound in this sublime, oversized gallery.

Permanent exhibitions at the Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée d'Orsay

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A visit to the Musée d’Orsay begins with an enchanting walk through the sculpture aisle under a Belle Époque glass roof. Overlooking the visitor by more than thirty meters, the glass roof provides exceptional luminosity. Classic masterpieces by Rodin, Daumier, Degas, Pradier and Carpeaux stand side by side with François Pompon’s immaculate « White Bear ».

Further on, Bouguereau’s paintings in room 3 captivate visitors. « Dante et Virgile » precedes Jean-François Millet’s « L’Angélus » in room 4, before giving way to Courbet. Yes, Courbet, who caused a scandal with his « Origin of the World » in room 6! Sumptuous creations by Toulouse-Lautrec pose alongside Félix Vallotton and Pierre Bonnard’s « White Cat ». Once you’ve reached Room 14, you’re greeted by Édouard Manet himself. His « Portrait d’Émile Zola » and « Le Fifre » are well worth a visit.

The Impressionist Gallery on the top floor is obviously the highlight of your visit to the Musée d’Orsay. Nine recently restored rooms house the jewels of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. These include « Les Femmes de Tahiti », « La Méridienne », « La Nuit étoilée sur le Rhône » and a superb self-portrait by Van Gogh.

Not far away, post-impressionist creations draw the eye with their flamboyant colors. A farandole of Monet, Cézanne, Pissarro and Renoir parade before your astonished eyes. Most of them are the work of Gustave Caillebotte, a patron of the arts who bequeathed his enormous collection to the French state on his death. The painter Étienne Moreau-Nélaton did the same: it’s to him that we owe the exquisite presence of Manet’s « Déjeuner sur l’herbe ». Last but not least, the museum houses 45,000 photographs, some of which are on permanent display in a dedicated area.

Temporary exhibitions at the Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée d'Orsay

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Another immeasurable cultural asset of the Musée d’Orsay is its capacity to host works on loan or exchange. Various temporary exhibitions are often devoted to a single artist. For example, you can attend the exhibition « Le Spleen de Paris » by Marlène Dumas until January 30, 2022.

The 7th art is also a regular theme at this palace in the 7th arrondissement. The « Enfin le cinéma! » event runs until January 16, 2022, tracing the history of the silver screen. Jean-Philippe Delhomme and Maylis de Kerangal will be unveiling their works until February 13, 2022. Gaudi’s mastery will be presented until July 17, 2022. Last but not least, the great Aristide Maillol will be featured from April 12 to August 21, 2022, in the eagerly-awaited « Quest for Harmony » collection. You can find the full program here.

Musée d’Orsay Auditorium

Le Musée d'Orsay

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To visit the Musée d’Orsay is to wander through a building so large that you could imagine its size in hectares: almost six! In addition to the monumental galleries, an entire space is dedicated to the performing arts. Throughout the year, the Auditorium presents musical and cinematographic events linked to its own artistic content.

Symposia, conferences and shows for young audiences are also organized. To get there, you have to descend to level -2, beneath the museum’s reception area. The structure of this hushed 347-seat auditorium is unique in that it is made entirely of wood. The result: exceptional acoustics enhanced by state-of-the-art equipment. Here, films, shows, operas and plays are treated to a grandiose experience.

Is there a guided tour of the Musée d’Orsay?

Le Musée d'Orsay

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You can visit the Musée d’Orsay on your own thanks to our audioguides. They are available in many languages and cost €5. A « Musée d’Orsay en famille » application for touch-screen tablets also costs €5. This solution is ideal for visiting the Musée d’Orsay at your own pace.

If you’d like to learn more about the works on display, opt for a real guided tour. The guides offer a range of themes, including some for children. Every Sunday, for example, game trails are organized for family visitors. The perfect way to combine fun and learning!

Are combined tours available?

Visiting the Musée d’Orsay is great. But a ticket for the Musée d’Orsay and a second major cultural site is even better! Here’s how to complete your artistic journey in the heart of Paris.

Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre

Musée du Louvre

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If the Musée d’Orsay is one of the most famous in the world, the Louvre is even more so. This combined ticket opens the doors of the famous palace, now home to over 35,000 jewels, early in the morning. Your guide will take you on a chronological tour, starting with works from ancient Greece and ending with the famous Mona Lisa. Art, history and civilization become one. Then enjoy a gourmet lunch before embarking on a guided tour of the Musée d’Orsay.

Musée d’Orsay and Montmartre

Sacré Cœur Montmartre

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After starting the day with a visit to the Musée d’Orsay, you’ll complete it with a tour of the picturesque Montmartre district. Don’t worry, transportation is included! Montmartre is where Impressionist painters used to hang out in the 19th century. For these artists, this northeastern Parisian district was the epicenter of their creativity… sometimes disturbed by wisps of smoke and the fumes of absinthe. From the cobbled streets of the Moulin Rouge to those of the Sacré-Coeur basilica, the stroll is well worth the detour.

Opening hours and prices

Le Musée d'Orsay

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You can visit the Musée D’Orsay every day except Monday. It’s open from 9.30am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday. On Thursdays, the museum closes at 9:45pm.

Full price is €16

(book here)

while the reduced rate is €13. The reduced rate applies to adults accompanying a young person under 18, and to holders of a discount card for large families.

Free admission applies to young people under 18 and to 18-25 year-olds who are nationals of a European Union country. Jobseekers, disabled visitors (and their carers) and Carte Blanche members also benefit.

  • Bonus: on the first Sunday of every month, admission is free for all!

How to get to the Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is located at 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. To get there, take metro line 12 to Solférino station. Alternatively, take RER line C to Musée d’Orsay station. Buses 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 87 and 94 will take you there with ease.

A cab & VTC dock is nearby on the Quai Anatole-France. Do you enjoy driving in Paris? The Carrousel du Louvre and Bac Montalembert parking lots will accommodate your vehicle. Ideal for? Get around by bike or scooter – the area is truly sublime and the dedicated lanes are perfectly safe.

What to do around the Musée d’Orsay

Eugène Delacroix Museum

Musée Eugène Delacroix

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Founded in the late 1920s, the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix is housed in the painter’s last apartment. Here you can admire a fine selection of paintings, drawings, watercolors, pastels, sketches and preparatory studies. Touching handwritten letters and photographs of his illustrious entourage (Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier and George Sand) are also on display.

  • Address: 6 Rue de Furstemberg, 75006 Paris

Rodin Museum

Le Musée Rodin

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The Rodin Museum is just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. Nestled in a splendid 18th-century mansion surrounded by three hectares of gardens, it houses sculptures by the master realist. Bronzes, drawings and various sculptures shed fascinating light on the artist and his vision of Art. A must-see for tourists in the heart of Paris.

  • Address: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier

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The Paris Opera dominates the Place de Paris in the 9th arrondissement. This masterpiece of Baroque neoclassicism impresses with its richly decorated façade, monumental staircases and Italianate lobby. Look up: yes, the ceilings were painted by the great Chagall in 1964. This historic monument, inaugurated in 1875, has played host to Maria Callas and Rudolf Nureyev. Open to visitors during the day, it’s a great place to see lyrical and choreographic performances in the evening.

  • Address: Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris

Where to eat around the Musée d’Orsay?

The Good Excuse

La Bonne Excuse

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Refined cuisine featuring dishes made with fresh, original ingredients combined on a limited menu. The restaurant has a small, pleasant terrace on a quiet street. Don’t look for any excuses not to go and treat yourself after your visit to the Musée d’Orsay…

  • Address: 48 rue de Verneuil, 75007 Paris

The 122

Le 122

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Are you drawn to the galleries of the Musée d’Orsay? You’ll be just as taken by the refined decor, warm atmosphere and quality of the products served at 122. Extra-fresh cod, Chinese cabbage and hazelnut ice cream take their place on a short but well-crafted menu. A reference for those who love good food.

  • Address: 122, Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

La Calèche

Yum, we’re still salivating! A warm welcome, intimate decor and a lovely terrace to enjoy fresh, gourmet dishes. Tasty, homemade and seasonal. Special mention for the extensive wine list and reasonable prices. Our verdict? Book as soon as possible, it’s a must!

  • Address: 8 rue de Lille, 75007 Paris

Where to stay around the Musée d’Orsay?

Le Petit Chomel

Le Petit Chomel

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A small, human-scale hotel in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Here, cozy rooms and suites overlook a lively street filled with boutiques and cafés. Visiting German-Pratins will undoubtedly appreciate the quality of the associated services and the excellent value for money.

Le Pavillon

Le Pavillon

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Welcome to rue Saint-Dominique, a former convent transformed into a first-class hotel. Le Pavillon is just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and the Hôtel des Invalides. It boasts beautiful rooms with exposed stonework and a pretty flower-filled courtyard. Our organic breakfast will keep you going throughout your visit to the Musée d’Orsay!

La Canopée

La Canopée

Photo credit: Booking

A nice little name for a nice little hotel. Ideally located between La Madeleine and Place Saint-Augustin, La Canopée welcomes tourists looking for a little Parisian moment of their own. You’ll appreciate the clean look of the rooms and the quality of the services provided.

FAQ

Le Musée d'Orsay

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How long does a visit to the Musée d’Orsay last?

Allow around 2 hours to visit the Musée d’Orsay, or at least its essential collections. Allow half a day to do it all, it’s very big… and bring a map!

Why book your ticket online?

Depending on the number of visitors, the queue for tickets can be very long. Some temporary exhibitions attract thousands of visitors. If you don’t have a ticket, you’ll have to use entrance A… sometimes for hours on end. With your ticket, however, all you have to do is go to entrance C, present it and then enter. More efficient, don’t you think?

When is the best time to visit the Musée d’Orsay?

We won’t surprise you: to visit the Musée d’Orsay in the best conditions, avoid the monster crowds at weekends or during school vacations. Prefer a weekday visit if possible. In Paris, museums are busier in the morning than in theafternoon… and more popular on rainy days than in fine weather!

How long does it take to visit the Musée d’Orsay?

Your ticket reduces the wait to practically nothing. If you buy it on site, you can expect to wait anywhere from a few dozen minutes to several hours.

Are photos allowed?

Since 2015, the Musée d’Orsay has decided to allow photos. Indeed, after the Minister of Culture posted one of her own snapshots on Instagram, the photo ban was lifted. Flashes, tripods and selfie poles are still strictly forbidden, however! Certain works of art, such as temporary exhibitions, may not be photographed. In such cases, pictograms prohibiting photography will be clearly displayed along the route.

Are there changing rooms at the Musée d’Orsay?

Yes and no. You can’t leave your clothes or umbrella behind, for example. Suitcases, travel bags and backpacks must be left in a dedicated area for the duration of your visit.

Is the Musée d’Orsay accessible to people with reduced mobility?

Yes, completely. Elevators and ramps make it easier for people with reduced mobility to get around. Wheelchairs and folding seats are available for loan in the above-mentioned « changing rooms ».

And there’s more: priority access with no waiting times for PRMs. To take advantage of this, go through the forecourt atentrance C.

Are pets allowed at the Musée d’Orsay?

Dogs, cats and other pets are not very sensitive to art. That’s why the Musée d’Orsay management only allows guide and assistance dogs into the museum.