If you only have time to visit one museum whilst you are in Paris, I would recommend considering the Musée d’Orsay. Set in a beautiful Beaux-Arts former railway station, the Musée d’Orsay houses the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world, and is also home to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces.
Built for the World Expo of 1900, the Parisians wanted a magnificent station to welcome visitors to their city, and they certainly got one. It was not used for very long though, as the new mainline electric trains proved too long for the short platforms. One of the last trains to arrive carried returning French prisoners of war. It fell into disrepair, and was even earmarked for demolition. Saved in the 1980’s and beautifully converted into a museum, you can still get a wonderful impression of how it must have looked when it was full of steam trains.
It’s less crowded the Louvre, the museum is filled with colour and light. Here you’ll find Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Gaugin, Cézanne, Rodin, Toulouse Lautrec, to name but a very few. These artists changed the face of art forever, and their lives in the rapidly changing city of Paris are as fascinating as their works and the artistic techniques they developed (hop up to Montmartre afterwards to learn more about their lives). The artworks are rotated regularly so the paintings often change, which I really like as it means you can keep going back, which I do. There are 2 cafés and a restaurant. I could happily spend a whole day here. Even if you only have a couple of hours, it’s really worth a visit.
Open Tuesday – Thursday 9.30 – 6.00. Late opening Thursday until 9.15pm
Buy your ticket online in advance to avoid wairing in the often long lines! Or better still, book a guided tour and have the artworks, artists and the fascinating period they lived and workd in brought to life by a passionate expert guide. It makes all the difference.
- Musée d’Orsay. 1 rue de la Legion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris métro: Solferino or RER Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay website