The Musée d'Orsay is famous for its large collection of Impressionist art. From paintings and photographs to sculptures and decorative arts, this museum encompasses some of the most important works belonging to the period from 1848 to 1914.
If you're undecided on what to see and do in Paris and you're an art lover, be sure to visit this museum and delve into the world of impressionism. In this article I'll tell you everything you need to know to organise your itinerary: how and where to buy your tickets, prices, how to get there and all the details so you can enjoy the best works of impressionism in Paris.
Special skip-the-line entrance to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Enjoy one of the finest collections of Impressionist art with your visit to the Musée d'Orsay. Enter the museum through the reserved entrance and enjoy the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions with your ticket.
With this option you can skip the queues and enter the museum directly through entrance C. You'll be free to explore the museum and see not only the permanent collections but also all the temporary exhibitions that are available during your visit.
Enjoy all the art of great artists such as Degas, Cézanne and many more. Remember that you always have the option of renting an audio guide if you want a little extra information.
Recommended if... you don't need a private guide to explain the different works and you prefer to go on your own with more freedom.
How much do tickets to the Musée d'Orsay cost?
You can buy a ticket to the museum from 16€ but here are all the options available to benefit from discounts or even free admission.
Discounts and offers
- Admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month. No prior reservation is necessary.
- The museum offers free admission for visitors who fit into one of the following profiles (proof of age is required): children under 18 years of age, citizens of European Union countries between 18 and 25 years of age, people with disabilities and their companion, and visitors with an ICOM card.
- The museum offers a reduced price from €12 instead of €16 every Thursday for tickets from 6pm onwards.
- If you are the companion of a child under 18 years old, your ticket will have a reduced price and you will be able to buy your ticket from €13.
Useful information about tickets
In addition to the permanent collections, you can enjoy temporary exhibitions (see the museum's official website for more information about temporary exhibitions on the dates of your visit)
With your tickets you will have priority access to the museum within 30 minutes of your booked time slot.
If you wish to visit the Rodin Museum before or after your visit to the Musée d'Orsay, you can buy your combined tickets from €14.
You can also buy combined tickets with the Louvre Museum from €33. For more information on other museums in Paris, here is a guide to the 17 best museums in the city.
How to get tickets for the museum
You can buy your tickets to the museum at the ticket office, on the official website or with your Paris Pass:
- If you decide to buy your tickets at the ticket office I recommend that you go in advance, as access is linked to a specific time slot, so if you go in the middle of the day you may have to wait. The prices are the same as on the website, as are the conditions for discounts.
- You can also buy your tickets online by searching for the option that best suits you: normal ticket, companion ticket, afternoon ticket for Thursdays, etc. and choose the day and time slot when you want to visit the museum. You can also add the audio guide service and the special audio guide for children (see below for details).
- If you have the Paris Pass you can enter for free without prior reservation and without having to comply with any time slot.
Are tickets to the Musée d'Orsay included in any of the city's tourist passes?
If you have bought the Paris Museums Pass (see how the Paris Pass, which includes the Paris Pass, works here) you can benefit from free entry and you won't have to wait for a time slot - you can enter the museum whenever you choose.
Are there special tickets for children?
Not only will the little ones enjoy free admission (up to 18 years old) but they can also use the audio guide service (from 3.50€) which will explain the works of art in the museum with easy and entertaining commentary to help them learn about the artistic history of France.
In addition, the museum offers different workshops to stimulate the curiosity and imagination of the little ones. These must take place after the visit so that they can comment on and carry out artistic practices after their visit. Prices for these workshops start at €7.
Twice a year (check dates on the museum's official website), dance, music and theatre performances are organised with different artists to provide a unique experience in the museum for the whole family.
Check out this guide if you are visiting Paris with children and need options on what to see and do in the city.
Are there guided tours - are they worth it?
The Musée d'Orsay not only offers guided tours or group tickets, but if you prefer to go on your own, you can also ask for audio guides for adults or for children.
Guided tour in English:
The museum offers guided tours lasting approximately 90 minutes. The guide will accompany you on this tour through the world of Impressionism, showing you the best pieces and explaining the works so that you can delve into the artistic history of Paris.
Children under the age of 13 are not allowed on the tour and the tour will be in English. The price of the tour starts from €6 and if you buy it with your ticket it will start from €22.
Once you have purchased your tickets, you can request (from £6) an audio tour which includes commentary and specialist information on over 300 works from the museum's permanent collections.
The audio guide is available in many languages, including Spanish. For temporary exhibitions, the audio tour is only available in English and French.
If you are travelling as a family and one of the members of your party is between 6 and 12 years old, you can ask the museum (from 3.50€) for an audio tour explaining the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions with commentary adapted for the little ones, so they can learn about the art of Impressionism in a fun and entertaining way.
How to get to the Musée d'Orsay
The museum is located at 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, on the left bank of the River Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens. You can reach the museum on foot, by bus, metro, train, taxi or car. Read this guide for more information on how to get around Paris.
- Getting to the museum by metro: This can be one of the most economical ways to get to the museum next to the bus. The closest metro stations are Solférino (6 minutes walk) or Tuileries (9 minutes walk). Line 12 is one of the closest. Here is a link in case you have any doubts about how to use the Paris metro.
- Use the bus to get to the museum: Next to the metro, the bus is a very economical option in Paris. The closest stops are Musée d'Orsay and Pont Royal-Quai Voltaire, a 4-minute walk away, or Solferino-Bellechasse and Pont de Solferino-Quai Des Tuileries, a 6-minute walk away. Bus lines passing through this area are 68, 69, 72, 73 and 85.
- Go by train for speed: train lines H, L and N pass close to the museum and can be a quick and convenient option.
- Walk and enjoy Paris: The museum is close to other tourist activities in the city. The Louvre Museum is only a 12-minute walk away, the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Tuileries Gardens are within walking distance, so depending on your itinerary, walking to the Musée d'Orsay may be your best option. Plus, strolling along the Seine River is a lovely experience to top off your day with a visit to the museum. Check out this post for the best Seine river cruises.
- Parking near the museum: If you've decided to drive to the museum, you can find two car parks close by: at the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre, located on Avenue 1 du General Lemonnier, and the Bac Montalembert car park, at number 9 Montalembert Street.
Access to the museum
Once you arrive at the museum you will find different gates depending on the type of ticket or pass you have:
- Gate A: If you have not bought your tickets in advance, you want to buy them at the ticket office or you fall into the profiles that can benefit from a free entrance to the museum, go to Gate A. This entrance is also for those with museum passes.
- Gate B: This gate is for pre-booked groups of adults only.
- Gate C: Go to this entrance if you are an AFMO member, if you have purchased your tickets in advance, if you are a pass holder, or for people with special needs or disabilities.
- Gate D: This entrance is exclusively for pre-booked school groups.
Main works not to be missed at the Museum
The museum contains more than 6000 works of art, among which you can find paintings, medals, photographs, decorative art, etc.
On the upper level you will find major masterpieces such as Monet's London, Parliament and Poppies, Van Gogh's Starry Night and Self-Portrait, sculptures such as Rodin's The Age of Bronze or Antoine Bourdelle's Bust of Ludwig Van Beethoven.
You can also enjoy important paintings such as Renoir's Dance at the Moulin de la Galette or Manet's Olympia.
How much time you need to visit the museum
The recommended visiting time for the museum (permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions) is between 2 and 4 hours. It all depends on the time you want to devote to each work.
For example, the guided tours offered by the museum last about 90 minutes and some guided tours last up to 2 hours. If you also want to hire a self-guide or go over your favourite works, your visit will last approximately 4 hours.
Museum opening hours
The Musée d'Orsay is open from 9.30am until 6pm, except for Thursdays, when it closes at 9.45pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and on the public holidays of 1 May and 25 December.
If you have left your visit to the museum for the last hours of the day, be careful, as the last access time for the permanent collections is 5pm (9pm on Thursdays).
Tips and information of interest
- Don't worry about carrying your coat, bags etc. The museum has lockers where you can store your suitcases and backpacks and cloakrooms for your coats. In addition, you can borrow a baby pram as bulky prams or baby carriers are not allowed inside the museum, or if you need one you can request a wheelchair or folding chair.
- The museum is equipped with lifts and ramps to make it accessible for people with reduced mobility.
- On level -1, next to the reception, you will find a baby area.
- The museum offers free wifi.
- If you want to visit the museum at your leisure, I recommend that you visit in the morning hours, from 9.30 am to midday and during the week, as it is less crowded.
This is the museum shop
Inside the museum you will find the shop and the bookshop. It is dedicated to all ages and has content in French and English. With your normal ticket you can access the shop which is located behind the ticket office and has the same opening hours as the museum.
In this shop you can buy art books, catalogues and works of painting, sculpture, photography, etc. All this makes this shop your reference bookshop if you need information on art from the period from 1848 to 1914.
You can also buy gifts inspired by the works in the museum, products related to the temporary exhibitions or choose some postcards to send as souvenirs to your loved ones. There are also various games about the museum's collections to have fun with the family on the way home.
If you want to take home a souvenir of your visit to the museum, you can go online through the shop's website.
Where to eat if you visit the museum
The museum offers two different dining areas. Here you can enjoy different products and drinks or menus for lunch or dinner after your visit to the museum.
The restaurant, in addition to being a majestic space with its high ceilings typical of the old train stations and its contrasting chandelier and golden ceilings, offers menus and traditional dishes from the French gastronomic offerings of chef Gabriel Ferrier and Benjamin Constant. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:45 to 17:30 and on Thursdays from 11:45 to 14:45 and from 19:00 to 21:00.
If you prefer something more informal or just a snack, you can always go to Café Campana, designed by the Campana brothers, whose atmosphere will transport you to a world under the sea as a tribute to Art Nouveau.
The menu is periodically redesigned but you can find salads, stews, gourmet desserts, ice creams, etc. The café is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 4.45pm and on Thursdays from 10.30am to 7pm.