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Ever since I found out I was going to see Paris, I realized that Musee d’Orsay had to be on my “must visit” list. It is an art museum that houses the most impressive the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world.
The museum is closed on Monday, so be sure to visit it from Tuesday to Sunday.
It was a cloudy and windy March day as I too the subway from Montparnasse – Bienvenue to Musee d’Orsay. There isn’t a direct line, I had to get down at “Invalides” station and get in a RER – sort of a train – for a station.
As I got up from the metro, I discovered a looooong line of people waiting at the A Entrance – the one for individual visitors. It was not only long, but S shaped line, so it took a while until I managed to get inside. (as always, click on the photos for a larger view)
The time passed however easily as there were some young people singing right next to the stairs. Their music was really good and enjoyed by many.
Also, the time passed easily as I started to talk with the couple right behind me, two nice Americans in their early 50ies coming from New York (who actually were impressed by my English).
Getting closer to the entrance we realized that there is a security check-up – including baggage. In fact, the people from the U.S. noted that “the world changed after 9/11”.
It only took a minute to buy a ticket – I bought one for the permanent exhibitions – 9 euro. You can choose to buy an audioguide which offers a lot of useful and interesting information on many of the exhibits housed in this lovely museum. I was rather on the run so I admit I didn’t buy one.
As I entered the museum I was impressed with the way it looks. Musee d’Orsay is in fact housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, an impressive Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The train station wasn’t used for many years, as, as early as 1939, the gare d’Orsay was out of use because the trains were much longer than the train station could accommodate.
Gare d’Orsay was abandoned until 1961 when Pompidou save it from demolition and it was in 1978 that Giscard d’Estaing, decided to use it as a museum for 19th and 20th century art.
Nowadays, Musee d’Orsay houses mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.
Unfortunately, it is strictly forbidden to take photos inside the museum. I admit I was sad that I couldn’t take photos with my favourite impressionists’ paintings. I don’t use blitz – as all the museums require, but I can understand the decision as, unfortunately, there are many people who break this rule and take photos using the blitz from their phones, tablets and camera.
The exhibits housed by the museum are indeed impressive. All of them! The statues, the photos, the art items from different periods and the paintings.
I chose to visit the museum starting from the lowest floor, the right side, then the left site, then the next floor and so on, keeping the best for the end: the impressionists – that can be found at the 5th floor (you can get there by elevator, stairs or even escalators).
The words cannot begin to describe just how enchanted my soul and eyes were just because I was able to see up close amazing paintings by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Simply impressive – and counting all the other art items exhibited – including paintings from Lautrec and many other paintures – this museum, I must say, is definitely worth a visit.
At the end of the impressionists’ gallery you’ll find yourself behind one of the ex-train station’s clocks – and this is the view.
You might want to book a day to see it and enjoy it (and even like that I am sure you won’t have too much time admiring all the art items! Here’s a video I found online showcasting some of the museum’s valuable pieces.
Of course, you can decide to skip some rooms and artists, and go see only some of the exhibits – for instance to see only the impressionists or only the symbolists, etc. In the end, each visitor chooses depending on time and preferences.
I loved this museum – it was in fact the first museum I saw by myself in a country, as my husband couldn’t accompany me that day.
At the exit you’ll find some statues representing women – also worthy of your attention.
All in all, on the run or taking the time to admire the wonderful pieces housed in this museum, I think that Musee d’Orsay is a must see museum in Paris. I was happy to see that it made it to top ten into a top most visited art venues in 2012.