Musée d’Orsay, Paris

One of the top museums to visit in Paris is the Musée d’Orsay. Originally a major train station in Paris, Gare d’Orsay closed in 1939. It took a few years for it to be decided whether it should be torn down or used as something else. In 1986, Musée d’Orsay opened its doors to show off the fine collection of art housed inside.

musee d'orsay exterior

Exterior of Musee d’Orsay

My boyfriend and I are fans of museums, and he’s particularly fond of art museums, so a visit here was definitely on the agenda while we were in Paris. We’d got off the metro at Pont Neuf and walked along the riverside as it was such a lovely day, discovered lock bridge and finally found ourselves at the old train station. As we approached, the exterior was stunning and we made our way to the entrance. The modern sign for the museum is out the front of the museum (handily) and is in contrast with the traditional building. And there’s a statue of a rhino – I’m still not sure why.


Random rhino

We joined the fairly short queue, passed through the metal detectors and queued up to purchase our tickets. We’d already struck lucky with the Louvre by being able to snag free entry (yay for being EU citizens under 25), and didn’t think we’d be that lucky again. However, as we got to the desk, the lady kindly started telling us that as EU citizens we could get free entry…again! Score!

There’s a strict no-photo policy in the museum, with signs everywhere which are enforced by scary men standing around shouting at tourists. It’s a shame really, because the building inside it incredible and so photogenic. It’s so pretty and not at all what you’d expect when you see it from the outside. I did manage to snap one from a porthole in a corridor though.

musee d'orsay interior

We made our way up the central concourse, and checked out the art pieces dotted along the way, as well as in rooms off to either side. There are 3 floors to explore in all, with different eras and styles in different sections.

We’d read that there were some Van Gogh pieces here, and ever since we visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam we’ve kind of been fans. So we headed up to the second floor and searched for his section. I think there were about 24 pieces of his there, including his self portrait, which looked a lot like my boyfriend  who had the same colour clothes on as in the portrait, as well as a nice ginger beard. We also spotted Starry Night Over the Rhine and The Church at Auvers. The names didn’t mean much to us but we definitely recognised the paintings. We saw a lot of pieces we recognised, of other artists too not just Van Gogh. I’d definitely recommend doing a bit of research to find out what’s here, so that you don’t miss anything. We spent ages searching for one painting, and would have totally missed it if my boyfriend hadn’t researched beforehand.

river view

View from the balcony

I really enjoyed seeing the building here, but we also enjoyed this museum, with my boyfriend definitely enjoying it more than me. It’s got some recognisable pieces in there, but if you’re only going to go to a couple of museums I wouldn’t put this at the top of the list.



  • You can buy a joint ticket for here and Musée Rodin, making it better value to visit both in the same day. They’re close enough that you can enjoy a gentle stroll between them, and it’s definitely possible to do both in a day. Musée Rodin is more sculpture based than this museum, so it’s not too much of the same thing either.
  • There’s a funky cafe with a balcony upstairs if you need a break and a bit of fresh air with a great view of the river.
  • There’s a few different metro options for getting here:

– Assemblée Nationale and Solférino

– Tuileries – enjoy a walk through Jardin des Tuileries and across the bridge

– Pont Neuf – walk along the bank, cross over at lock bridge and continue along the bank to the museum


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