There would hardly be a traveler unfamiliar with the significance of museums when it comes to Paris. Despite an overwhelming number of art galleries and museums in the city, when forced to pick a couple, most tourists easily settle on the Louvre and the Orsay. At the latter, you can see permanent mind-blowing art collections on display year-round. Most of these exhibits are impressionist and modern masterpieces by veteran artists of old, like Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, and others. Other than the main collection, this globally renowned museum showcases many other breathtaking temporary artworks, and also hosts stunning events on special occasions.
A lot of visitors to Paris typically include Orsay museum tours in their itineraries. However, exploring the place can be a bit daunting for first-timers, just like any other high-end attraction tour would be in the French capital. It is advisable to consider a guided tour in order to get a clear idea about all the artworks shown at this museum. Note that audio guides too are available in multiple languages, and capable of serving as your own personal tour guide. To help out further, below is a look at some of the best ways you can explore the museum like a pro.
Purchase your Museum Tickets in Advance
Since the Orsay museum is one of the most celebrated attractions in Paris, you can expect almost complete tourist pandemonium here. As a result, you would normally have to wait long stretches in tiring lines just to buy entry tickets. You can tackle this issue easily by purchasing your museum tickets beforehand. Note that you can get these on the official website of the museum. That also has the added advantage of getting you attractive discounts every once in a while. For your information, there is no need to buy entrance tickets if you are less than 18 years in age.
If you already have your tickets, it is best to enter the museum through Gate C, as this one would be less crowded when compared to the others. In case you do not have tickets, and the main entrance is crammed with tourists, skip your Orsay visit for the day and go to the Musee d’Orangerie, which is located in the spectacular Tuileries garden. This museum is placed to the front of the Orsay, and usually has much thinner crowds for you to navigate. At the Orangerie museum, you can even purchase special tickets grant access to both the Orangerie and the Orsay.
Concentrate on One or Two Wings
The Orsay museum may not be as big as the Louvre, but the permanent collection here actually spans over four floors. The collection here is categorized on the basis of periods ranging from the impressionism to the post-impressionist, covering decorative arts, photography, and sculptures. In addition, you can expect a decent number of people in front of each artwork. That also means it would not be practical to try and mull over each and every exhibit at the museum if you only plan on visiting a single day.
In order to get the best out of your visit, it is best to focus on either of two popular wings. Pulling this off well requires a clear idea regarding how exhibits are displayed here, the popular artists and their masterpieces, popular periods, etc. If you do not have all that much time to spare, it is recommended that you go directly to the fifth floor, which houses the main impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, Manet, Renoir, etc. If you do have the time, get a clear inside view of the architecture after that, pay a visit to the rooms exhibiting 19th and early 20th century furniture pieces, look through the giant clock to get a stunning view of the Louvre museum and the Tuileries garden, etc. This would surely cover all the best artworks one needs to see on their Orsay museum tours.
Avoid the Tourist Mayhem
According to many studies conducted in the field, the number of visitors arriving at the Orsay museum per year numbers more than three million. That is a lot of people; get past that problem by showing up at the right time, and for that, plan your other visits wisely. This would let you contemplate your favorite artworks in relative peace. Some of the times when tourist numbers tend to thin at the Orsay museum, are listed below.
- On weekdays
- Between 06:00 and 09:45 pm on Thursdays
- Through November and until March, which makes the low tourist season in Paris
- During lunchtime, or from 09:30 am to 01:00 pm
As mentioned earlier, there are skip-the-line tickets available online, with which you can beat the crowd and enter the museum quickly. You can save precious time by choosing the right line as well. Note that entry lines to the Orsay museum are different for individuals, groups, and professionals. Too many people waste time standing in the wrong line; make sure you do not.