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Musee' D'Orsay or Orangerie for impressionist works

Going to Paris, with a side trip to Giverny at the end of March/April, with my 14 yr old granddaughter.
Would like to introduce her to some of Monet's works prior to going to Giverny.

Would appreciate opinions on which museum would be more interesting to see prior to our trip to Giverny.

Posted by
2025 posts

Definitely see the Waterlilies at the Orangerie. Your grandaughter should be amazed by them, and she will then see the real thing at Giverny.

Posted by
6934 posts

I would try to do both. The Orangerie is rather small. the main attraction is Monet's water lily series that was designed for the an excellent prep for Giverny, but the rest of the collection is rather overshadowed, and small, compared to the Orsay.

If you have time, the Orsay would "bracket" Impressionism, showing works before, and after, and from an array of artists of the era, providing context for what Monet did. If limited, then probably just the Orangerie, due to the focus on the lilies.

Posted by
7891 posts

How about going to bot D'Orsay & Orangerie. And while you're at it, throw in the Louvre. Love'em all.

Posted by
3860 posts

I don’t know how packed your schedule is but if you have time try to do both. Your granddaughter is free but may need a timed entry when you buy your ticket. The Musée d’Orsay has late entry with a reduced adult price on Thursday evenings. They are close enough to walk from one to the other. There are a couple of lovely restaurants in Musée d’Orsay which we’ve taken our similarly aged granddaughters to before going through the
Impressionist wing. That said, if your days
don’t allow time for 2, I’d pick the Orangerie since you will see his studio and the ponds at Giverny.

Posted by
256 posts

I agree with Mona. Both museums are so special, I've been to both multiple times, but if I could only pick one, I would definitely pick the Orangerie. The space with the paintings wall to wall, I could sit there for hours on end. Absolutely stunning.

Posted by
371 posts

I saw the water lilies at the Orangerie after visiting Giverny. Seeing Monet’s inspiration prior to seeing those panels was a wonderful way to experience it. If you can, definitely go to both museums.

Posted by
3961 posts

We did both and were so glad we did. The Musée d’Orsay has an amazing collection of Impressionism & post Impressionism. The Musée de l’Orangerie is one our favorite museums in Paris. When we were there years ago we were the only ones sitting and admiring the water lily’s. I am sure your granddaughter would love both museums! Nice introduction to Giverny. Enjoy!

Posted by
9122 posts

They are such different experiences -- I really think you have to do both.

In order to "understand" or get a sense of Monet's work, you have to go see the paintings at the Orsay. If she hasn't seen those (or his paintings at the Met or the National Gallery), she may well not understand why you are going to see this place called Giverny at all.

By contrast, I would go to the Orangerie after having gone to his gardens and house. You will see those paintings differently after having been in place, and knowing he made them towards the very end of his life as a gift to the nation. As others have said, it's a very different experience sitting and seeing the (few, huge, set aside in a special place built just done them ) water lily paintings than it is wandering around a museum looking at various works.

If you do end up going to the Orsay, I highly recommend going straight through on the main floor all the way to the back, and taking the escalators up to the top floor, and visiting the Impressionist galleries first.. The Orsay can be overwhelming, and if you try to see everything, you may run out of juice before seeing those works. In order to maximize your energy and be able to see them at your best, see them first.

What a wonderful thing to do for your granddaughter. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
302 posts

I’m an art historian (although not of France) and would recommend the Orsay if you can’t do both. The Orangerie is a wonderful museum, but it doesn’t give you the context of Impressionism the way the Orsay does. The waterlily paintings at the Orangerie are hugely important, but I think your granddaughter will understand more about Monet visiting the Orsay.

Posted by
15477 posts

As HK says, the Orsay helps put Monet's works in context with his contemporaries. For an excellent introduction to Monet's works, I recommend not the Orsay but the Marmottan. It has representative works that span Monet's development from his earliest to his latest works. It's about a 10 minute walk through a llovely park from the metro and It's rarely crowded (unlike the Orsay which can be wall-to-wall visitors in the Impressionist wing.

Posted by
1026 posts

Both are fabulous. The Orangerie I believe mostly has Monets' water lilies. But there are other Impressionist's works there as well. My personal favorite though is the Marmottan museum. It is much more intimate and has the largest collection of Monet's artwork of any museum.

Posted by
3860 posts

If you do go to Musee D’Orsay to the Impressionist wing, stop or eat in the cafe before the exhibit and see if the outside door is open that day. We find it open about 1/2 of the time when we are there and it’s fun to go out on the roof to see other landmarks in Paris. Our then preteen granddaughters had just read the book and seen the movie Hugo before our 2012 visit. They loved thinking about the museum being a repurposed train station, seeing other train stations sprinkled around the city from the vantage point of D’Orsay’s roof and standing behind the giant clock window after exiting the upstairs Impressionist wing. I know it’s not directly Monet related but it’s beautiful architecturally. See if she has seen the movie to give her an idea of the unique space of the d’Orsay’s layout, features and interior. .

Posted by
766 posts

If you visit both Orsay and Orangerie, you can buy a combined ticket. "Your ticket – valid for three months after purchase – can be used on two separate days, allowing time for an immersive visit to each museum." Lunch at Orsay is quite nice. The walk from Orsay to Orangerie is less than 30 minutes with most of it being along the Seine.

I did love Musee Marmottan which is dedicated to Monet's work. It is in a former mansion and is quite easy to maneuver. The added bonus is that it is not as heavily visited as the other two. Any chance of visiting all three?
I hope you'll visit the museum shop in Giverny. I use my shopping bags from it every time I go to the supermarket and love the memories they provide.