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Paris Museums - Musée d'Orsay or Musée de l'Orangerie

Hello!

I will be in Paris for just over a day and a half (way too short, I know). We will not have a lot of museum time but I would like to see some art. I do not think I have to time to even contemplate the Louvre. Instead, I am debating between Musée d'Orsay or Musée de l'Orangerie. I'm leaning towards l'Orangerie primarily due to 1) Monet's lilies and 2) the Tuileries Gardens. That said, I would love recommendations. I will be in Paris the end of September and will likely be visiting a museum on a Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. I'm open to any suggestions but in particular would like to know your pros and cons of the two museums with respect to quality of art on display, value, crowds, and time it takes to do justice to the museum. Any help you can give me will be great!

Leigh

Posted by
3 posts

I have been to the Musee D'Orsay some years ago. It is well worth a visit. There are many rooms including with furniture etc. but it is by no means huge like the Louvre. I chronicles the development of Impressionism and similar art forms. I agree the Louvre is too big for a quick visit. I have not been to the Orangerie but plan to this September along with the Musee D'Orsay. Can't have too much of the Impressionists. Frances

Posted by
8164 posts

If you can only do one, then do the Orsay which has a wonderful Impressionist collection as well as a lot of salon sculpture and paintings from other movements. that is unless seeing the huge Monet lily murals is important to you. I find them decidedly underwhelming. A German tourist when I was viewing them laughed and said 'very expensive wallpaper' and that sums it up for me. But we are in the minority and many people find them a highlight of a trip to Paris -- take a look at the websites and see which one works for you. Another small manageable museum is the Marmottan which contains many Monets including the small painting that named the movement "Impression Sunrise."

Posted by
733 posts

We went to both in the same day in 2015 and I loved them both....but if I had to choose I'd say Musee D'Orsay. It's much larger and will give you more to look at. But again, I feel they are both work a look ;)

Posted by
90 posts

We visited both in Sept. 2016. The L'Orangerie has Monet's Waterlilies and on another floor were some other works of art. I'm a huge Monet fan and could have spent half the day gazing at the Waterlilies! The d'Orsay has a number of galleries covering all types of art periods including a lovely Impressionist exhibit. If you are just doing one of these museum, unless Monet's Waterlilies is a Must, I'd suggest the d'Orsay since there are a variety of collections on exhibit.

When we return to Paris a new Must for me is Marmottan Monet Museum which owns the largest Monet collection, from Impression, Sunrise to Giverny's Water Lilies. Did I mention I am a huge Monet fan? ;)
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
489 posts

Orsay with RS guided tour on your phone... Wonderful and quick, you could easily pop over to the l'Orangerie (we were in and out in 30 min) I do believe the Monet lilies is a bit overrated, but if you are that close... then a must do!
The quality of art at the Orsay is exceptional. Look ahead at the website to see if you want to include any of the special exhibits. The building is exceptional! I would definitely go back to d'Orsay on our next visit to linger.

Posted by
2712 posts

They are both great. The d'Orsay is large, but still manageable for a visit of a few hours. Look ahead for special exhibits. l'Orangerie is small and easy. You could see it in an hour or two. We love seeing The Water Lillies. The size is awesome and knowing Monet was losing his sight makes it that much more impressive. But, not to be missed, the Guillaume collection downstairs. Fabulous paintings, usually not over crowded so you can actually see them. So, do both.

Posted by
3981 posts

You could perhaps do both as the Musee d'Orsay is open late (9:45) on Thursdays--check their website to confirm closer to September.

Posted by
4981 posts

Musee d'Orsay should be visited if for no other reason than just to see the building itself -- especially the inside. Not to mention the Impressionists that are among the best anywhere and are simply icing on the cake.

Posted by
4684 posts

The Orsay is much larger than the Orangerie. The Orangerie concentrates on Impressionism while the Orsay covers all styles of art from the early nineteenth century to WWI, including a large Impressionist section.

Posted by
5697 posts

My vote for both, too -- I could spend a LONG time gazing at the waterlilies at the Orangerie. Suggest you go to the top floor of the Orsay for the Impressionists before seeing more of the museum.

Posted by
14157 posts

Yes, agree with Laura B. Go to the top floor of the d'Orsay for the Impressionists then work your way down. To get to the top, walk straight back thru the main hall and hidden behind a wall are escalators that will take you to the 5th floor. Start there, then head down thru other galleries.

The Tuileries are just across the river from d'Orsay so easy to see even if you don't work in the Orangerie.

I am on the side of loving the large installations of the Water Lilies at the Orangerie. On the Rick Steves Best of Paris tour I did, the art historian who conducted us thru the Orangerie said Monet, himself, had designed the rooms and wanted the viewer to feel like they were surrounded by his garden. She also said he felt so bad that he was too old to serve in WWI that these were his gift to the people of France after the dreadful losses suffered during that conflict.

Posted by
9766 posts

Pam's and Laura's advice on how to tackle the Orsay is spot on. The Orsay can be overwhelming, and one can find oneself exhausted by the time you get to the fifth floor -- so it's smart to see that first.

Posted by
15644 posts

What art do you prefer? Which artists are your favorites? If it's at the Louvre, and you plan ahead, it's not daunting. You can concentrate on the collection that most appeals to you - Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Renaissance masters . . . If Monet is your favorite, the Marmottan is great. The Orsay has several works and more impressionists if you want.

The quality of the art is tops at all the museums. Value? You mean entrance fee? All are worth it if the place has what you want to see. I've rarely had the time to do justice to a museum, and then only a small one. I look at a museum visit as an enjoyment. If I see some pieces that touch me, that awe or inspire me, I've achieved my goal.

If you don't have any great desire to see something, don't even go to an art museum. There are so many wonderful places to see and things to do in Paris, choose what you most enjoy.

Posted by
2466 posts

You can easily do all 3 - get the Museum Pass to bypass the admission lines, though you'll have to go through Security.

The Tuileries is huge, but you don't have to see all the gardens.

At Musée d'Orsay there is Entrance C around the right hand corner where the admission line is. If you go early enough, you'll have the Impressionists to yourself for a few minutes.
L'Orangerie isn't very large, so even if you spend awhile looking at Monet, you'll even have time for lunch.

Posted by
15644 posts

At Musée d'Orsay there is Entrance C around the right hand corner where the admission line is. If you go early enough, you'll have the Impressionists to yourself for a few minutes.

Last time I was there was late April, 2 years ago. I meant to get there when they opened, but got the time wrong and arrived almost 1/2 hour after opening. After waiting in line for about 10 minutes to get through security with the museum pass, I got directions on how to go directly to the Impressionist galleries (behind the stairs, up the elevator and through the cafe). The rooms were already very crowded.

The Impressionist collections are the most popular and they are in the smallest rooms and there are just too many pieces jammed together in each room. I wouldn't want any one of them to be taken out of public view, but I sure would like for them to be displayed in about twice as much space.

Posted by
4061 posts

The d'Orsay website can help you make your choices. You will see you can buy combo tickets for the d'Orsay and either l'Orangerie or the Rodin museum. A guided group tour is also useful for a first-timer. The guide point out a few highlights and then you can browse on your own in context. Tickets for the tour are 6 euros, available at the door, plus regular admission which can be bought on-line.
The website also explains how the old railway station, with its bold-for-the-times metal frame, became a museum. Here's a link to the tour page: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/visit/admission/guided-tour-rates.html

Posted by
1 posts

We did both last September. The Orangerie is an amazing very small museum. The Monet daylilies are outstanding--we have a large panel in my city's art museum but the ones here are very different. Obviously, we love Monet. Also the rooms were designed by Monet to hold them. The small collection of other paintings are worth the trip. When you are at the Orangerie it's a small gem. The Orsay is much larger and filled with many different periods. You can do both in far less time that it would take to visit a very small portion of the Louvre (we spent 6 hours there and hardly scratched the surface). Just getting into and out of the Louvre is time consuming and in the short period of time that you have I wouldn't attempt it. We are going back in November and plan to visit both the Orangerie and the Orsay again (with someone who's never been to Paris).

Posted by
8293 posts

The Orsay is much larger and filled with many periods"

Actually the Musee d'Orsay is almost entirely dedicated to 19th century art. For lovers of Monet, visit also the Marmatton in Paris.

Posted by
7976 posts

my vote is for the Orangerie. It is unique in that it has the Monet cycle of water-lily paintings in panorama like oval room, the D'Orsay is not so unique as I do not think I need to ever go there again to see the permanent collection.

Posted by
2616 posts

While I certainly enjoyed Monet's waterlilies, I much preferred the rest of the art at the Orangerie, spent about 2 hours there late in the day and it wasn't crowded. I really loved the d'Orsay for its spectacular array of my favorite art, along with a special exhibit of Rousseau--had a bite at the lower level snack bar, spent a total of about 3 hours; arrival around 10 wasn't crowded at all but leaving around 1 it was noticeably more so.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks everyone for your wonderful advice! Thanks to you, I think I have convinced my friends to try both - Orangerie to at least see the lilies and Orsay for a longer visit. I appreciate all the help.

Leigh

Posted by
36 posts

We've been to both. Both are nice. Musee d'Orsay is far more impressive in my opinion. I am a big lover of impressionist art and the top floor of the Musee d'Orsay is somewhere that I could visit for hours. I would advise that you get advance tickets for the Musee d'Orsay. The lines for those who are without an advance ticket or a Paris Pass are very long and you can spend an hour or more waiting in line. We have bought the Paris Pass in the past and the Musee d'Orsay was on it. Musee l'Orangerie was on the Paris Pass as well. You can skip the lines with a Paris Pass. The Paris Pass is available at any of the sites that are covered by the pass. Of course you do have to endure the lines once at the location where you buy the Paris Pass. In the past we have gone to St. Chappelle, or some other site on the Paris Pass where the lines were not so long, to buy our Paris Passes. You can see the famous stained glass windows at St. Chappelle or visit the site where you bought the pass and then go over to the Musee d'Orsay or the Musee l'Orangerie, or both and get right in. We have found the Paris Pass to be of great value.

Posted by
11507 posts

For me , no question , I would visit the Orsay !

Posted by
5697 posts

Hughrenier's glowing recommendation of the "Paris Pass" could well be referring to the Paris Museum Pass -- general agreement on this board that the other "passes" which package transportation with attractions are overpriced for what they deliver.