History of Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay, originally built as a railway station, and it opened in 1900 in time for the Universal Exhibition. It functioned as a train station, with a built-in hotel, until 1939. By that time, the platforms had become too short for the longer, more modern trains that were being used.
After 1939, it served several different purposes. During World War II it was a mailing centre for sending packages to prisoners of war. Then those same prisoners welcomed home here when they returned to Paris after the liberation.
It even used as a movie set for several films, including one by Orson Welles. It nearly demolished to make way for a new hotel, but saved.
Thank heaven, and plans made to turn it into the museum you see today.
Since its opening in 1986, it is the house of the most extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world.
I can guarantee that you’ll recognize many of the pieces here. The best-known works of artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Degas.
There are around 2000 paintings and 600 sculptures from the period between 1848 and 1914. Expect lots of other people here because this is a popular place in Paris.
You can buy tickets ahead online. There are audio guides you can get for 5 Euros. However, I recommend downloading a walking tour of the museum on your phone ahead of time for free.
There are a couple of cafeteria-type places to grab a bite, as well as the fancier restaurant, which located in the dining hall of the former hotel.
Even if you’re not eating, it’s still worth going to take a look and imagine people eating here before jumping on a train downstairs.
Another point you don’t want to miss is the big clock at the top that has a spectacular view over Paris right over to the Sacré-Cœurchurch in Montmartre.
It’s a very popular spot to snap a photo. Nearby is a big bean bag chair that kind of looks like a comfy baseball glove where you can give your feet a break.
To appreciate the history of the building, make sure to stand high on one end.
You get a good look at the curved roof and the best vantage point to imagine it as a busy train station with the enormous gilded clock to keep things running on time.
I also recommend checking out the model of Paris that’s underneath the floor and gives you a bird’s eye view of the city plus the exquisitely detailed model of the Paris Opera House that built back in 1862.