Musée d’Orsay is one of the most well-known museums in Paris (after the Louvre, of course) and a must if you’re an art lover traveling to France! In case you have it on your bucket list, this article will tell you everything you need to know about avoiding the lines at Musée d’Orsay.
Musée d’Orsay is one of the top museums in Europe and the world and a very popular choice for tourists of all kinds!
Hosting the largest impressionism art collection in the world, it should come as no surprise why over 3 million people visit this museum per year!
The museum is actually located in an old train station (called Gare d’Orsay), on the left bank of the Seine and it has an incredible architecture. It hosts a rich collection of Post-Impressionist and Impressionist art and some of the most famous names you will find there are Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, Courbet – and this is just to name a few! You’ll love it, I promise!
- If you’re in a rush…
- Option 1: Buy your ticket online
- Option 2: Get a skip-the-line ticket with guided tour
- Option 3: Get combo tickets
- Option 4: Enter using one of the city passes
- Option 5: Visit the museum on Thursdays after 6 P.M.
- BONUS 1: Free entrance to Musée d’Orsay
- BONUS 2: Best picture spots at Musée d’Orsay
- Practical information for your visit to Musée d’Orsay
It also happens to be my favorite museums in Paris – and trust me, I’ve seen them all after living in the city for 2 years! It’s really impressive and I really can’t wait to see it again – plus, it’s much easier to navigate than the Louvre!
But because the d’Orsay Museum is so amazing and unmissable, this means there are also crowds of travellers there each and every day, regardless of the season. The average waiting time is around one hour – but in this post I’ll teach you how to skip the lines and save your precious vacation time!
Are you ready? Let’s go!
If you’re in a rush…
Here is a round-up of the two best options to buy your tickets online and avoid the crowds:
- Skip-the-line Musée d’Orsay ticket – 14€
- Audio guide – 6€ (you can also buy it right there for 5€, no lines)
- Guided tour – 39€
Now let’s jump directly into the 5 best ways of buying your museum tickets and avoid the long lines:
Option 1: Buy your ticket online
Buying your ticket online beforehand is one of the most popular and efficient solutions for smart travelers, because this means you won’t have to spend time waiting in queue at the entrance to buy your ticket from there!
Naturally, you might first check the official website to see the rates there. Currently, the online price for the general admission is 15,40€ there and they have an official partnership with FNAC. The buying procedure is not complicated: you will have to select your desired tickets and amount, register on the website by entering your details and then proceed to the online payment. You can choose from receiving your tickets at home, pick them up from one of the FNAC locations or print them at home or simply present them digitally on your phone.
While you can, of course, use this option, I actually found a cheaper and just as official alternative online! What I suggest is to head over to Paris Info (the official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Paris) and buy the tickets from there – the ticket will be 14€ instead of 15,40€. Win!
By the way, you can also buy your Musée d’Orsay tickets for the same price of 14€ at the Paris Tourist Information Points. They have stands in the airports such as Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly, you can ask at the Info Point about them.
Now, I need to explain a bit about the “expiration” dates on the tickets. When you purchase a ticket, you won’t need to select a certain date and time for your visit, as they’re valid for 3 months after the purchase. This means that you cannot buy your ticket more than 3 months in advance, but it also means you are not time-restricted and you can choose to visit the museum on your desired day and time.
All the prices and tickets in this section are for the permanent collections and exhibitions only. There are also temporary exhibitions at the museum and the entrance fee for them is extra and option – you can choose to visit them there on the spot. You can check if they currently have anything going on like a concert, festival or a temporary exhibition here.
NOTE: You will need to use Entrance C (this one is for people with priority entrance) if you have the tickets bought beforehand. You cannot buy your ticket online and pick it up from the museum. You can scroll to the “Practical information” chapter at the end of the article to find the map with all 4 entrances to the museum.
PRO TIP: If you’re an art lover that loves to know interesting details about why and how the paintings were made, then I really recommend the audio guide as well. You can either buy the audio guide here for 6€ or just get it at the gate for 5€. I felt it added an extra layer of awesomeness when I visited by myself!
If you don’t want to buy an official audio guide, you can get a free one online. I recommend this one by Rick Steves, which I find to be super good and useful.
PRICES AT THE GATE
The ticket at the gate is 14€ (same as on the Paris Info website), but you will have to wait in the queue with everyone else in order to get it.
You can purchase the audio guide at the museum separately (even if you have your ticket already bought online) and it will be 5€.
Option 2: Get a skip-the-line ticket with guided tour
This is the option I recommend to anyone that’s visiting the d’Orsay Museum for the first time, or if you’re an art lover!
Why? Because you will learn A LOT about all the artists there, as well as the stories behind the artworks and many fun facts that will make the entire experience even more interesting. Plus, you will also be able to spend some time in the museum even after the tour is over.
The next time I am coming back to Orsay Museum, I am definitely taking a guide!
How does it work? You will have to meet with your guide a bit before the admission time (at least 15 minutes before), then you will be guided through a special entrance together with the rest of the group. Except for the time you’ll spend going through the security check, you won’t waste any other precious time at the entrance! 🙂
Below you can find the hand-picked guided tours I am recommending:
- Skip-the-line guided tour – 39€ (please note that this tour is not operating during the winter)
- Guided tour with gourmet lunch at the museum – 120€
- 2-hour private guided tour – 279€ per group (up to 4 people)
- Louvre Museum + Musee d’Orsay guided tour combined – 169€
- Special guided visit for families with children – 300€ for 4 people
Option 3: Get combo tickets
If you are interested in art and visiting more than this museum during your stay in Paris, I have great news! There are two combo options out there that will help you save some money.
Here are some general details right from the start:
- If you get the combined tickets, you will be able to visit the two museums on separate dates, you won’t have to visit them on the same date. Your combo ticket is undated and it’s valid for 3 months
- You will be able to skip the line to the museums with the combo tickets, as you will use the special entrance for people who already have their ticket bought (which is basically the security line, you will skip the long lines where people queue to buy their tickets at the gate).
Here are the two available combined tickets below:
3.1. Musée d’Orsay + Musée de l’Orangerie
IMPORTANT: Musée de l’Orangerie will be closed (except for the Nymphéas Room and temporary exhibition) until the 31st of March 2020.
The combo ticket for Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie is 19,40€ on the official website here. But again I have found a cheaper option on the Paris Info website here for only 18€, which I think is a great deal and it’s the same price as the one at the gate!
The normal entrance tickets to both of these combined would be 15,40€ (d’Orsay) + 6,50€ (l’Orangerie) = 21,90€. So, in total, you would save 3,90€ for the combo ticket if you buy from Paris Info website and 2,50€ on the official website. Plus, the combo ticket is available for both the permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Musée de l’Orangerie is only 600 m away from Musée d’Orsay, right across the Seine River, which is around 8 minutes by foot – so it can totally be visited on the same day if you wish to do so!
PRO TIP: If you still want to buy the combo ticket at the gate, I recommend going to Musée de l’Orangerie first, as it’s less popular so it will have less crowds and get the ticket from there. Then you can go do d’Orsay and jump the lines there! 😉
NOTE 1: If you buy it online, the combo ticket has the same validity period (3 months from the purchase date) as the admission ticket.
WHY SHOULD I VISIT MUSEE DE L’ORANGERIE?
Musée de l’Orangerie is located inside Tuileries Gardens and it’s definitely worth visiting as well. One of the main points of interest there is the beautiful series of water lily paintings by Claude Monet, called “Les Nymphéas”. You will also find famous works from Renoir, Cezanne, Matisee and Picasso there. It is a cute and tiny museum which I definitely recommend visiting, especially if you also want to visit Giverny – a town where Monet was painting those water lillies – a charming place!
3.2. Musée d’Orsay + Musée Rodin
The combo ticket can be purchased for Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin online on the official website for the price of 22,40€. The normal entrance tickets to both of these combined would be 15,40€ (d’Orsay) + 12€ (Rodin) = 27,40€. So, in total, you would save 5€ for the combo ticket. Plus, the combo ticket is available for both the permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Musée Rodin is only 1 km away from d’Orsay Museum, on the same side of Seine River (a 12-minute long walk).
PRO TIP: Same as I mentioned for l’Orangerie as well, if you want to buy the combo ticket at the gate, I recommend going to Musee Rodin first so you will have to wait in a shorter line, get the ticket and then visit d’Orsay Museum.
WHY SHOULD I VISIT MUSEE RODIN?
If you’re interested in sculpture, then you should definitely pay a visit to Musée Rodin! The museum showcases famous works by the well-known French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Besides the two main exhibition areas, the museum has a wonderful sculpture garden as well which I think it’s worth visiting!
3.3. Seine Cruise and Musée d’Orsay
Other than the two regular options above, I have found another cool combo ticket that not many people know about! You can get a Seine cruise combo with skip-the-line entrance to Musée d’Orsay here for 32€ per person. I think it’s so cool, as it includes sightseeing and a museum visit as well!
Option 4: Enter using one of the city passes
If you have an extensive itinerary for your Paris trip, then you might be considering purchasing a tourist city pass. There are 4 different city passes for Paris, but only two of them include Musée d’Orsay:
- Paris Museum Pass – 52€ for two days, 66€ for four days and 78€ for 6 days
- Paris Passlib’ – It’s a city pass that includes a Paris Museum Pass as well. 40€ for one day, 119€ for two days, 139€ for three days
Because Paris Passlib’ includes Paris Museum Pass as well, I will only explain the advantages of using a Paris Museum Pass below.
The pass will allow you to skip the lines to more than 50 museums and monuments in the city (including d’Orsay Museum) and you’ll have direct access there. This means you’ll be able to go to the museum, skip the line and use Entrance C (which is the special entrance for people who already have tickets, so you will only have to wait at the security check line – you cannot skip this one 😉 ).
Option 5: Visit the museum on Thursdays after 6 P.M.
Here’s a smart hack that many people don’t know about (although the word is spreading fast thanks to sites such as mine, sorry!) – d’Orsay Museum is open until late on Thursdays, more exactly until 9:45 P.M (compared to 6 P.M. on the regular days).
Which means that after 6 P.M. the lines will be much shorter and you might be able to get your tickets directly from the gate without having to wait for hours!
NOTE: On these days, the last tickets are sold at 9 P.M.
BONUS 1: Free entrance to Musée d’Orsay
Paris is an amazing city for museum lovers, as you can benefit from free entrance if you tick one of these boxes:
- You are less than 18 years old
- You are from 18 to 25 years old and you are an EU citizen/long-term resident
- You are an art history student
- Disabled visitors with one extra person
- If you accompany an EU citizen and that person is younger than 18 (2 adults max)
- Unemployed (I assume this one only concerns French citizens since it would be hard to show your official unemployment status in your language)
NOTE: In all of the cases above you will need to show proof, so make sure you don’t forget to bring your ID or other required documents with you!
Plus, the entrance to the museum is free for everyone on the first Sunday of each month. This may sound like an excellent solution, especially if your budget is low, but trust me – the lines will be HUGE and you will have to wait a lot, the museum will be very crowded as well – so is it even worth it? If you’re dying to see the museum and money is indeed a problem, then I guess you can go there super early and try to be one of the first people in line.
BONUS 2: Best picture spots at Musée d’Orsay
Without a doubt the most photogenic spot at the museum is the view-through clock on the top floor, which offers an amazing panoramic view over Paris! The clock is on the fifth floor, at the cafe. Make sure you don’t miss the rooftop terrace either – it has some pretty good views as well (but it’s unfortunately closed in the winter).
PRO TIP: Don’t be shy! Even if you don’t want to buy anything from the cafe, don’t be afraid to just walk though to see the view and snap some cool pictures!
NOTE: As for the photography policy, you are welcome to film and take pictures of the artworks (for personal or private use only). The usage of flash or selfie sticks is not allowed, though.
Practical information for your visit to Musée d’Orsay
Now that you know all the best ways of buying your tickets and avoiding the long lines at the museum, I couldn’t let you go without giving you some important practical info about your future visit to d’Orsay Museum!
1. Which are the opening times for the museum?
The museum is open every day from 9.30 AM to 6 PM except Thursday (when it is open until 9.45 PM). On regular days, the last tickets are sold at 5 PM.
ATTENTION: The museum is closed on Mondays and on the 1st of May and 25th of December every year.
You can check the up-to-date opening hours on their official website here.
2. How long will the visit take you?
It can take you anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on how much time you want to spend in front of each artwork. Click here to find the museum floor plan and you can also use the site to search for a certain artwork and find its location in the museum.
3. When should you visit Musée d’Orsay?
I’d suggest visiting the museum early in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds; I’d suggest getting there from 9 AM until lunch. Or you can visit on Thursdays after 6 PM, when the museum is open until 9.45 PM and not a lot of people know about it.
4. How to get to the museum
There are many different ways of getting to the museum and I’ll tell you all of them below:
- Full address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur (click on the link for Google Maps exact location)
- Metro: line 12, get down at Solférino station
- RER: line C, Musée d’Orsay station
- Bus: 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 87, 94
- Taxi – for example, the taxi price from the Eiffel Tower to d’Orsay Museum is around 14€, and from Gare du Nord train station to the museum it’s 20€.
5. Musée d’Orsay entrances – explained
There are 4 different entrances to the museum (btw, you can scroll up to the beginning of the article to see the map if you want to remember it).
Here they are explained:
- Entrance A – individual visitors (where people form the line to buy the tickets at the gate)
- Entrance B – pre-booked groups
- Entrance C – priority access and individual visitors with a ticket (the entrance you’ll use if you bought your ticket online beforehand or if you have a combined ticket or Paris Museum Pass)
- Entrance D – pre-booked school groups
6. What famous artworks can you see at Musée d’Orsay?
The collection is mostly made of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism painting from Vincent Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Paul Gauguin and many others.
Some examples of art pieces part of the collection of Impressionist art are Van Gogh’s world-famous “Starry Night Over the Rhone”, the “Bal du Moulin de la Galette” by Renoir or “Olympia” by Edouard Manet. There are also some sculptures and even photography there.
Yay, you have reached the end of my ultimate guide on buying tickets and avoiding the lines at Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France! I hope this post was useful to you and now you’re more than ready for your future visit to this amazing museum!
In this post I have told you everything you need to know about the 5 best options for buying the skip-the-line tickets to the museum, as well as the conditions for free entrance and some practical information for your visit to this unique place. You have everything you’ll need here!
Are you heading to the d’Orsay Museum soon? Which is your favorite museum in Paris? Let me know in the comments below, I’ll be happy to know!
I wish you a great time in Paris,
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