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The Orsay Museum, Paris’ most famous train station?

May 30, 2012

With its perfect location by the River Seine, just in front of the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre museum, the Orsay Museum has definitively become one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. The building is home to an amazing collection of worksof arts which includes many masterpieces by  Impressionist  painters such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Paul Renouard, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet to name a few…

The Museum is one of the most famous in the world, yet, curiously enough, it only opened its doors as a museum in 1986. The story of the building is quite fascinating: initially, the Orsay Museum was a huge railway station built at the very end of the 19th century, hence the huge clocks and city names encrusted on its facade. It served the west and southwest of France and opened to welcome visitors  to the 1900 World Fair. It was used as a train station until 1939. It was then left almost abandoned and was supposed to be replaced by a hotel in the 1970s. Jacques Duhamel, then Minister of Culture, vetoed the project and fought  hard to have  the building listed as a Historic Monument. A bid was launched to turn the building into a museum. After a few years, the Grand Opening took place in December 1986 in the presence of then French President François Mitterand. More than 2.000 pieces of art, most of them coming from the nearby Musée du Jeu de Paume, were on display.

The Museum has recently undergone a huge restoration in order to promote the impressionist paintings. Since it is a major Parisian attraction, it is strongly recommended that you book your tickets in advance. The visit itself can take from 1 hour to a full day! If you plan on spending some time there, two restaurants offer a pleasant setting for a break: the Café Campana, on the top floor, just behind the clock, serves classic French dishes, while the Orsay restaurant, on the 1st floor, offers a breathtaking decorum left unchanged since the station’s opening.

Orsay Museum

1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur,

75007 Paris

33 (0)1 40 49 48 14

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 6pm and Thursday from 9.30am to 9.45pm

The entrance ticket for permanent collections costs 9€

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