8 Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines

Getting Musee d’Orsay tickets before your visit is the best way to avoid standing in line at the door and to make the most of your time in Paris.

You have finally made it to Paris. You love art so much that you can’t wait to visit all its museums and art galleries. You have heard wonderful things about Musee d’Orsay – many say they even prefer it to the Louvre (I personally don’t, but this is a different story and a matter of pure personal taste).

This is one of the top 10 museums in the world, with a fantastic collection of impressionist art such as paintings of Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. And let me not mention the regular special exhibits – I happened to visit during Degas At The Opera, and it just so happens that Degas is one of the painters I appreciate the most.

This is just about where the good news end. Musee d’Orsay gets more and more visitors each year. In 2018, more than 3.2 million people decided to explore this fantastic art gallery. This means that the museum is inevitably crowded, and that unless you have a thing for lines, you should absolutely get Musee d’Orsay tickets before your visit.

But worry not! Getting Musee d’Orsay tickets is easier than you may think, and if you get skip the line ones you’ll be able to get in swiftly so all you have to do is open your eyes to admire the incredible art (oh, and the beautiful building too).

Since I have recently been to Paris and I have visited this gallery, I have done a good deal of research to discover all the ways of easily get in (I will tell you which one my favorite is a bit later). In this post, I sum up the best ways to get Musee d’Orsay tickets and share some information and tips that will help you make the most of your time there.

But first, let me share some background information on Orsay Museum.

Musee d'Orsay tickets
Musee d’Orsay is a fantastic building

Table of Contents

Why You Must Visit Musee D’Orsay When In Paris

What a fantastic city Paris is! I kept postponing a trip there and eventually made up my mind and visited recently. I soon realized that I had been missing out for a long time and vowed to got again and again. This is a place where all kind of travelers are bound to find something they enjoy – incredible architecture; art; wine; food and even shopping.

As it offers so much, Paris is inevitably crowded with tourists. I have photos of the longest lines at the Eiffel Tower and at Versailles Palace – I took them because I could hardly believe my eyes.

Musee d’Orsay is another place that gets lots of visitors. I must admit that I had to elbow my way through Degas’ Exhibit and that I caught myself wishing for all those visitors to be gone so that I could enjoy one of my favorite painters in peace.

But I don’t blame tourists for wanting to visit. After all, this is where they find paintings such as Cézanne‘s The Cardplayers, or Monet‘s Houses of Parliament. You’ll be able to see pieces by Vincent Van Gogh, who lived in Paris’ Montmartre from 1886 until his death. You will find paintings by Gaugin, Manet and Pisarro. And this is just to name a few!

Going to Paris without paying a visit to Musee d’Orsay would be a real pity – so make sure you go! And don’t worry too much about the crowds: if you follow my tips on getting Musee d’Orsay tickets, you will be able to skip the lines to get in, and to really make the most of it.

Some background information about Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay not only houses the most extensive Impressionist art collection in the world (with pieces dating between 1848 and 1914), but is in and of itself a work of art. The building that houses the museum is the former Gare d’Orsay, a train station that was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition in the Beaux Arts style in the area where the derelict Palais d’Orsay used to be located, very close to the Louvre.

Gare d’Orsay served as the main station for trains directed to southwestern France between 1900 and 1939. After that, it was used to serve only Paris’ suburbs as by then its platforms were too short for modern trains.

After 1939 Gare d’Orsay was used as a mailing center for packages that were sent to prisoners of war during WWII and it became the set of various movies.

Talks to turn the station into a museum started in 1975, and at the end of 1977 it was finally decided to build the Musee d’Orsay in it – the building was classified as a Historical Monument in 1978 and the museum was finally inaugurated on 1 December 1986.

The building underwent major renovation in 2011, and in fact inside it is at the same time incredibly modern and very classic. The ground floor has a main hall and side ones with smaller exhibition rooms.

Though the paintings are the main attraction at Orsay Museum, while visiting make sure not to skip other departments such as photography, sculpture and decorative arts. In fact, I strongly advise you to spend some time admiring the building. I walked all the way to the top floor where all there is is just a balcony to view the center hall and the beautiful watch at the center of it. It gives you an idea of how big the museum is, and of how many visitors it gets at once!

Why is the Musee d’Orsay always so crowded?

The number of visitors to Musee d’Orsay constantly keep increasing, and – as previously said – in 2018 more than 3 million people went there to admire the extraordinary works of art.

Adding to the permanent exhibit there also are some temporary ones that end up attracting even more people. More and more people need to get Musee d’Orsay tickets in advance if they want to be sure to get in!

But what’s the big deal?

Well, if you are a fan of Impressionism this really is the place to go. You get to see the very best of 19th and early 20th century art all in one place.

The fact that the Musee d’Orsay is always so crowded means that you should plan your visit carefully. It’s better that you buy your Musee d’Orsay tickets in advance so that you can skip the lines at the desk.

IN SHORT: These are the best Musee d’Orsay tickets that are also skip the line:

PLEASE NOTE: Regardless of the kind of ticket you bought, you will have to go through security checks and have your bags scanned before entering Musee d’Orsay. These lines are shorter and faster than those for getting tickets.

TIP: Remember that as per Musee d’Orsay regulations, only bags that are no larger than 60 x 40 cm are allowed. That’s the size of a carry on suitcase, so honestly don’t take that and leave at home any thing such as weapons (yes, even a pocket knife) or flammable items to make your life easier.

Continue reading for more tips on how to fully enjoy the Musee d’Orsay and on how to skip the lines!

Visiting Musee d’Orsay more in depth

The basic Musee d’Orsay tickets allow you to stay at the museum for however long you want. I asked a person working there how long a visit normally takes and all she said was “a day is not enough.”

I admit I made the mistake of not getting a guide or an audio-guide when I visited Musee d’Orsay, and all I have to say is that I regret it. Ok, the info on the panels next to some paintings provided some information. But first of all, for most of the pieces all you get in the plaque is the name of the piece, the author and the year. It really is not enough.

My recommendation is to at least get an audioguide – you can take one directly at the museum, you don’t even have to reserve it in advance, and it only costs €5.

Having said so, I am not a fan of audioguides and much prefer live ones. A guide will take you swiftly through the security checks; she or he will point you to the most important pieces. A guide knows how to move around the museum so you don’t have to fiddle with the map to find what you are looking for. And though a tour won’t last more than two hours, after that you will have the chance to stay at the museum for as long as you like.

If you are thinking of getting a guided tour to the Musee d’Orsay, these are some good ones

Continue reading to discover how to get Musee d’Orsay tickets and skip the lines.

Musee d'Orsay tickets central hall
The central hall at Musee d’Orsay

8 Clever Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Line

Keep in mind that you can’t buy tickets to the Musee d’Orsay on the official website. If you try to do that, you will be redirected to FNAC – of which I will talk about below.

Way N. 1: Buy Musee d’Orsay tickets via a third party site

Perfect for: Ease of mind

Advantages: There many third party sites buy tickets and you won’t have troubles finding the perfect one for you.

Disadvantages: Tickets can be slightly more expensive than those on the official tickets.

The best way to get skip the line Musee d’Orsay tickets is via third party websites. These have the largest offer and they are very easy to use. You don’t even have to print the ticket – as long as you download the app of the company that sold you the ticket, you will have a bar code and that will be enough to get you in.

These are the best tickets for Musee d’Orsay which include skip the line access:

TIP: If you go for the very basic option, make sure to pick at least an audioguide once you get to the museum! It only costs €5.

Continue reading to discover other Musee d’Orsay tickets that allow you to skip the line but which also include a guided visit.

Way N. 2: Take a group guided tour

Perfect for: Learning more about Musee d’Orsay

Advantages: You have a guide showing you around the museum and its most important pieces.

Disadvantages: Groups can be quite large.

There are many many companies that offer guided tours of Musee d’Orsay that include skip the line tickets. Tours are easy to book – pick a date; pick a time; show up at the meeting point. The guide will take the printed ticket for you so you really have to worry about nothing.

Group tours usually last about two hours and go over the highlights of the museum. After the tour, you can stay in the museum for as long as you want (well, at least until closing time!).

These are the best guided group tours that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

Way N. 3: Take a private guided tour

Perfect for: Families with children

Advantages: You have the guide all to yourself (or your small group).

Disadvantages: Unless you can share with a larger group, it ends up being quite expensive.

If you want a guided tour but have children or don’t like large groups, you may want to opt for a private or semi-private group tour. It works the exact same way as a regular group tour, but it will be more expensive. The good news is that the price shown is generally per group so if there is a good number of people it may end up being actually quite convenient!

These are the best guided private tours that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

Degas at the Opera
Degas is one of the artists you can admire at Musee d’Orsay

Way N. 4: Get a combo ticket to Musee d’Orsay and another museum

Perfect for: Seeing the best of the city

Advantages: You get to visit two museums with one booking, or even cruise the Seine for fabulous views of the city.

Disadvantages: The price of combo tickets may be higher than the combined prices of tickets to Musee d’Orsay and other attractions.

This option is available for combo tickets to Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and Orangerie (a fantastic gallery of Impressionist art located in the Jardin de Tuileries), Musee d’Orsay and Musee Rodin (a great collection of sculptures) and even for Musee d’Orsay and a Seine River cruise. It’s a great idea if you intend to visit a couple of museums while in Paris, and most of the time you don’t even have to visit both on the same day.

These are the best combo tickets for Musee d’Orsay and other museums:

TIP: If you don’t want to buy your tickets online for Orangerie and Rodin, just go to the museum, get the combined ticket at the door (there will be a line, but much much shorter), and visit that museum and then go to Orsay.

Way N. 5: Get the Paris Pass

Perfect for: Those planning to see more attractions in Paris

Advantages: You get skip the line tickets to many attractions.

Disadvantages: You have to book entrances to the each attraction separately. It’s hardly a money.saver.

The Paris Pass is an efficient way to get skip the line tickets to many museums in Paris, including Musee d’Orsay. The only one that will also give you access to the Eiffel Tower is the Paris PassLib which costs €109 for the 2-day pass and €159 for the 5-day one. You can get it here.

These are other Paris Pass options that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

the watch at Musee d'Orsay
A view from one of the balconies

Way N. 6: Buy Musee d’Orsay tickets on FNAC website

Perfect for: A no frills option

Advantages: You can pick up your physical ticket at one of the many locations in Paris.

Disadvantages: FNAC website isn’t easy to navigate, and the English version is not as complete as the French one.

FNAC is a massive online retail store that sells just about anything, or so it seems – including tickets to events and attractions. I don’t like the website: it’s not easy to navigate, and if you buy tickets through it you have to actually get them delivered at your address or go pick them up at one of their locations (there are some all over Paris so you will surely find one near you).

Unfortunately the official website of Musee doesn’t directly sell tickets but directs you to FNAC for sales.

To be fair, the website tends to be confusing, and it is not very user friendly. Upon navigating you will see that only the main page is in English, but you can ask Google to translate the other pages. Anyways, if this is a good option for you, the website is this or this and adult tickets start at €15.40 for skip-the-line access.

If you want to join a guided tour, there is an extra €6 fee – so the total payable on the FNAC website is €21.40. Please note that the guided tours can last up to two hours and children under the age of 13 aren’t admitted.

Way N. 7: Visit Musee d’Orsay on Thursday evening

Perfect for: Night owls

Advantages: You buy your ticket directly at the museum.

Disadvantages: Others may have your same idea (but I honestly don’t foresee this).

The Musee d’Orsay is open until 9:45 pm on Thursdays, with last admission at 9:00 pm. This is probably your best option to visit, because you can buy tickets directly at the museum (they cost €14) and the museum will be significantly less crowded in the late evening, when most people will be done with their sightseeing and already sitting for dinner and drinks.

Way N. 8: Get your Musee d’Orsay tickets at Paris Visitor Bureau locations 

Perfect for: Another easy, no frills and last minute option

Advantages: You can purchase tickets at one of the many Paris Visitor Bureau locations, including at Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly airports.

Disadvantages: Tickets may be sold out for the day you want them.

This is written very small, at the very end of the page of the official website of Musee d’Orsay, but tickets can actually be bought in person at Tourist Information Points in Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris-Orly airport, and even Versailles Tourist Office. If you land in Paris and haven’t made reservations yet, you may want to give it a try. The website contains no information on the price of tickets sold at these locations, but I suppose they are just the official ones – €14.

Claudia - Musee d'Orsay tickets
Exhausted after a day at the museum

Other Useful Information For Visiting Musee D’Orsay

Book in advance

I recommend making advanced reservations for Musee d’Orsay. Especially if you have limited time in the city and this is a museum you want to visit, don’t take any chances. This post has provided ample information on all the options you have so that you don’t get stuck without tickets!

How to get to Musee d’Orsay

All people that have pre-booked tickets can get in from Entrance C.

The museum is located on 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur. Getting there is fairly easy and you have several options.

By metro

The easiest way to get to Musee d’Orsay is by Metro. Take line 12 and get off at Solferino.

By bus

Alternatively, you can get to Musee d’Orsay by bus. The buses that stop nearby are numbers 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 87, and 94.

By hop on hop of bus

If you are interested in doing a tourist round of Paris, you can get to Musee d’Orsay by hop on hop off bus. You can get your hop on hop off bus ticket here.

By Batobus

The Batobus is a hop on hop off boat service – quite similar to a hop on hop off bus, except there is no commentary but just an announcement of the various stops. You can buy a one day or a two-day pass and it stops at various key locations, including Musee d’Orsay. You can buy your Batobus ticket here.

Opening times

Musee d’Orsay is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, except on Thursdays when it is open until 9:45 pm.

The museum is closed on 1 May and 25 December.

Prices of Musee d’Orsay tickets

The official price for Musee d’Orsay tickets is €14 for tickets bought directly at the museum, and €15.40 for tickets bought via the FNAC site.

A reduced fare of €11 is available for EU citizens accompanying a child under the age of 18.

Free tickets to Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay is free every first Sunday of the month. Visitors under 18 years of age can get in for free, as well as visitors who are between 18 and 25 and are EU citizens or long term residents. Disabled visitors and their chaperon as well as unemployed visitors can also get in for free.

There is no need to make reservations for free tickets.

Security checks

All visitors, regardless of what Musee d’Orsay tickets they may have purchased, will have to go through security checks. Be prepared to get your bags scanned and leave any bulky item in your room. Also avoid taking things such as inflammable items or pocket knives as they are considered weapons.

The website of the museum makes no mention of dogs such as guide dogs. In doubt, call in advance to ask whether you can take your service dog with you.

Length of visit

When I asked a person working at Musee d’Orsay how long the visit normally takes, she said that a day is not enough. I think she was right! I spent a few hours there and I think I have seen a portion of the exhibit. Having said that – make sure to factor enough time for your visit and not to go to the museum too late in the day, because you may risk having to leave without having seen all of it. The good news is that entrance is not timed!

Toilets at Musee d’Orsay

Toilets can be found on level -1 and on the ground floor of the museum.

Musee d'Orsay tickets
Degas at the Opera – a special exhibit at Musee d’Orsay

Accessibility of Musee d’Orsay

Disabled visitors can access the museum through Entrance C. There are ramps and elevators for wheelchair users.

Eating at Musee d’Orsay

There are three different places to eat at Musee d’Orsay. Two are nice cafés where you can sit down for a drink, a snack or a quick meal. One is a proper restaurant.

The best time of day to visit Musee d’Orsay

If you want to avoid the largest crowds at Musee d’Orsay make sure to go early in the morning or, if you are visiting on a Thursday, after 6:00 pm!

Final tips for visiting Musee d’Orsay

Look for special exhibits (and make time for them)

Before visiting Musee d’Orsay check out if they have any special exhibits. There usually is no extra charge to enter, but you may want to schedule your visit depending on when the exhibit starts or ends, and you will definitely have to factor in some extra time if there is an exhibit.

Bring your camera

Musee d’Orsay is an incredible building, and there are many pieces of arts that call for a photo. Bring your camera and make sure to turn off the flash.

Wear layers and comfortable shoes

There is no dress code for visiting Musee d’Orsay, but keep in mind that it’s cold inside when it’s hot out, and viceversa, the heating is on when it is cold outside. Wear layers and comfortable shoes as you’ll be standing a lot!

Beware of pickpockets

Musee d’Orsay is so packed that pickpockets have an easy life there. Make sure to keep your valuables safe – zip your bag and wear it across your shoulder; wear your backpack in the front.

Further readings about Paris and France

Are you planning a trip to Paris and France? Make sure to read my other posts:

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Read what you should know about visiting Musee d'Orsay - via @clautavani
Find out how to get Musee d'Orsay tickets and skip the line - via @clautavani

2 thoughts on “8 Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines”

  1. Hi Claudia-
    I bought the Paris Museum pass. Do you know if I need to make separate reservations to see the Degas exhibit?

    • Sorry for the delayed reply – no, you don’t need separate reservations. Just a reservation for the Orsay Museum 🙂


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