Across the Louvre Museum, in what was then popularly known as the Left Bank (inhabited by Gertrude Stein’s “Lost Generation”), is another gem of a museum, the Musee d’Orsay. Once the Gare d’Orsay, this former Orsay railway station had been converted to house the world’s most extensive collection of impressionists and postimpressionists paintings by masters like Monet, Gaugain, van Gogh, Manet, Sisley, Degas, Pissarro, Cezanne, and other art nouveau produced between 1848-1915.
Unlike the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay is “doable” in one day. Its six levels (which include a mezzanine) mirror the development of an artistic movement–with pre-impressionism at the ground floor and impressionism and post-impressionism at the upper level. So if you are in a hurry and have much to see–and in Paris, there are lots to see! —you can simply skip the floors that don’t interest you and go directly to where the magnificent paintings are, in my case to the fifth level: with Seurat’s “The Circus”, van Gogh’s “Church at Auvers”, and Camille Pissarro’s “Jeune paysanne faisant du feu” (Peasant girl making a fire).
Entrance to the museum is 8eur; you can book your ticket online, and wisely so, as there is always the possibility of a long line forming outside.
Just outside the Musee d’Orsay, across the Medici-inspired Jardin des Tuileries, is a specialized glass gallery that contains many of Claude Monet’s paintings. The Musee de l’Orangerie was featuring his most celebrated series of work, “Waterlilies” (also called Nympheas) at the time we were there.
Unfortunately, the small museum was closed on a Tuesday when we came; but that did not deter us from exploring its vast surroundings which also yielded gems. One can find a structure of Rodin’s equally celebrated sculpture “The Kiss”–the most celebrated is of course “The Thinker”–as well as “reclining figure” by Henry Moore in the garden.