FR | ES | EN

    Orsay Museum Guided Tour
    With Private Licensed Guide Lecturer

    Book an Orsay Museum Guided Tour to explore art evolution from Academicism to Impressionism et Post-Impressionism. Figure out how and why the impressionist art revolution happened in Paris in the second half of the 19th century. Discover main master pieces of Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot or Mary Cassatt. Understand impressionism key factors of success in Paris and the USA. Identify posterior art transformation with Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Vincent Van Gogh, or Paul Gauguin. Orsay is big, so your local private licensed guide will help you to make the most of your visit in the Musée d’Orsay, the most beloved one in Paris.

    Twilight view of the Orsay Museum along the Seine River to illustrate an Orsay Museum Guided Tour in Paris, France.

    Twilight view of the Orsay Museum along the Seine River. The architecture of this fabulous looking 19th-century building is also part of the Orsay Guided tour.

    Affordable private VIP Orsay Museum guided tour 

    Musée d’Orsay Guided Tour Essentials

    • Art history & Impressionism guided tour
    • Really private 2 hours Musée d’Orsay tour
    • A group of maximum 6 people exclusively yours
    • Skip-the-line tickets included
    • Morning, lunch-time, afternoon & evening tours
    • MA-level local licensed guide lecturer

    Why Visit the Orsay Museum?

    The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most famous in Paris. It opened in 1986 to house modern art from 1848 to 1914, a great period for French Art. Orsay Museum collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces is the largest in the world!

    The museum is also famous for its impressive collection of sculptures by artists as famous as Claudel, Bourdelle, Bartholdi, Daumier, Degas, etc. , with a lot of masterpieces as the Gates of Hell by Rodin.

    But the Musée d’Orsay is not only about paintings and sculptures, the museum also exhibits an important collection of Art Nouveau furniture and houses a huge photograph collection which is sadly very little shown.

    A model of the Opéra Garnier is shown at the end of the main hall.

    Last, the Orsay Museum regularly organizes first class temporary exhibits of works by nineteenth-century artists.

    Photo of the main hall of the Orsay Museum, to illustrate a Musée d'Orsay Guided Tour in Paris, France.

    Orsay Museum Guided tours by licensed guide lecturer.  View of the main hall of the Orsay Museum. This large open space illuminated by the natural light from the huge barrel vault glass roof is dedicated to sculptures meanwhile paintings are installed in lateral rooms where they protect from direct bright light.   


    Why an Orsay Museum Guided tour?

    Firstly, as your local guide holds the Guide-Conférencier card (highest level France guiding certification), he can use a specific entrance to avoid the long waiting of the normal queue ; you will be able to do so too, as we provide you skip-the-line-tickets.

    Secondly, Orsay is big and even if it is smaller than Le Louvre, It is one of the largest museums in Europe. Your expert tour guide will ease and optimize your stroll in the numerous floors of  the Orsay Museum.

    Taking an Orsay Museum guided tour with us is definitely the right solution to make the most of your visit at Musée d’Orsay.

    Orsay Museum Guided Tour Organization

    In terms of content our Orsay tour is designed to give you a solid understanding and overview of the French painting of the 1848-1914 period. Nevertheless this is before all an impressionism guided tour, organized chronologically around the core theme in three parts:

    Before Impressionism

    Starting by the begining with the « Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture » heirs, the « Salon de peinture« , with Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres Neoclassism, Alexandre Cabanel or Jean-Léon Gérôme Academism.

    And then continuing with impressionism precursors as the romantism led by Eugène Delacroix, the Realism of Gustave Courbet, the Barbizon school (Jean-François Millet, etc.), Eugène Boudin, Johan Barthold Jongkind, early Édouard Manet.


    Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissaro, Édgard Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, etc.

    Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

    Georges SeuratPaul Signac, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, etc.

    More About the Orsay Museum Guided Tour content

    Classification is not so simple in arts

    Using a classification (before impressionism, impressionism, post-impressionism) makes things easier, but do not always work:

    Neoclassical Ingres, for instance is also a precursor of modern arts with his naked figures expressive distortions

    Gustave Caillebotte (Impressionists patron, impressionist himself) most famous painting The Floor Scrapers is outstandingly realistic.

    Our Orsay guided tour enlighten these  kinds of questions and try to answer interesting matters as: was Degas or Manet impressionist?

    The key role of an impressionism patron 

    Forward-thinking art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel had a major influence on the Impressionist Art development. He bought hundreds of Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, etc. during his career and established impressionism popularity in the USA.

    Consequently remarkable impressionist collections are now in the USA ; as the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) one in New York with which we will do some parallels during our Orsay Guided Tour.

    The numerous Influences received by impressionist art

    • Industrialization with its technical innovation and its human misery was a great subject of inspiration for the impressionists.
    • Japonism (Influence of Japanese arts), which is noticeable on the works of many artists, as in « Bedroom in Arles » by Van Gogh.

    Social relation between the artists

    Socially, all these painters were linked together, sometimes surprisingly as avant-garde Édouard Manet and academic Ernest Meissonier or Thomas Couture. World of  literacy was also linked with this art revolution via novelist Emile Zola or poet Charles Baudelaire.

    Women and the 19th-century painting

    You will also discover that some iconic painters of the period were women as Rosa Bonheur with her artistic Realism or Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzalès and the American Mary Cassat who actively participated in the impressionist revolution.

    The geography of impressionist and 19th century painting

    The île de France (Paris region) with the Barbizon school ; numerous places impressionist painters were fond of as Argenteuil, Pontoise or Auvers-sur-Oise also famous to be Van Gogh last place of residence where he painted 78 works in 70 days.

    Normandy: region where begun Monet and where is Giverny estate.

    Sud of France with Aix-en-Provence city of Cézanne and Zola, or Arles where Van Gogh looked for Japan’s light and meet Gaugin

    North Africa: Land of inspiration of Orientalism. 

    Understand the evolution in the use of colors

    In the 17th century Royal Academy of  Painting and Sculpture’s members were discussing of the respective importance of drawing and color. In the 19th century the debate toke a new dimension with « The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors » by Chevreul.

    Till Ingres was a drawing defender, Delacroix was aware of these color discoveries later used by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists like in:  

    •  Poppies by Monet: contrast of complementary colors
    • The Circus by Seurat: Divisionism and Pointillism
    • The Talisman by Sérusier: Cloisonism and the triumph of color  
    Photo of an oil Painting by Claude Monet "Coquelicots" to illustrate an Orsay Museum Guided Tour in Paris, France.

    « Coquelicot, la promenade » (Poppies) by Monet was presented like « Impression, soleil levant«  (Impression, Sunrise) at  the first impressionist exhibit in 1874. The canvas brings together impressionist principles: « Peinture de plein air » (outdoor painting), luminous juxtaposition of short brushstrokes of unmixed colors and sketched details.

    Some Masterpieces of Our Orsay Museum Guided Tour

    Olympia by Manet or his no less famous Luncheon on the Grass  (« Déjeuner sur l’herbe« ), as the one by Monet are normally part of the tour. The Orsay Museum owns close to 80 Claude Monet paintings so we will show you more than one with :

    • The Saint-Lazare Station, depicting the modern life.
    • Rouen cathedral series, light study.
    • Blue Water Lilies, on the way to abstract arts. 

    Our Orsay Museum Guided Tour Route will also cross :

    The Card Players by Cézanne, an adapted motif from Le Nain brothers  17th-century genre painting. The Orsay version is the most famous one in a series of five, one of then have been sold around $250 million in 2011.

    The Hanged Man’s House, Auvers-sur Oise, a painting of the 1874 first impressionist exhibit which already shows the importance of volume for Cézanne. An aspect of  his work which inspired Picasso and Braque in the early 20th century in a new art evolution called cubism.

     The Church in Auvers-sur Oise which differs from the impressionist works, as Van Gogh do not give the impression of a church but its expression anticipating fauvism or expressionism

    Photo of the oil painting Starry Night Over the Rhône "la nuit étoilée sur le Rhone" by Vincent Van Gogh, to illustrate an Orsay Museum Guided Tour in Paris, France.

    If the famous Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is visible in the MoMA (New York Museum of Modern Art), the Starry Night Over the Rhône (« Nuit étoilée sur le Rhône« ), is in the Orsay Museum collection. The canvas depicts the reflections of the gas lighting, an expression of 19th-century innovation, across the dark blue water of the river. 

    key Innovations in Art

    The 19th century is a century of inovation, but we will see in our Orsay Guided Tour that two of them drastically impact Art. 

    • The photography which will become an art itself, but before all will take to painting the lead in representing the real.
    • The painting tube which will ease the outdoor painting and authorize a full application of the new color theories. 

    Styles Broached in the Orsay Tour

    • Academism (the art of following rules and conventions)
    • Romanticism (medievalism, imagination and emotion)
    • Orientalism (inspired by Egypt and Algeria expeditions) 
    • Realism (an expression of 19th-century society)
    • Impressionism (our Orsay guided tour central subject!) 
    • Neo-Impressism (pointillism, chromoluminarism, etc.)

    Orsay guided Tour Historical Context

    • Second French Empire (Napoléon III)
    • Franco-Prussian War (July 1870-January 1871) 
    • French Third Republic (Belle Époque)
    • Industrial Revolution
    • European Imperialism

    Know More About Musée d'Orsay

    The Musée d’Orsay is located along the River Seine, in a former train station, a fabulous looking 19th-century building designed by Architect V. Laloux for the « Paris, Exposition universelle de 1900 » in the 1900 typical iron framing to maximize interior spaces and fenestration. Transformed  by architect Gae Aulenty, the building was inaugurated as Musée d’Orsay in 1986.  

    Musée d'Orsay Great View of Paris

    The Orsay Museum eastern big clock (5th floor just before the impressionists gallery) offers a great view of Paris with Le Louvre, Opera Garnier, Sacré-Coeur Basilica and Montmartre,   the place of  the famous canvas « Moulin de la Galette » by Renoir.

    Photo of an inside view of Musée d'Orsay Great Clock to illustrate an Orsay Museum Guided tour, Paris, France.

    The Orsay Museum eastern big clock great view of Paris . The other Orsay clock is right after the impressionist rooms at Café Campana

    Around the Orsay Museum

    The Louvre and the Tuillerie Gardens on the other bank of the Seine River are easily accessible via a walking bridge.

    Le Musée de l’Orangerie, in the Tuillerie Gardens, shows water lily murals by Monet and has a great impressionist gallery.

    Last, if you like the Napoleonic period the Musée de la Légion d’honneur is just in front of the Orsay Museum entrance parvis. 

    Orsay Guided Tour booking INFORMATION 

    Your private licensed guide in Paris

    Orsay-Tour Highlights

    • Really private Orsay tour, for you and your party only.
    • Get an overview of the French painting from 1850 to 1914.
    • Understand the impressionist revolution in art.
    • Go straight to the main masterpieces by Manet, Courbet, Monet, Van Gogh, etc.
    • The opportunity to ask your dedicated professional guide any related questions.

    Orsay-Tour Schedule and Availability

    Availability: Tuesday to Saturday ; Evening Orsay Tour on Thursday. Avoid Tuesday as le Louvre is closed Orsay is more crowded. No tour on Monday & Sunday.

    Meeting Point

    In front of the Orsay Museum by the rhino statue, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 ParisAccess: Métro Line 12 station SolférinoRER C station Musée d’Orsay

    Orsay-Tour Attention Points

      • Prices do not include food, drinks or any other extra services.
      • Tour duration and content are indicative. Visit may vary due to  contingencies.
      • Private tour means a tour for you & your party only, not that Orsay is privatized.
      • Skip-the-line access means access to a privileged entry thanks to skip-the-line tickets, nevertheless a line may exist as security controls remain mandatory.
      • Cloakroom: no privilege, take your disposition to avoid having to queue there.
      • Photos are authorized but without flash.

    Choose below your tour: You will then be  asked : -> choose the number of people, date & hour of visit -> after our validation-> pay on line.

    Choose below your tour

    You will then be  asked : 

    • choose number of people, date & hour of visit
    • after our validation
    • pay on line

    Any questions? Write at

    Photo of a room in which are presented sculptures in the Musée d'Orsay to illustrate an Orsay Museum Guided Tour in Paris, France.

    Orsay Museum Guided Tour by licensed guide lecturer. Sculptures at Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

    Our services in Paris

    Broaden Horizons Paris


    Paris walks in English

    Paris guided tour services

    • Open public  walking tour
    • Private VIP (till 6) tour
    • Large group (till 25) tour
    • Custom-made tour
    • Professionals, corporates, B2B 

    You like art? French fine art museums are not only in Paris! Visit the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts,

    one of the most important outside of Paris ! A must in Orléans the entrance door of the Loire Valley at only +/- one hour by train from Paris!
    We offer very affordable private tours of the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts!

    Logo of FNGIC : French National Federation of Guide Interpreters and Speakers to ilustrate the quality of the Orsay Museum Guided Tour

    Your licensed guide in Paris is the holder of card n° CG 17-45-05, he is a member of FNGIC which is a member of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.