The Musée d’Orsay, located on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris, is a truly unique museum. Built in the late 1800s as a railroad station, the museum impresses its visitors not just for the art collection, but for the building’s architecture alone. The building that served as a train station lost its functionality as trains became larger. For some time, it was a vacant, providing no other use but a parking lot and a free space for recreational use. Today, the museum houses over 2,000 paintings including many impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces that visitors will recognize such as Manet's Olympia and L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet. The two clocks at either end of the building beam with light through the glass faces at night while the large glass windows that run down the sides leave outsiders curious of its inner-workings. The inside is just as beautiful as the exterior, since the space has been re-purposed to exhibit 19th-century French art ranging from paintings, photos and furniture to sculptures. The ceilings are tall and arched with ceiling rosettes decorating the panels that run across the glass. The building itself is a masterpiece well worth visiting during a trip to Pairs.
Viewing Paris through the inside of the clocks can be a fascinating experience for visitors and maybe a bit overwhelming. The over-sized arms and Roman numerals create the feeling of being so minute and yet the perspective of being so high above the city while surrounded by stunning works of art can also be empowering.
After admiring the artwork, the perfect way to end a visit at the museum is at the Restaurant du Musee d’Orsay. This restaurant, one of the most unique one in all of Paris, is situated along the back wall of the other giant clock -so as you enjoy your French wine and olives, you can also appreciate the stunning view of the city through the glass face of the clock. To add to this, the style of the restaurant is modern rustic because of the hammered brass light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Dark brown wood panels create a grid pattern on the ceiling perfectly complimenting the dark wood floors. The room almost feels nautical with the giant clock window, coral-like wire sculptures, and the rectangular side windows. A long walkway aisle down the center of the seating area fully encompasses the ship-like feeling that guests get to experience. It’s easy to forget that you are in an old railroad station when dining at the Restaurant du Musée d’Orsay.
The Musée d’Orsay is a favorite for many visitors to Pairs for its unique architecture and impressionist masterpieces. Although it is much smaller than the Louvre, it has a powerful effect of wonderment on visitors who venture to this former train station.