Making out at the Musee D’Orsay

Musée D'Orsay
A few weeks ago, I went to the Musee d’Orsay for the first time. I know, I know; you don’t even have to say it. How in the world have I lived in Paris this long and never visited this fabulous museum?

Well, I have now, so there will be none of that.

The Musee d’Orsay is as wonderful as everyone says. The museum itself is gorgeous, a former railway station originally designed for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. And what it contains! A spectacular collection of impressionist (and post-impressionist) art with all the heavy-hitters: Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse. Just to name a few, of course.

Be warned: Renovations are currently under way and the permanent collection from the (skylit) fifth floor has been moved down to the first two levels of the museum. This being Paris, though, even the renovations manage to be classy.

Practically, this also means that a fair number of the permanent pieces are out on loan. My friend Sarah was heartbroken that her favorite painting was currently at the San Francisco Museum.

But, we found plenty to feast our eyes on, as we meandered our way from one dreamy landscape to the next.

We were taken out of the artistic reverie by one pretty shocking display, however: a couple making out directly in front of the descriptive text introducing the museum’s collection.

I’m not talking a little kissing, either. (This is Paris! There is art! That could be forgiven). No, I’m talking about pushed up against the wall, hard-core, do they need a hotel room pawing. I’m no prude, but I felt so uncomfortable that I just had to leave the room (after picking my jaw up off the ground).

Now I know I’ve been encouraging a more friendly Paris lately; this is not at all what I had in mind, however.

Recovering from the incident and from taking in so much beauty, Sarah and I treated ourselves to lunch in the gorgeous restaurant. What would be become a 3-hour affair.

Now, I wouldn’t normally think to indulge in such a thing. Lunch in a museum would be overpriced, right? Not even. I had a delicious risotto for 16 euros, what you’d pay in a lot of places in Paris, and yet I felt like I was dining in a palace:

Fine dining at the Musee d'Orsay

One thing, though: it seemed we couldn’t order wine by the glass. I guess there are worse fates than being forced to spring for an entire bottle (or half-bottle) of Sancerre. (This might have accounted for why we spent 3 hours talking away – more and more animatedly, I might add).

All in all, well worth a visit. Both the museum and the restaurant. I love visiting museums at night, too. If you do, as well, the Musee d’Orsay has extended hours until 9:45 PM on Thursdays.

At that hour, who knows what frisky couples will be up to, though. Beware!

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22 Responses to “Making out at the Musee D’Orsay”

  1. 1 Geary August 4, 2010 at 6:50 am

    We are enjoying the paintings from the Musée d’Orsay here in San Francisco. They have been curated beautifully and this first collection will be returned to you soon.

    Next collection will be here in September. I have seen the entire collection before, first in the Jeu de Paume long ago, and more recently in the d’Orsay. They are better displayed here, actually. I understand that the renovation at the d’Orsay is to make use of more up to date lighting and display techniques available today so they should be spectacular when reinstalled there.



    • 2 paris (im)perfect August 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Hi Geary. Thanks for the report from San Francisco! I’d love to see how they’re curated, just to compare. Glad you are enjoying the pieces on loan!

      I am excited to see the results of the renovation. You’re right – I’m sure it will be stunning.


  2. 3 Alison August 4, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! (Well except for the overly amorous couple) 🙂 It’s definitely one of my favourite galleries anywhere and I’m a bit of an art gallery junkie.


    • 4 paris (im)perfect August 4, 2010 at 9:41 am

      Yeah, I think it’s cool when people get excited about art – but not *that* excited 🙂

      Really a beautiful museum. And I am actually not an art gallery junkie (she hangs her head in embarrassment). I would even recommend to tourists not totally into doing all the museums if they have limited time to go with the Musee d’Orsay over the Louvre – more warm and approachable. Less intimidating. Of course, I’ve probably just committed blasphemy by saying that.


      • 5 Alison August 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

        Not at all! I say the same thing. I’ve been to the Louvre, basically because it was the thing to do but it definitely isn’t one of my favourites. For Paris galleries it is definitely the d’Orsay, Orangerie, Pompadou and Marmaton… of course I’ve just given myself away as an Impressionist and Modern art girl 🙂


  3. 6 Lindsey August 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Never once considered eating in their restaurant, will definitely have to rethink that next time! The space is stunning!


    • 7 paris (im)perfect August 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

      I know; neither did I! It was totally my friend Sarah’s idea and I’m really glad she suggested it. (One of the benefits of having visitors). I think it makes for a special Paris day. The museum – then doing the whole ladies who lunch thing in that amazing space!


  4. 8 jodie August 4, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Well done!!


  5. 10 Adam August 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Just as well the couple weren’t in the same room as Courbet’s “L’origine du monde”…


  6. 12 paris (im)perfect August 4, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Hi Alison (can’t respond directly after your last comment for some reason). Thanks! I’d say those are my favorites, too. Phew, I’m feeling more cultured now 🙂


  7. 13 Cassady August 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Sounds like a lovely day. Such beautiful rooms and such a stereotypical Parisian experience! I will have to check that museum out next time in Paris.


  8. 15 Kind Reader August 5, 2010 at 3:20 am

    I saw something like this in a hotel lobby in Ottawa, the woman pressed up against the wall and on and on… I was in highschool and there for a conference, fresh off the farm and very green. I was wide-eyed…while I am much more private about this kind of thing, whose says all Canadians are shy and polite and reserved…:)


  9. 17 PigletinFrance August 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t take a photo! Wow, I can’t believe that the musuems staff would let them make out like that, pretty amazing! Maybe they were a live exhibit?


    • 18 paris (im)perfect August 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      Actually, I was trying to get the video to work on my camera 🙂 Just kidding. Yeah, I was a bit surprised the staff didn’t do something, either. Then again, I don’t think any of us wanted to get too close.


  10. 19 pariskarin August 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I’m glad to know I am not the only one — I have been here two years and still have to go to the d’Orsay! I know I am going to like it — all of my favorite people in the world say it is their favorite in Paris, and your great review just confirms that it sounds like an amazing place, including the restaurant, which my best friend recommends to me, too.

    I need to go soon.

    What I am wondering about is that I read photography of any kind, including non-flash photography, has been prohibited since April 2010. Did you find this was the case, too? How did you manage to get the photos you did?

    Also, that’s kind of funny/weird/gross about that couple… Do you think they were tourists or natives? I guess it does not really matter which they were, I was just curious. Also, Adam’s comment cracked me up. 😀

    I’m glad that you finally went. It encourages me to do the same!


    • 20 paris (im)perfect August 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Hey Karin. You’re right – you can’t take photos. That top photo is from Flickr. (Just about any photo that I don’t put a caption under is from Flickr Creative Commons). I did take the one in the restaurant, though.

      As for the couple, I didn’t want to look too closely. But I actually thought they might have been French. You’re right, though – does it matter? 🙂


  11. 21 Delana August 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    My all-time favorite museum in Paris. I’ll be up your way in early September and will go once again. I can’t help myself. And speaking of being up your way…I think it would be fun to meet.


    • 22 paris (im)perfect August 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

      Hey Delana! It would be delightful to meet you while you’re in Paris! Let’s take this off the comments page and email for details. I’m going to Italy in early September, but we’ll see if dates line up for a coffee! Cheers.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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