The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay: these two museums frequently top must-do lists for anyone heading to Paris. But, if you want to balance gallery-hopping with shopping on the Champs-Élysées and sipping wine by the banks of the Seine, you might not have time for both. So, which one should you choose? Read on to decide.

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument

If you want to get the “big picture”

For a taste of everything from Ancient Greek sculpture to Renaissance painting, head straight to the Louvre. Here, you can see over 35,000 artworks and historical objects exhibited in a space of over 652,000 square feet. A day spent wandering the many galleries of the Louvre is a fascinating education in the history of Western art.

The Musée d’Orsay holds primarily French art dating from 1848 to 1914

If you’re on a tight schedule (OR If you want to take your time)

Compared to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay has a compact selection of 2,000 paintings and 600 sculptures. So, if you’re in the mood to stroll rather than dash from one artwork to the next, the Musée d’Orsay is your best bet.

The Mona Lisa is housed in her very own room in the Denon Wing of the Louvre

If you’re all about iconic women

It’s fitting that Beyonce chose the Louvre as the location for her latest video — this place is all about iconic women! And while you might not catch sight of Bey on your visit, you will have the chance to see an iconic trio: the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, two famous Ancient Greek sculptures, and, of course, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The room in the Denon Wing where the Mona Lisa hangs can grow very crowded. Our tip: visit her first thing in the morning or just before the museum closes to make sure you’re not seeing her through someone else’s phone screen.

The Musée d’Orsay is the perfect pick for fans of Manet, Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas

If you can’t get enough of the Impressionists

If you love the Impressionists — and let’s be honest, who doesn’t — then you’ll love the Musée d’Orsay. Their collection is basically the greatest hits of this much-loved movement. If you figure you’ve seen the Mona Lisa enough times on tea towels, postcards, and fridge magnets, take yourself to the d’Orsay. Here, you can get up close and personal with stunning works like Manet’s “Olympia,” Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait,” Monet’s “Poppies,” Degas’s “The Ballet Class,” and many more.

The Louvre houses artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome

If you’re into history

The Louvre is filled with paintings and sculptures, but it’s also a history buff’s dream. The Sully Wing holds treasures from the pyramids of Egypt and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome, while the Richelieu Wing has an impressive collection of Medieval scrolls, tapestries, and more.

Once a castle, the Louvre is a must for lovers of architecture

If you love architecture

The Louvre began its life as a castle in the 13th century. While it’s older than the Musée d’Orsay, the d’Orsay is best for architecture fans — its collection is actually housed in a converted 19th-century train station. You can still see many of the station’s well-preserved original features, like the intricate ironwork ceiling and the ornate station clock.

If “do it for the gram” is part of your vocabulary, the Louvre is your best bet

If you want a killer Instagram shot

Have you even been to Paris if you haven’t snapped a picture of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the grounds of the Louvre? This chic structure gave the entrances to the Louvre a modern update in 1989. Now, it’s a landmark in its own right: catch it on a sunny day, or at night when it’s all lit up, and don’t forget to take an envy-inducing shot for your Instagram.

Sampling a macaron (or three) is non-negotiable

If you’re a foodie

The Musée d’Orsay houses a cafe and restaurant, but the Louvre boasts over a dozen dining options. One of these is the unmissable Cafe Richelieu, which offers gourmet fine-dining right by Napoleon’s apartments. Another is the ultra-chic Cafe Marly where you can sip cafe au lait and partake in some of Paris’ best macarons.

For the best panorama shots, head to the roof of the Musée d’Orsay

If you want one of the best views of Paris

For one of Paris’s best-kept secrets, head to the top floor of the Musée d’Orsay. From here, you’ll have a stunning view of the Seine, the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Place de la Concorde — as well as the Louvre and its famous glass pyramid.

Kids will love a pared-down tour of the Musée d’Orsay

If you’re traveling with kids

Even for adults, a full day at any museum can be exhausting. Luckily, both the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay have child-friendly options. Win-win, right? If the Louvre is more your speed, opt for this private tour designed especially for little ones. And if you’d rather spend some time at the Musée d’Orsay, this child-friendly tour with special games and activities is just the ticket (literally).

Comments

comments