Musee D’Orsay

A visit to the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, has been on my bucket list for a long time. Today I was able to cross it off my list. The museum, located in a former railway station on the banks of the Seine, houses some of the most important paintings and sculptures from the French art movements on the 19th century, including Realism, Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau.

On a sunny Parisian Sunday morning, Marg and I walked along the river to the museum. En route we passed the starting line for a fun run through the city. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of runners were taking part. They couldn’t have wished for better weather.

Marg and I hired audio guides so we could hear the stories behind the works of art and the people who created them. We found ourselves standing just metres away from some of the world’s most famous paintings, such as Monet’s haystacks, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and Renoir’s dance at the Moulin de la Galette. There was not a large crowd in attendance, so often it was possible to be the only person standing before a great work of art, leading to a more intimate viewing experience than would ever be possible attending an exhibition back home in Melbourne.

There were works by many of my favourite artists – Millet, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Gauguin, Rodin and Van Gogh. Vincent’s self-portrait raised the hairs on my arms and neck. It was unbelievably beautiful, and far and away my favourite work from the visit. Unfortunately we could not see his Starry Night as it is currently on loan to an exhibition in London. Marg’s favourite was the painting of the absinthe drinker by Degas.

We spent five hours visiting all of the galleries, viewing the works, listening to the stories and comparing notes about what we liked and what surprised us. We were both in agreement as we left that this had been one of the highlights of our time in France to date.

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