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Exploring the Best Impressionist Museums in Paris

Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by April Nicole

Looking to visit impressionist museums in Paris? Check out these incredible Parisian museums below!

Some of the most well-known paintings and artwork from this movement in the whole world may be found at the best museums in Paris.

It wasn’t always popular to see the delicate, figurative brushstrokes, dynamic sense of movement, and captivating play of light and shadow that have come to be associated with the artistic style known as Impressionism. When it made its premiere at a late nineteenth-century Parisian salon exhibiting artists who defied convention, it was, in fact, regarded as unconventional and even disturbing.

Impressionist Museums in Paris
Le dejeuner sur l’herbe, Edouard Manet, 1862-1863, Musée d’Orsay

With their daring and distinctly anti-realist new visions, innovators such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne (whose sublime “The Gulf of Marseilles from L’Estaque” is pictured above), Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Gustave Caillebotte upended the art establishment. However, it would take years before the average exhibition-goer would embrace their iconoclastic styles.

Some of the best collections of their art in the world are currently found in Paris. Make time to explore these five outstanding collections if you have an interest in art history or just adore the Impressionist style. Continue reading on for further details.

Let’s get to it!

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If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of the best impressionist museums in Paris:

Introduction to Impressionist Museums in Paris

In the late 19th century, a group of artists known as the Impressionists challenged the traditional rules of painting. They believed that art should be about capturing a moment in time, rather than creating a carefully planned and polished work. The Impressionists were interested in using light and color to create their effects, rather than relying on the meticulous brushwork of the old masters.

The movement began in France, with artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. They were soon joined by other painters from around Europe, including Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne. The Impressionists held their first exhibition in 1874, and although it was not well received by the public or the critics, it did mark the beginning of a new era in art.

Over the next few decades, the Impressionists continued to push the boundaries of art, experimenting with new techniques and subjects. They proved that art could be about capturing a feeling or an emotion, and that it didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Today, the works of the Impressionists are some of the most popular and well-loved paintings in the world.

Who Are the Most Famous Impressionist Painters?

Claude Monet

There are few artists as renowned as Claude Monet. A pivotal figure in the development of Impressionism, Monet’s work was characterized by its capture of light and tranquil landscapes. Though his work was initially met with skepticism by the art establishment, Monet’s talent was undeniable, and his paintings now feast in some of the most famous art museums in the world.

Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro is one of the most famous Impressionist painters. His work is known for its delicate lightness and muted colors. In the 1870s, Pissarro began to experiment with Impressionism. He was particularly drawn to the work of Claude Monet.

Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet was one of the most influential Impressionist painters of the 19th century. His work helped to redefine the role of painting in modern society and he is considered one of the fathers of Impressionism. He used light and color to capture the fleeting moments of modern life. His style was rejected by the Salon but he found success with a group of like-minded artists.

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was one of the most important French Impressionist painters. Degas is best known for his paintings of ballet dancers and women in baths. He also did many prints and drawings. Degas became friends with several other Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential Impressionist painters of the nineteenth century. In 1862, Renoir decided to take up a new teaching position at the Louvre. It was here that he met several other young painters who would go on to become important figures in the Impressionist movement, including Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley.

Alfred Sisley

Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent of the Impressionists, never deviating into figure painting or still-lifes; upholding the “pure” landscape traditions of Pierre-Henri Valenciennes and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

The Best Impressionist Museums in Paris

Petit Palais

The magnificent museum known as the Petit Palais, or Académie des Beaux-Arts, is home to amazing works of art from the first century BC to the twentieth century.

Exploring the Best Impressionist Museums in Paris, Petit Palais
Paul Cézanne. “Ambroise Vollard”, 1899. Petit Palais.

Constructed in 1900 for the Universal Exposition (World Fair), it was subsequently transformed into a museum and welcomed visitors in 1902. Not only does this extraordinary edifice house numerous impressionist masterpieces, but its architecture and murals are equally impressive. The Petit Palais is adorned with elaborate embellishments on its external walls, such as elaborate window frames, stone carvings, and exquisite sculptures, including busts of well-known Greek mythological characters.

Inside the museum, visitors can take in the vivid colors employed by impressionist painters like Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley, or they can wonder at the magnificent ornamental paintings on the ceiling that depict historical themes. One of the many amazing small museums in Paris, the museum is well worth a visit because of its extensive collection of artwork, sculptures, and relics!

Practical Info
Address: Avenue Winston-Churchill 75008 Paris
Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am – 6:00pm (closed Mondays)
Tickets: Free access to permanent collection | Price varies for exhibition access | Find more info on the official museum site.

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay, which used to be a train station, now houses one of the largest collections of impressionist paintings.

Given that the Musée d’Orsay’s permanent collection is a treasure trove of Impressionist and Expressionist works, it is not unexpected that the renowned museum owns an astounding amount of significant Monet artworks. Visit the largest collection, but make sure to dedicate a significant amount of time to perusing the many works created by the famed master of light and color.

Exploring the Best Impressionist Museums in Paris, Musée d'Orsay
Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876

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These include the enchanting winter landscape “The Magpie” (1869), the deeply moving “Camille Monet sur son lit de mort” (1879) (Camille Monet on Her Deathbed), the above-mentioned “Coquelicots” (Poppies, painted in 1873), the London Parliament (1900), and the grief-stricken “Nymphéas Bleus” (1919) (Blue Water Lilies).

In addition to these dynamic, lively portraits of Rue Montorgueil on a colorful parade day and trains entering the Gare Saint-Lazare, the collection at the Orsay also features images of everyday industry and Parisian life. Monet’s skill is in capturing the industrial setting and the trains’ puffs of steam.

Practical Info
Address: Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde (côté Seine), 75001 Paris
Metro: RER Orsay; or get off at Metro Saint-Michel or Saint-Germain-des-Prés and walk to the museum entrance
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 49 48 14
Hours: Open Wednesday to Monday from 9:00 am-6:00pm (closed Tuesdays)
Musee d’Orsay Tickets: €12.50 full rate | Reservation recommended | Purchase tickets and find more info on the official museum site or book a guided tour of the collections.

Musée de l’Orangerie

One of the most popular impressionist museums in Paris is the Musée de L’Orangerie, which is well-known for housing Claude Monet’s well-known water lily collection.

The museum, which is close to the Tuileries Garden in the heart of Paris, was first given a contract by Napoleon III in 1852 to serve as an indoor garden where orange trees would be kept during the winter. The museum was formally established in 1927, and it is now well-known for its eight enormous impressionist water lily paintings by Claude Monet.

Two oval rooms at the museum’s center hold these masterpieces, which were created especially for them.

This is a must-see impressionism museum in Paris if you are a fan of Claude Monet. The paintings come to life as they take you to Monet’s Giverny garden on a perfect summer’s day. The sensation of really seeing these artworks in person is unmatched by any photograph.

The world’s best impressionist paintings by Renoir and Manet, as well as a wide range of sculptures and paintings by European painters including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, can be seen at the Musée de L’Orangerie.

Practical Info
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Metro: Concorde or Tuileries
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 50 43 00
Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am – 6:00pm (closed Mondays)
Tickets: €16 full rate (online) | €14 full rate (at museum) | Reservations strongly recommended | Purchase tickets and find more info on the official museum site

Musée Marmottan-Monet

Tucked away in a peaceful area of western Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet is home to the world’s greatest collection of Monet paintings. It also features a sizable collection of paintings and other works by other Impressionists, such as Berthe Morisot, Paul Gaugin, and Alfred Sisley.

Camille Pissarro – Les boulevards extérieurs, effet de neige, 1879

A large-scale installation showcasing one of the artist’s “Nymphéas” (Waterlilies) and the famous “Impression, Sunrise,” which was purchased in 1940, are among the masterpieces that embellish the permanent collection.

By donating numerous more well-known and lesser-known pieces by his father, such as “The Train in the Snow,” “Taking a Walk in Argenteuil,” “The Houses of Parliament London,” “Reflections on the Thames,” and many more, Claude Monet’s son significantly increased the collection.

The final versions of two of Monet’s late masterpieces, “The Japanese Bridge” and “The House Seen From the Rose Garden,” which are breathtaking works completed at Giverny (see below for more on visiting the artist’s house and gardens), are the only ones held in the collection of the Marmottan-Monet, which also regularly stages temporary exhibitions that highlight different aspects of the artist’s work (and of other related artists, periods and movements).

Practical Info
Address: 2, Rue Louis-Boilly, 75016 Paris
Metro: La Muette or Ranelagh (Line 9)
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 96 50 33
Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am – 6:00pm (closed Mondays)
Tickets: 14€ full rate | Reservation recommended | Purchase tickets and find more info on the official museum site.

Musée de Montmartre

Impressionist art history is the focus of the Musée de Montmartre, a museum located in Paris. Founded in 1960, the museum can be found right in the center of Montmartre.

Parce Domine, Adolphe Willette, 1884

The Bel Air House, now a museum, is the oldest structure in Montmartre, having been constructed in the 17th century. This home was home to several impressionist painters, most notably Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who is the most well-known of them. During your visit, you can explore the museum’s exquisite gardens, which are devoted to Renoir and where he liked to paint outside frequently.

The lithographs, paintings, and photos in the museum’s permanent holdings feature numerous artists who were highly influential in the heyday of the Montmartre art movement. This is a must-visit location if you want to learn about the history of impressionism in Paris, even though the museum itself may not be as large as some of the others in the city.

Practical Info:
Address: 12, Rue Cortot 75018 PARIS
Hours: Open everyday from 10:00am – 7:00pm
Tickets: €15 full rate | Purchase tickets and find more info on the official museum website.

Fondation Monet in Giverny

Last but not least, for the devoted Monet aficionados among you, a day trip from Paris to Claude Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny is unquestionably in order. It doesn’t contain a sizable collection of the former resident’s artwork, but it does provide a poignant look into the lush water features and landscapes that inspired (and provided backgrounds for) some of Monet’s most well-known paintings.

These include idyllic portraits of the green-shuttered house surrounded by vibrant flowers, as well as graceful Japanese bridges that meander across the water lily ponds brimming with reeds and wildflowers at the borders.

The best time to visit is in the middle of spring or early summer, when there are plenty of flowers and other plants in bloom, such as tulips, glycines, Japanese cherry trees, dahlias, and irises. Take a stroll through the gardens on a sunny, bright day.

However, even a visit in the fall can provide some quite breathtaking views of the bridges, ponds, towering weeping willows, and paths that wind through the garden and lead to the home.

In the interim, explore the house’s interiors. Monet resided there from 1883 until his passing in 1926. By entering, you can get a fascinating insight into the artist’s personal and household life. Some areas, like the “Blue Room,” which has a lot of Japanese woodblocks, are especially clear examples of his interest in Japanese art and design.

With GetYourGuide, you can conveniently reserve a half-day excursion (which includes a shuttle) from Paris to Giverny. And for an entirely customized experience, think about scheduling a private tour (via Viator) of Giverny with an art historian, which includes transportation from Paris.

Practical Info
Address: 84 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny, France
Hours: Open every day from April 1st to November 1st 2024 from 9:30am to 6:00pm, last admission 5:30 pm.
Tickets: €11 full rate | Reservation recommended | Find more info on the official museum site.

What Are the Most Famous Museums in Paris?

The Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris are both world-renowned museums that house some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. The Musée d’Orsay is particularly known for its collection of works by Claude Monet, while the Musée de l’Orangerie is home to a series of water lily paintings by Monet, as well as notable works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Henri Matisse.

Impressionist Museums in Paris Map

The top impressionist museum in Paris are shown on this map. A list of all the museums will appear if you choose the arrow-pointing icon on the left. Once you’ve chosen which one to visit, more information about the address will appear.

Final thoughts on Impressionist Museums in Paris

Paris is undeniably a city that has played a significant role in the development and appreciation of impressionist art. The various museums dedicated to this artistic movement offer visitors an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Monet, Renoir, Degas, and their contemporaries.

From the iconic Musée d’Orsay to the charming Musée de l’Orangerie, these institutions provide an intimate glimpse into the revolutionary techniques and themes that defined Impressionism. Please visit these museums for an immersive experience with Impressionist art don’t forget to also check out these amazing fashion museums and unusual museums!

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