Musée de l’Orangerie: The House of Monet’s Lilies
If I had a say in the numerous names of Paris, I would call it the city of art. Other countries also have fantastic artists that have their names printed in the history forever but Paris somehow manages to own the best artworks in the world. I’m not talking about the Louvre (it goes without saying), but there are dozens of museums and galleries in Paris that can offer works that will make your jaw drop. Nowadays a lot of tourists visiting from New Zealand and China love to look at the diverse paintings and sculptures. Staying in a beautiful Paris hotel for a few nights will give you the chance to sink your teeth in to this artful culture.
One of those museums is Musée de l’Orangerie, the name of which might not be very familiar to you but it’s a respectable and significant house of art. It’s small in size, but don’t underestimate the contents. The museum is located in Jardin des Tuileries. It’s very close to the Louvre, so you can combine those two sites and have the full day dedicated to art.
The name of the museum is closely connected to its history. The building was initially meant for orange trees and the replacement of the Louvre’s orangery. The trees grew outside in summer and were moved inside during cold weather. Later on, the museum had to become a part of Musée de Luxembourg, but Claude Monet insisted on the museum to be an independent one. This is why Monet’s masterpiece occupies so much space and attention.
The museum has a permanent collection but there is a big number of temporary exhibitions taking place in the museum every year. You can check for the dates on their website and even see the program.
One of the most remarkable pieces in possession of this museum is, of course, one of Monet’s most famous works, i.e. Les Nymphéas. This picture is special not only to the French art history, but also the whole world. The main idea expressed through the picture is peace. Ironically, Monet worked on this picture during World War I. This is one of the reasons why this picture is beloved by many. The panic, fear and the military atmosphere, which was present in almost all the world is captured by this work.
If you have seen the movie “Midnight in Paris,” (directed by Woody Allen, I strongly recommend this, if you haven’t watched it yet), you will remember the museum and Les Nymphéas, which, in fact, consists of 8 different Water Lilies. Generally, watch the movie before even going to Paris. It might change your perception and expectations of this city (in a good way, of course).
And it’s no surprise why Monet, who was a follower of impressionism, worked on it for four years. Two huge rooms are meant for these lilies. So, in a way, some people go to this museum just to see Monet’s lilies.
Very interestingly, this is not one of the most famous museums of Paris. For instance, you won’t say “I’m going to Paris to see Musée de l’Orangerie,” will you? But it happens so, that this building contains the perfections of art history. Some of the represented artists are Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many other world-famous names.
The museum was closed for 6 years, starting in 2000 and was reopened in 2006. Major restorations took place during this period, and the museum got even better.
Remember, it’s closed on Tuesdays. The rest of the week it’s open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The minimum time you might need is half an hour, this is why tickets are not sold after 5:30. Try to avoid this situation. Take your time (at least 2 hours) to go around the museum and study the artworks.
The tickets cost 7.50 € for adults. If you are a student, then you can pay only 5.50 €. People under 18 years of age get free admission. If you don’t understand French, there are guided tours in English. They last about 1 and a half hours and are available only on specific days and hours.
Here’s an advice. Guided tours are a little obliging, you have to keep the pace, you have to stay silent when the guide speaks, you have to listen to the questions everyone asks. Isn’t it better to do a short research on the Internet, and then enjoy the collection by yourself? There are chairs in the front of almost every picture. You can sit and stare at each one for an hour. This is how you should go through the museum, and this is how you can really enjoy it.
And that’s one of advantages of the museum. There are no long queues. You don’t have to wait for hours to get a glance of Mona Lisa. When you sit in front of a painting, you don’t get annoyed by passers by. In a word, it’s the best place to go deep into art and appreciate every piece.
Another advantage of this museum, which personally for me is very important, is the distance between the picture and yourself. Musée de l’Orangerie provides maximum closure. There are no thick glasses in front of the pictures (which is completely horrible, especially when the light falls on the glass and you see other people’s faces instead of the picture).
This is not a second-class museum that can be missed if you don’t have much time. Try to carve as much time as you can. Musée de l’Orangerie is a signature place in Paris. If you want to know Paris, then this museum is an absolute must.