While not taking photos of the Quay D’Orsay

First of all I have to explain that when I’m talking about the Quay D’Orsay, I’m not referring to the actual Quai or the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs  wich is located on the Quai.

I’m referring to the Museum of the Quay D’Orsay.

In anticipation of the 1900 World’s Fair (l’Exposition Universelle), the French government ceded this land to the Orléans railroad company , who, disadvantaged by the remote location of the Gare d’Austerlitz, planned to build a more central terminus station on the site of the ruined Palais d’Orsay.

It also decided to build next to it a hotel that would be convenient for the visitors of the Fair.

The project was a challenging one due to the vicinity of the Louvre and the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur: the new station needed to be perfectly integrated into its elegant surroundings.

Laloux , the architect chosen to make the buildings,chose to mask the modern metallic structures with the façade of the hotel, which, built in the academic style using finely cut stone from the regions of Charente and Poitou, successfully blended in with its noble neighbors.

Inside, all the modern techniques were used: ramps and lifts for luggage, elevators for passengers, sixteen underground railroad tracks, reception services on the ground floor, and electric traction.

Since then the building went from being a main train station to being abandoned and just used for scenery in movies, until 1961 when the railroad company decided to sell the building just to avoid the costs of demolition.

Consequently, the Minister of Cultural Affairs — Jacques Duhamel — decided that the structure should be conserved.

It benefited from a revival of interest in nineteenth-century architecture, and was listed on the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments on March 8, 1973.

The official decision to build the Musée d’Orsay was taken during the interministerial council of October 20, 1977, under the initiative of then-president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. The building was classified a Historical Monument in 1978, and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction and organization of the museum.

On December 1st, 1986, the new museum was inaugurated by the President of the Republic, François Mitterrand. It opened to the general public on December 9th.

From my personal experience I can say that the Museum itself is a wonder to visit. The building has beautiful spaces and light in the big room where the trains used to be, and the rooms belonging to the hotel, that was also incorporated in the Museum have delicate carved ceilings, magnific painted walls.

On top of that you have  all of the arts from 1848-1914, which include names as Van Gogh,Renoir,Monet, Rodin and beautiful Art Noveau furniture  among other artists and periods.

And with all of this , in every room you have a placard saying you cannot take photos.

Please take my word for it and go visit next time, it is beautiful.

In the previous dinning room of the Hotel there is a restaurant now where you can have a delicious meal while still dreamy with such beauty and there you can actually take a picture of the ceiling.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Here is what I wore to the museum:

Remember, it was July.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lorena
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 10:26:36

    What an interesting story.
    Out of World Fairs come out the most beautiful structures such as the Tower and The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
    I hope I have the opportunity to return to Paris and include this in my to do list…


  2. Kari
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 16:34:50

    I’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay in 2001 on my only trip to France, and loved it. I think if I were to go back to Paris and had just one day to return to a museum, I’d probably even choose the Orsay over the Louvre. However, I forgot just how gorgeous the building is. Thank goodness the building was salvaged and put to such great use!


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