Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 13: Musee D’Orsay To Musee Rodin

Stroll 13 The Thinker at Musee Rodin

Quick Description: Famous art museums and a scenic, interesting route between them, including a posh church and its park.  

Where: Left Bank, west of Rue du Bac and east of the Hotel des Invalides. 

Start at sidewalk triangle created by the intersection of Blvd Saint Germain and Rue Saint Dominique, outside Metro station Solferino (#12 line), a couple of blocks away from Musee D’Orsay.  End at Blvd des Invalides, outside Metro station Varenne (#13 line), a half block away from Musee Rodin.    

Duration: 15-20 min walk between the museums; total with all venues @4-5.5 hrs (eg: Musee D’Orsay @1.5–2 hrs, Musee Rodin @1-2 hrs, two other venues @30 min each).  Early Departure Option after Musee D’Orsay, before heading to Musee Rodin. 

Best Days: Wed – Sun (Not Mon).

Best Time to Start: 9am – 11am 

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Connects: by foot to Stroll #14 (Invalides and Gros Caillou), and by quick Metro rides to Stroll 15 (Concorde-Tuileries-Vendome), or Stroll 16 (Concorde-Madeleine-Expiatoire), or Stroll 17 (Concorde to Place de l’Alma), or Stroll 23 (Batignolles), or Stroll 30 (Montparnasse), or the standalone site Musee Jacquemart-Andre.  

Past and Present: Until the 1700s, this was an area of farms and small hamlets outside the city, administered by the Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres.  But, after King Louis XIV moved the royal court to Versailles, in 1682, Paris’s development shifted here, with aristocrats building estates featuring mansions (“hotels particulier”) and gardens surrounded by walls.  One such estate was the Hotel Biron.  In the late 1800s, it became the home of Auguste Rodin, the great sculptor.  He bequeathed the property to France upon his death in 1917.   Since 1919 it has housed Musee Rodin, displaying his works, as well as those of his lover and muse, Camille Claudell.  In the same area of town, the Exposition Universelle 1900, an extravagant world’s fair, led to a different kind of construction – grand civic buildings mixing the  Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau styles.  One was the Gare D’Orsay railroad station along the river.  It served as the arrival point for fairgoers entering Paris.  By the 1930s, however, the station was obsolete and being used for other purposes, including as a movie studio.  In the 1980s, the building was slated to be demolished.  Instead it was saved and made into Musee d’Orsay, for artworks in the collection of the Musee du Louvre that were created after 1850.  Today, that includes the world’s foremost collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.  Across the plaza from the front of Musee D’Orsay is the free Musee de la Legion D’honneur, for France’s honorific medals.  In addition, the short stroll from Musee D’Orsay to  Musee Rodin includes a posh church and its park, attractive 18th century streets, and some good dining options. 

Attractions (in order):  

  • Musee D’Orsay: #1 Rue de la Legion d’Honneur (Rue de Lille at Rue de Bellechasse). This impressive Beaux Arts building that formerly was a railway station houses a museum dedicated to art created after 1850.  The holdings include  the world’s premier collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.  Tues-Sun 9:30am-6pm (Thurs till 9:45), €16 (under 18 free, under 26 EU residents free).  There is usually a significant line to enter.  Tickets can be reserved in advance.  The museum offers three dining options – a formal restaurant, a brasserie and a sandwich/snack bar.  (The restaurant is described in “Dining Suggestions.”)
  •  Musee de la Legion d’Honneur: #2 Rue de la Legion d’Honneur (Rue de Lille at Rue de Bellechasse).  Museum displaying and explaining  France’s medals for political and military valor, as well as related exhibits, including costumes, paintings and arms.  The building is a reconstruction of the Salm Palace.  Wed-Sun 1pm-6pm, free.
  • Place Jacques Blainville: Between Blvd Saint Germain and Rue Saint Dominique.  Park-like walkway with trees and a modern sculpture.
  • Basilica Sainte Clotilde: #23B Rue las Cases.  Elegant 19th century church, declared a minor basilica, with twin spires and interesting stained glass.  Mon-Fri 9am-7:30pm, Sat-Sun 10-8, free.
  • Square Samuel Rousseau: Park fronting Basilica Sainte Clotilde.  Named for the church’s former music master, it features statues, benches, a playground and public toilets. Mon-Fri 9:30am-5:45pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5:45pm, free.
  • Chapelle de Jesus Enfant: Church in the 19th century English Gothic Revival style, part of the parish of Sainte Clotilde.  Irregular hours and uses.  Check for access.   
  • Rue de Bourgogne: Approaching Musee Rodin.  Elegant 18th century street, with dining options. 
  • Musee Rodin: #77 Rue de Varenne.  Museum that presents the major works of Auguste Rodin, known as the father of modern sculpture, in his former home / studio and its large garden.  There is also a section devoted to artworks by Rodin’s lover and muse Camille Claudell.  Tues-Sun 10am-5:45pm, €10 (various discounted tickets).  (The museum’s garden cafe is described in “Dining Suggestions.”)

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Le Vin de Bellechasse: #20 Rue de Bellechasse.  French cuisine.  Traditional room, outdoor seating.  Daily Noon-3:30pm, 7-11:30pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€17. 
  • Cuppa – Salon de Café: #86 Rue de l’Universite.  Coffee shop with gluten-free, vegan food selection.  Small, cute, casual room.  Tues-Fri 9am-5:30pm, Sat 10am-5:30pm, closed in August.  Moderate prices.  
  • Restaurant du Musee D’Orsay: Inside the museum.  French cuisine.  Elegant Belle Epoque room. Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 9:30am-6pm, Thurs 9:30am-2:45pm, 7-9pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€29.  (The museum also offers a brasserie and a sandwich/snack shop.)
  • Aux Ducs de Bourgogne: #30 Rue de Bourgogne.  Creperie, plus salads, cider.  Country style room.  Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm, 7-10pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€16. 
  • Auguste: #54 Rue de Bourgogne.  Fancy French cuisine.  Modern room.  Mon-Fri Noon-2pm, 7:30-10:30pm.  Lunch prix fixe @€37.
  • Cafe du Musee Rodin: In the museum’s rear garden.  Cafeteria offering quiches, salads, sandwiches, fruit, desserts, various beverages including wine and beer.  Casual indoor and outdoor seating.  Tues-Sun 10am-5pm.  Average cost @€11-20.

Ready to stroll?
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Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
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