Best Monet Museums in Paris: Where to Find the Impressionist Master

A section from Monet's "Nymphéas" at the Orangerie, one of the best Monet-themed museums in Paris.
A section from Monet’s “Nymphéas” at the Orangerie, one of the best Monet-themed museums in Paris.

The French capital is one of the best cities in the world to take in the mesmerizing work of Impressionist master Claude Monet. From modern art collections that feature an unusually large number of the artist’s masterpieces, to smaller institutions that are almost wholly dedicated to spotlighting his life and work, there’s an abundance of choices if you’re hoping to get to take a deep dive into the topic. Keep reading for the best “Monet museums” in Paris, including a day trip to the nearby town where the master lived and worked for over 40 years– and whose lush landscapes became his most familiar subject.

1. Musée Marmottan-Monet

Image: Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

Nestled in a quiet corner of western Paris, this intimate museum holds the largest single global collection of works from Monet, and also boasts an impressive number of paintings and other works from fellow Impressionists including Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, Paul Gaugin and many others.

Masterpieces that grace the permanent collection include the iconic “Impression, Sunrise” (acquired in 1940) and a large-scale installation showing one version of the artist’s “Nymphéas” (Waterlilies). Monet’s son Claude helped to greatly expand the collection with donations of other well-known and lesser-known works from his father, including “The Train in the Snow”, “Taking a Walk in Argenteuil”, “The Houses of Parliament London”, “Reflections on the Thames”, and many others.

{Book skip-the-line tickets for the Musée Marmottan Monet (via Tiqets)}

Claude Monet, "Impression, Sunrise", oil on canvas, 1872. Public domain
Claude Monet, “Impression, Sunrise”, oil on canvas, 1872. Public domain

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

Getting There & Practical Info

“The Japanese Bridge” by Claude Monet, 1918, Musée Marmottan Monet/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

The Musée Marmottan Monet (see our full guide here) is located in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, at the corner of the neighborhood known as Passy in western Paris and not far from the sprawling Bois de Boulogne park.

  • Address: 2 rue Louis Boilly, 16th arrondissement
  • Metro: La Muette or Ranelagh (Line 9)
  • Tel: +33 (0)1 44 96 50 33
  • Visit the official website (including information on temporary exhibits, current ticket prices, opening hours and special events)

2. Musée d’Orsay

Claude Monet, “Coquelicots” (Poppies) (1873), Musée d’Orsay, Paris/Public domain

It’s unsurprising that the world-renowned Musée d’Orsay holds such an impressive number of important works from Monet, given that its permanent collection is a treasury of Impressionist and Expressionist masterpieces. Come to see the wider collection, but make sure to spend a good amount of time homing in on the museum’s numerous oeuvres from the master of light and color himself.

These include “Coquelicots” (Poppies, shown above and painted in 1873); “The Magpie” (an enchanting winter landscape completed in 1869); “Nymphéas Bleus” (Blue Waterlilies, 1919); “The London Parliament” (1900); and the deeply moving “Camille Monet sur son lit de mort” (Camille Monet on Her Deathbed, 1879)– a grief-laden portrait of the artist’s wife, who died at only 32.

Claude Monet, "Camille Monet sur son lit de mort", 1879. /Musée d'Orsay/Public domain
Claude Monet, “Camille Monet sur son lit de mort”, 1879. /Musée d’Orsay/Public domain

The collection at the Orsay also includes portraits of daily Parisian life and industry that are full of movement and dynamism, including a portrait of Rue Montorgueil on a colorful parade day, and of trains coming into the Gare Saint-Lazare— Monet somehow manages to draw out a strange, ethereal beauty from the industrial scene and puffs of steam emitted by the trains.

Getting There & Practical Info

Claude Monet, “Gare Saint-Lazare”, 1877/Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Public domain)

The Musée d’Orsay is located on the left bank of the Seine in the 6th arrondissement (district), just across the river from the Musée du Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries.

3. The Orangerie

Monet's Nympheas series: a tribute to world peace at the Orangerie in Paris. Image credit: Adrian Scottow/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons licens

This small Parisian museum is home to one of Monet’s most monumental– and important works:

The permanent collection houses Les Nymphéas (Water Lillies) a series of eight enormous panels that completely fill the permanent collection’s two curved exhibition spaces. Walking around them, it’s easy to get lost in their dreamlike, light-filled, watery and slightly surreal landscapes.

The history of this particular “Nymphéas” series is a poignant one, too: Monet donated it to the French stay just a day after the end of World War I in 1918, calling it a hope for world peace.

{Book skip-the-line tickets for the Orangerie online (via Tiqets.com}

This is simply one of the loveliest places in the city to catch your breath, sit or quietly walk around the room for a stretch, and meditate on one of the artist’s truly breathtaking achievements. And the separate collection of modern art at the adjoining Walter & Guillaume collection is well worth seeing, too, with masterpieces from the likes of Modigliani, Renoir, Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso and Soutine.

Getting There & Practical Info

The Orangerie is located on the right bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement, at the west end of the Tuileries garden and opposite the bustling Place de la Concorde. Note that it’s also in close reach of the Musée d’Orsay right across the river, so you can easily follow a visit to one with the other.

4. Monet’s House and Gardens at Giverny

Monet's gardens at Giverny: one of the 5 best day trips from Paris by train.

Last but certainly not least, a day trip to Claude Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny is certainly in order for the dedicated Monet enthusiasts among you. While it doesn’t hold a significant collection of artworks from the former inhabitant, it offers a moving glimpse into the lush landscapes and water features that inspired (and served as settings for) some of Monet’s most beloved paintings, from the graceful Japanese bridges that amble across the waterlily ponds teeming with reeds and wildflowers at the borders, to idyllic portraits of the green-shuttered house, surrounded by colorful blossoms.

Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge, 1899/Princeton University Art Museum/Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

A stroll through the gardens on a sunny, bright day in mid to late spring to mid-summer is the best time to visit, since the greatest number of flowers and other plants are in bloom during that time–from tulips and glycines to flowering Japanese cherry trees, dahlias and irises. But even a fall visit can offer some truly stunning perspectives of the ponds, bridges, soaring weeping willows, and pathways meandering through the garden and leading to the house.

{Related: 10 Best Day Trips from Paris by Train}

Meanwhile, visit the interiors of the house, where Monet lived from 1883 to his death in 1926. Stepping inside allows you to gain a fascinating perspective on the artist’s inner and domestic life. His interest in Japanese art and design is particularly evident in certain rooms, including the “Blue Room” with its numerous Japanese woodblocks.

The house harbored a studio where the artist conceived and completed many of his most famous paintings, as well as separate bedrooms where Monet and his wife retired. Most of the colorfully painted and decorated rooms have distinctive themes, from the pantry to the dining room.

Finally, head to the nearby Musée de Vernon (in the same town where Giverny is located) to see still more noteworthy paintings from the master, including “The Cliffs of Pourville at Sunset” (1896) and yet another mesmerizing installment from the “Nymphéas” series, circa 1908.

Getting There & Practical Info

Le Jardin de l’Artiste à Giverny (The Artist’s House in Giverny), 1900, Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

The Claude Monet Foundation is located in the town of Giverny, easily accessible from Paris by taking a local train from the Gare Saint-Lazare station (see more here at the official website).

Alternatively, you can book a half-day trip (including shuttle) from Paris to Giverny (via GetYourGuide).

Editor’s Note: This post contains a few affiliate links. If you book a ticket or tour through these it comes at no additional cost to you, but does help to fund more free, in-depth features here at Paris Unlocked. Thank you.

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