The Orangerie (or l’Orangerie) in Paris is the home of a large circle of paintings by Claude Monet. In the words of the museum, “It was designed as a real environment and crowns the Water Lilies cycle begun nearly thirty years before. The set is one of the largest monumental achievements of early twentieth century painting.” The art was a gift to the French State on the day after the Armistice of World War I in November, 1918, symbolizing peace. The museum built specifically to house these paintings opened in 1927, just a few months after Monet’s death. Monet himself described this crowning achievement of his work on Water Lilies as giving an “illusion of an endless whole, of a wave with no horizon and no shore.”
The long view of these water lilies gives the impression that you are seeing lots of blue and purple hues. When you move in just a few inches from the paintings, you notice all the bright greens and yellows that contribute to the art.
While the main attraction of the Orangerie is the Monet Water Lilies, an exhibition hall in the museum hosts the art of other artists as well. When we visited, I was thrilled to find my favorite Renoir painting, “Girls at the Piano.”
To reach the Orangerie, take the metro to the Concorde station. Before or after your visit, wander through the adjacent garden, the Tuileries. The Louvre is at the far end of the Tuilieres. Relax with a coffee or cold drink on one of the green chairs and enjoy the center of Paris.
On the other side of the Concorde Metro is the Place de la Concorde. This was once the Place de la Revolution and is the site of historical events such as the beheading of Marie Antoinette and many others. Wanting to erase that grisly part of the past, Paris renamed this the place of “peace.” Egypt gifted the giant obelisk to Paris in 1833. It took Parisians about three years to figure out how to unload the obelisk and stand it up in this circle. At least, that’s the story our guide told us. It is obviously very heavy. And the fountains help make this a place of beauty, with the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
NOTE Spring 2020: While the museum is closed right now, you can visit the video page of the website to get a sampling of what the gallery looks like.
The Orangerie is open every day except Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last entrance at 5:15 p.m. Adult entrance is 9 Euro; under 18 free. Check the official website for information on exhibitions, programs, and the cafe.
Want to explore more of Monet’s life and art? Treat yourself with a visit to Monet’s home at Giverny, just outside Paris. The gardens here were his inspiration.