Paris is filled with award winning art. So much of it in fact that most people don't know where to begin. Sure, the Louvre is amazing, but if you have limited to in Paris, you may want to sit in cafes and gardens rather than wandering around museums. Below is a summary of the most popular museums as well as days they are closed and days they stay open late - this is important for itinerary planning. If you want to soak up as much sun and outdoor time as you can, you could plan to visit one of these museums on a late night when the crowds are smaller and the sun is down.
The Louvre: The mother of all museums! This place is hectic, crowded, and humongous. Nevertheless, you can't visit Paris without visiting at least the Mona Lisa. If you have less than 3 days in Paris, I would skip the Louvre, unless seeing the Mona Lisa is important to you. The Louvre was a former palace so it's beautiful and sprawling and will take half a day to visit. Get there early and be sure to use your Paris Museum Pass to skip the line. This is literally the world's most visited museum. There is a cafe here, you will get hungry! If you want to savor your daylight, the Louvre stays open until 9:45 pm on Wednesdays. Avoid the first Saturday of each month when the museum is only open from 6 pm to 9:45 pm and admission is free, it gets very busy. Admission is 17 euros online and 15 euros at the door but the line is so long, be sure to book before hand or use the Paris Museum Pass.
*Note: Closed on Tuesdays
Venus de Milo
Musee D'Orsay: This is a highlight if you are an art lover (or even just an art liker). This museum was a former train station. It's got interesting architecture of it's own and has had several tv shows and movies filmed inside it over the years. It houses hundreds of famous paintings and sculptures from Monet, Manet, and other French Impressionists. You can take 2-3 hours and visit this museum and naturally, it takes the Paris Museum Pass! It has a great little restaurant inside as well. Hours are 9:30 am to 6 pm every day except Mondays. Stays open until 9:45 pm on Thursdays.
*Note: Closed on Mondays
Musée de l'Orangerie: A lovely little museum in the middle of the Tuilerie Gardens. This is a refreshing reprieve from the city. You can get in and out in 30 minutes with the Paris Museum Pass. The focus of this museum is Monet's massive water lilly paintings that engulf the room. It's quite an experience! Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. They have a great website with a chart explaining peak visiting times and low attendance times if you want to avoid the crowds.
Centre Pompidou: This is a modern art museum. If you are not a modern art fan (first of all, keep an open mind), you still may be intrigued with the architecture and innovative exhibits. It houses some of the newest art in the world. The hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., making this a great late night or rainy night activity. They also have an amazing view of Paris at the top of the museum that they charge 5 euros for and is a separate ticket that does not give you admission to the museum, but just takes you straight to the top. They have a free cloakroom, restaurant, snack bar, and book store.
*Note: closed on Tuesday
Rodin Museum: This museum was a delightful surprise. It's small enough to be manageable and the grounds and home are beautiful. Open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, this is worth the stop. Housed in the artist's former estate, the museum has something for everyone - a stately home, famous art, manicured gardens, and lovely outdoor sculptures. There is a cafe onsite and they do accept the Paris Museum Pass. Be sure to check their website for activities.
*Note: closed on Mondays
Picasso National Museum: I have been to Paris three times and have yet to make it to this museum. Somehow it always alludes me. I hear it's also small and manageable and it does accept the Paris Museum pass. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, closed Mondays with no late night openings. During French school holidays like summer, they open at 9:30 a.m. everyday except Monday. The building itself looks quite beautiful and it's in the middle of the historic Marais neighborhood - one of my favorite areas of Paris. Check their website for more info.
*Note: Closed on Mondays