Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting, Musée du Louvre
Under a late-'80s-built glass pyramid, surrounded by a medieval fortress-turned-palace to the French kings, lies perhaps the world's most famous museum. Of course, somewhere inside it languishes that lady of the mysterious smile ... Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Go smile back at her if you have the stamina to withstand the queue followed by the selfie extravaganza.
The highlight for the Cultural Season, however, is Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting.
The exhibit features only 12 of the 36 paintings that survive by the mysterious Dutchman, interspersed with works by his contemporaries to show that while the subject matter he was tackling was on trend with other great names of the Dutch Golden Age - women sewing, drinking tea or dressing - his was an extraordinary eye and a fine hand.
To Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), it wasn't the details in the carpet that mattered. It was the play of light. His fine attention to the effects of illumination convey an intimacy to every scene and allow mundane moments to transcend to the spiritual. Sadly, his own Mona Lisa, aka Scarlet Johannson with an earring, isn't there. Still, what is is marvellous.
That he remained fairly obscure during his lifetime is as mystifying as that famous lady's smile.
Until May 22. See louvre.fr
Beyond the Stars. The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky, Musée d'Orsay
Gauguin, Monet, Klimt, Munch, Van Gogh, O'Keeffe ... any one of those names is enough to send shivers down the spine of even the most basic gallery goer - and all of these are represented in this fantastic exhibition.
As if anyone needs an excuse, these specific works have been curated to highlight how the artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries depicted landscapes and religious imagery as a means to access the intangible and explore the divine.
Among the 90-odd paintings displayed in seven rooms wait some of the most revered paintings known to man: the dreamy canvases of Monet's Water Lilies (1916-1919); Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888); Georgia O'Keeffe's abstract paintings of cloud formations.
In dimly lit rooms where one can't help but whisper, these hallowed works hang like stained-glass windows on church walls. One cannot but peer into them and then through, to the reflected parts of your own inner life - the melancholy, the wonder - that they inevitably bring to the fore ...
Until June 25. See Musee-orsay.fr