The Musée du Petit Palais (or "Little Palace") in Paris is like a mini-Louvre—only it's free of charge and devoid of crowds

Reopened in December 2005 following a multi-year restoration, the "Little Palace" is a bombastic building left over from the 1900 Universal Exposition.

It is now the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris (the Fine Arts Museum of the City of Paris), and is stuffed with what would be the greatest museum in Paris that mixed painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and ancient statuary...if only the Louvre weren't just down the street.

The great thing about playing second fiddle to a major sight is: no crowds. Also, they're so unnecessarily modest about their status they don't even feel they have the right to charge admission. That's right: it's free.

While the Petit Palais is pretty weak on the early Renaissance, it really picks up steam when it gets to the 17th century, especially when it comes to those Flemish Old Masters—Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Rubens.

By the 19th century, names like Corot, Courbet, Delacroix, Géricault, Ingres, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, and Renoir are added to the roles.

With the reopening, there is now also a fine roster of temporary exhibits (those usually cost, though).