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How to Spend a Rainy Day in Paris (and still have fun!)

If you’re visiting Paris at any time of the year, even in the summer months and especially during wintertime, then chances are that it will rain at some point or another! The good news is that there’s a wealth of indoor activities and things to do worth enjoying even during less than perfect weather. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to spend a rainy day in Paris and still have fun!

Passage des Panoramas 9th arrondissement: How to visit the Oldest Covered Passage in Paris, one of the best rainy day activities in the City of Light, France

How often does it rain in Paris?

Contrary to what you may think, it actually rains a fair bit in Paris! In fact, Paris receives a larger overall yearly rainfall than London, England! With this being said, I must add that the rain tends to be heavier in Paris and a lighter drizzle in London, meaning that London experiences more stretches of time with rain than its French cousin.

It rarely rains during the summer in Paris, there’s lots of rain in the winter, and there are spring and fall showers during the European shoulder seasons in the French capital. Unless you’re visiting Paris during the summer, I highly recommend packing at least a light rain jacket. I recently bought a trench coat (very in style in Paris) from this brand and love it!

What is the rainiest month in Paris?

December is the rainiest month in Paris and so if you’re planning a trip to the city during the winter, you should be sure to pack an umbrella and wrap up warm. If I’m travelling to a place where I know that there will be lots of rain, I’ll make sure to pack two pairs of shoes in case one gets too wet. Heavy snowfall is fairly rare but snow in Paris can happen and tends to be in February or March for several days a year.

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Rainy day in Paris activities

Looking outside your Paris hotel window and watching the rain pouring down over the Haussmannian architecture of the city? Don’t be tempted to head back to bed and pull the covers over your head! After all, you’re in Paris and the city is perhaps even more beautiful in the rain- something you’ll soon discover when you step outside! Even in bad weather, there are still plenty of incredible things to do in Paris in the rain…

Discover the hidden and secret arcades of Paris

Throughout the city, though predominantly dotted around the 9th and 10th arrondissements, there are a plethora of secret passageways, just waiting to be discovered. The covered arcades of Paris once numbered over a hundred and fifty, though just a couple of dozen survive to this day.

Constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries to house shops and boutiques which would still be easy to visit during rainy days, the Passages of Paris were the precursor to modern shopping malls as we know them today.

Free to wander along and filled with hidden gems such as vintage shops and small eateries, some of my favourite picks include Passage des Panoramas and Passage du Grand Cerf. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of eateries, including bars, bistros, cafés, and pizzerias.

Passage Jouffroy: A Historic Arcade in the 9th Arrondissement of Paris, France. Where to buy old canes, vintage toys and rare books in the French capital

Step inside the best of Paris’ Churches

Free to visit, wander around, and admire: if you thought that there are no churches to visit in Paris since the fire at Notre Dame, then you’d be wrong! Paris is home to hundreds of chapels, Basilicas, and churches, many of which have stood the test of time and have been in situ for centuries.

For example, did you know that you can visit the relics of the Patron Saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve? Or that there’s a wooden painted church in the 19th arrondissement of the city. All of this and more are to be discovered if you simply get to know some of the most unusual churches in Paris.

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Visit a museum during the rain in Paris

Though Paris may well be a living, breathing, and ever-changing museum, many visitors are surprised to discover that the city is home to well over a hundred and fifty cultural spaces! Even if you’re ‘not a museum person,’ there will surely be something that catches your eye.

From the world-famous Louvre Museum (home to the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace) to the smaller and off-the-beaten-path Musée d’Orsay. And when it comes to experiencing museum culture in Paris during a rainy day in the city, some lesser-known hidden gems include Musée de la Vie Romantique at the base of Montmartre and the Musée des Arts Forains (Fairground museum) in the Bercy area.

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The Atelier des Lumières

Even if you’re ‘not a museum person,’ there’s one incredible experience in Paris that’s more interactive and is fun for all the family. The cultural immersion takes works by famous artists (the exhibition I attended in 2019 comprised of works by Van Gogh) and presents them in an immersive light show with music and sounds. Discover more about the Atelier des Lumières here.

Hang out in a Parisian café to escape the rain

Coffee in Paris is a favourite pastime of many a local resident, and will soon become yours too if you spend long enough exploring the City of Light. On every street corner, you’ll soon discover a plethora of typically French cafés which are just as charming inside as their exteriors suggest.

Some of my favourite picks for authentically French coffee shops include Le Consulat in Montmartre and Café de Flore in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood of the city. And for those searching out fantastic coffee, some of the best cafés for speciality coffee include the Broken Arm in Le Marais and Fragments in the 3rd arrondissement of the city.

The Broken Arm Coffee Shop in Le Marais, Paris, France

Learn how to make and bake macarons!

Yes, you read that correctly! If you’re truly stuck for ideas when it comes to a rainy day in Paris, then you might want to consider forgetting about the weather and tucking into France’s favourite cookie! Though there’s a big debate as to who really sells the best macarons in Paris, book this class and you’ll soon be baking a batch of your own!

My Macaron Address Book: Where to find the Best Macarons in Paris

Hide from the rain and peruse some of Paris’ best bookstores instead

Of course, thanks to its status as a world-famous literary city, Paris has no shortage of beautiful bookshops worth exploring. Some of the very best are to be found in the Latin Quarter of the city, an area so-called thanks to the fact that students of the nearby Sorbonne University would have conversed with one another in Latin.

Today, the Latin Quarter is still predominantly a student district and is home to several University Campuses. This area of Paris is also where many of the remains of Roman Paris are concentrated, including the old Roman arena and the former Roman baths. And when it comes to bookshops, my favourites are the Abbey Bookshop (29 Rue de la Parcheminerie) and Shakespeare and Co. (37 Rue de la Bûcherie).

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: entryway

Watch a vintage film at the cinema

Looking for more things to do in Paris in the rain? Don’t leave the Latin Quarter yet! After all, it’s here where you’ll find a fantastic selection of vintage cinemas offering screenings of unique movies and foreign films.

Several cinemas can be found along rue Champollion, which is just steps away from Place de la Sorbonne. Afterwards, head to the square to warm up with a chocolat chaud at one of the many cafés to be found here.

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Take a Seine River Cruise

It may well surprise you, but you can still take a River Seine Cruise, even when it’s raining in Paris! Though you might see less than if the weather were clearer, you’ll still be able to spy the towering Tour Eiffel, the clock of Musée d’Orsay and the magnificent Louvre.

And it may also surprise you to learn that a Seine River Cruise doesn’t have to break the bank. For example, I love that less expensive cruises like this one are available for those on a budget, while romantic dinner cruises like this one will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

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Enjoy Paris via Citroën 2CV

One of the activities that is best suited to sunny weather though can still be enjoyed during the rain is to explore Paris in a Citroën 2CV. These classic and vintage French cars were in production between 1948-1990. Today, these classic cars are the perfect way to experience Paris from a new perspective and even have clear covers for rainy days in Paris.

Fontaine des Innocents & Cimetière des Innocents in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France

Leave Paris for the day!

If you really wish to see France without the rain, then you can always leave the city for the day. Thanks to its status as the capital city of l’Hexagone, Paris is well-positioned and has easy transport links to the rest of France and beyond. Public transport is generally pretty reliable and affordable, meaning day trips from Paris couldn’t be easier.

For example, though you could always head to the Palace of Versailles or the medieval city of Provins, if the weather is bad in those destinations, then you could always go further afield. After all, from Paris, it’s possible to take day trips to Paris, Brussels, and even Antwerp!

These Versailles photos prove that the palace, gardens, Petit Trianon, and Grand Trianon are totally worth the trip from Paris, France! palace

Visit the Paris Catacombs

Deep beneath the streets of Paris there’s a secret maze of passages and tunnels that snake for miles on end. Though many of the Paris Catacombs are closed to the public for safety reasons, one of the best things to do in Paris in the rain is to head to the 14th arrondissement where you can head underground and visit the Paris catacombs for yourself. Purchase your Catacomb tickets here in advance (which includes an audio guide and an audio guide).

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Discover the Paris Opéra

Even if you’re not a fan of attending a performance at the Opéra, Paris’ most famous opera house, Palais Garnier, is well worth a wander around. Alleged to be the setting of the Phantom of the Opera, the building was constructed in the latter half of the 19th-century at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III.

Today, you can visit on a self-guided tour which will take you several hours and give you a chance to explore the magnificent interior of the building. If you want to see the fabulous architecture with the fewest amount of people, be sure to go earlier in the day and mid-week if possible. Alternatively, if you want to get an in-depth knowledge of the opera house, you can book a guided tour with an expert. Purchase your guided tour Palais Garnier entrance tickets here in advance.

Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Terrace: one of the best panoramic views of Paris, France

Go wine and cheese tasting

Of course, France is known around the world for its amazing wines, and while the Île de France region where Paris is based is not necessarily known for its wine production, it’s easy enough to discover wines from the rest of l’Hexagone while staying in the centre. What’s better is if you can get a wine tasting paired with a cheese one! Book a wine and cheese tasting like this one to get to taste some French wine with guided information by an expert.

wine tasting glass house restaurant life aboard the ventura p and o cruises

Go shopping in luxury department stores

Paris has five department stores. BHV in Le Marais, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in the 8th arrondissement, the Art Nouveau La Samaritaine in the 1st arrondissement, and Le Bon Marché (the oldest of all the department stores) in the 7th arrondissement.

All are set over floor upon floor and sell everything from women’s clothing to cute souvenirs from your time in Paris. If you’re looking for a little shopping experience during a rainy day in Paris, then be sure to head to one of the many department stores which Paris has to offer.

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Go shopping at Beaugrenelle

If you’re wondering what to do in Paris when it rains, then we have you covered. One of the more modern additions to the 15th arrondissement of Paris is that of the Beaugrenelle shopping centre (nearest metro lines 10 Javel, 10 Charles Michel and 6 Bir Hakeim), which in turn is one of the largest shopping malls in inner city Paris. In total, the shopping centre boasts around 120 shops, eateries, and restaurants that are all in indoor cover.

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Rain in Paris activities/ How to Spend a Rainy Day in Paris (and still have fun!)
How to spend a rainy day in Paris and still have fun! Looking for the best things to do in Paris in the rain? This is your ultimate guide for indoor attractions in the French capital city of France

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