Last Updated on 16th August 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
Watch a vintage film
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).