How to enjoy a rainy day in Paris

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
How to enjoy a rainy day in Paris
The Eiffel Tower is seen through a window on a rainy day in Paris (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

A new year has not ushered in new weather, and much of northern France is still blanketed in cloud and rain. But never fear, here are 12 tips from The Local on how to make the most of Paris, despite the rain.


Paris may not claim the title as France's rainiest city - that belongs to Grenoble near the Alps - but the city still gets a fair amount of rain, between 160 to 180 days per year, on average.

So if you visit Paris, there is always a possibility you will find yourself walking under a rain cloud at some point, particularly if you come during the rainiest months of October, November, and December. 

But there are still plenty of activities and things to enjoy, and some even argue the city is even more beautiful and romantic with a bit of drizzle overhead (which is pushing it, in our opinion, but still). 

Make it a museum day

Your options are practically limitless. According to Paris-based ZigZag magazine, there are over 200 museums and 1,000 art galleries across the city. Of those museums, 18 are national museums and 14 are run by the town hall. When it comes to the latter, permanent exhibits are free to the public - you can find the list here.

You can always go with the classics - the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay. Keep in mind, however, that you will want to arrive in advance and buy online and ahead of time. There may be some crowds, as these are popular rainy day museums. You may be able to escape the crowds by arriving early in the day or later in the evening, or simply by skipping the most popular sites, such as the Mona Lisa. 


If you happen to be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, and it's raining, then you are in luck. Several museums across the city offer free entry, like the Pompidou modern art museum; and you could consider an off-the-beaten track option by checking out the museum of industrial design, the Musée des Arts et Métiers (which also offers free admission on Fridays from 6pm to 9pm).

Stay dry inside historic churches

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica and Notre-Dame are not the only historic churches the city has to offer. Sainte-Chapelle, the gothic style church, is famous for its intricate stained glass windows, which are just as impressive in the rain as they are in the sunshine. You need tickets to enter, so be sure to check if you can buy those online ahead of time as well.

It is located beside the Conciergerie, a former courthouse and prison, which once held figures like Marie-Antoinette, which is another museum you may want to add to your list if you enjoy learning about the French Revolution. 


Otherwise, you have at least 197 historic and modern churches and cathedrals to choose from, which includes the second largest church in the city, Saint-Sulpice,  built in the 17th century and situated on Paris' left bank.

There's also the 'secular cathedral' or the Panthéon. Originally designed as a church, by the time it was finished the Revolution had happened and instead it became the final resting places of those judged to have made a truly outstanding contribution to France.

It is still used for this purpose, with US-born dancer, singer and Resistance member Josephine Baker inducted in 2021.

5 things to know about the Panthéon  

Explore covered passages

This is common rainy day advice, but that does not mean it is wrong. If you do not want to explore Paris' streets in the rain, then head into the covered passages (alleys). Keep in mind that many close at night, so this is best as a daytime activity.

You might start with the well-known Galerie Vivienne, one of the most emblematic covered passages located beside Palais-Royal and built in 1823. The floors are covered in colourful mosaics, which shine under the glass roof. It is right beside Galerie Colbert, another popular alleyway.

If you are travelling with children, consider the less well-known 'passage des princes'. Around Christmas, the alley is filled with toy decorations. 


For a long and historic passage, head to the Passage du Caire, in the 2nd arrondissement, for the oldest one (dating back to 1798).

On the other hand, you could embrace modernity and check out the Passage Jouffroy, located nearby to the Musée Grevin and home to plenty of stores. 

Sit on a terrasse and read a book (or people watch)

There is something magical about sitting outside a Parisian café, book in one hand and coffee (or tea) in the other, while the rain drizzles off the awning above. At night, the street lights come on and you'll see other café patrons switching over from espresso to a glass of wine. 

Admire some fashionable outfits, or dive into your book, watch the world go by, day-dream or even start writing your own novel.


Take a class

Some might see a rainy day on holiday as the perfect opportunity to sleep in, only venturing out for the occasional croissant. But if you like a faster-paced trip, filled to the brim with activity, especially the educational kind, then book a course. 

There are countless wine tasting classes held across the city every day. You'll learn about terroir, grand-crus, and much more. 

READ MORE: How to taste wine like a professional (according to French experts)

If you don't know where to start, try Airbnb. The website puts together plenty of tasting classes, walking tours and activities. The website GetYourGuide is another alternative for booking a course. Sometimes, Tripadvisor will list courses for the day of, or the next day, but this is something you may want to consider planning ahead of time for your holiday. 

When it comes to cooking classes, you can search for on Chefsquare for authentic French courses. Keep in mind that many will be region-specific, so you may find classes on traditional Breton cuisine, or Toulousain cooking (likely to be heavy on the meat). Be sure to check the language of instruction before booking anything.

Make it the 'fancy restaurant' day

If you cannot find any last-minute wine tasting or cooking courses, heading to a nice restaurant is your next best bet - check out the lunch menu, as this can be a more affordable way to try classic, higher-end restaurants. 

Conversely, if you prefer authentic, but not-so expensive food, consider testing out one of the Bouillons. These are the traditional cantine-style restaurants of the working class, that are in high demand these days. This is a great option for those looking to order a starter, main course, dessert and drinks without breaking the bank. 

There are also plenty of wine bars across the city where you can organise your own tasting. You can make it official by bringing along a notebook and writing down your preferences (you'll thank us for this later, when recounting your preferred blends to friends and family once you get home). 

Enjoy an immersive art experience

You may have seen it featured in an Emily in Paris episode, but the Atelier des lumières was popular long before the Netflix show. 


The art centre projects classic pieces onto the walls, while playing music. You need to buy tickets, and you can get them online (for a cheaper price than in-person). This is another great option for families with children, as the experience is quite interactive.

READ MORE: 19 of the best child-friendly days out in and around Paris

Go shopping

You can easily spend an entire day inside any of Paris' large department stores, such as Printemps haussmann, Galeries Lafayette, or Le Bon Marché, as they have plenty of shops to choose from. Keep in mind that prices tend to be higher in these stores, but for those on a budget, the department stores are also plenty of fun for window shopping too.

Otherwise, there are plenty of smaller boutiques in the Marais.

Make it a spa day

You might not think of the Grand Mosque of Paris as being a popular place to sip a cup of tea or book a spa day, but it has a lot to offer. The religious centre is also home to a hammam (a steam room offering massages and exfoliation), though this is exclusively for women.

Otherwise, there are several other spas to choose from, including the Dior Institut at the Hotel Plaza Athénée. While this option is a bit pricey, it is perfect if you are looking to spend some money on a truly luxurious spa treatment.

Go underground

There is an entire secret world below your feet in Paris. Consider starting with the final resting place for over six million Parisians, the Catacombs.

The underground ossuaries are intriguing, maybe a bit disturbing, and generally fascinating. Book your tickets online in advance if you can - it is honestly worth keeping up to date with the local weather forecast - as you can be sure others will have the same idea for beating the bad weather.

See an old film at a vintage cinema

The Latin Quarter is home to a plethora of historic movie theatres, like the Cinéma du Panthéon, the oldest still-in-use movie theatre in Paris.

If you are a fan of film, consider visiting the Cinémathèque Française, which has its own museum and is known for regular screenings of both classic and indie films.

There are also several large cinemas, like UGC and MK2 theatres that are sure to show the latest blockbusters (just be sure to check that the screening is not dubbed into French). 

Whip out your umbrella and stroll

Otherwise, be like the Parisians and brave the rain. Whether it be the winding streets of the Marais, Montmartre or old Latin Quarter, you are sure to stumble upon lovely views and quaint cafés, restaurants and shops.

READ MORE: The ten Paris streets you just have to walk down


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