In Paris, a rainy day is nothing unusual, especially in fall or winter. Yes, a rainy day can be a bummer if you have a picnic planned. But honestly, Paris can be lovely in the rain. Take it from me – I lived in Paris for a year, so I know very well what to do in Paris when it rains.
Luckily, a little rain won’t ruin your vacation. If you plan correctly, there are tons of fun things to do on a rainy day in Paris. Honestly, I think the rain just adds to the romantic atmosphere.
A few tips on how to enjoy Paris in the rain:
- Stay inside. Paris has incredible museums, churches, and shopping — there’s no need to wander outside.
- Dress for the weather. Pack rain gear for your trip: a rain jacket, scarf, and rain boots.
- Embrace it. Embrace the weather by moving slower and enjoying the many rainy-weather activities Paris has to offer.
Keeping these tips in mind, here are my suggestions for things to do in Paris in the rain:
1. Explore Paris’ covered passageways
One of the best things to do on a rainy day is to explore the covered passageways, which are covered shopping areas that date back to the 19th century and are filled with bookstores, shops, and restaurants.
Two of my favorites are Passage Jouffroy and Passage des Panoramas. P.S. Did you know you can stay in a covered passageway? Hotel Chopin is a highly-rated hotel located in the middle of Passage Jouffroy. (Read reviews | Book here)
2. Warm up with hot chocolate
To beat the rain, head inside for a mug of super thick French hot chocolate. You can try it at Café Angelique, a fancy café near the Louvre, or Paul, a French bakery chain (it’s actually really good!).
3. Visit Sainte-Chapelle, a tiny and beautiful Gothic chapel
In my opinion, Sainte-Chapelle is Paris’ most under-rated attraction. Once the royal chapel within Paris’ medieval palace, Sainte-Chapelle is one of Paris’ most important churches. Though it may be tiny, it houses more than 1,000 stained glass windows. It’s breathtaking. You can purchase your Sainte-Chapelle tickets here in advance.
4. Visit Shakespeare and Company, the world-famous bookstore
Shakespeare and Company is a famous Parisian bookstore that sells English-language books. Located across from the Notre Dame, it occupies one of Paris’ prime pieces of real estate and is very popular with tourists.
5. Learn how to make macarons
Making macarons is hard (I’ve tried twice and failed!) so it’s probably best to learn from a professional. If you’re not a baker, you can also buy macarons at Ladurée or Pierre Hermé (Pierre Hermé is my preference). But if you book this class you’ll soon be making your own.
6. Have the best French onion soup of your life at Café Saint-Régis
Try authentic French onion soup Café Saint-Régis, a classic French café located on the Île Saint-Louis. It’s the best French onion soup I’ve found in France. And possibly the world?
7. Spend the afternoon in one of Paris’ smaller art museums
On a rainy day, avoid big art museums like the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and Pompidou, as they will probably be crowded. Instead, visit one of Paris’ smaller art museums, which you may have all to yourself. Here are some of my favorites:
- Musée de l’Orangerie: Where you can find Monet’s water lilies
- Musée de Cluny: Specializes in medieval art
- Rodin Museum: Primarily dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin
- Musée Gustave Moreau: Dedicated to Gustave Moreau, a French Symbolist painter. This museum is truly a gem!
8. Have tea at Mariage Frères
Mariage Frères is a French gourmet tea shop that has locations all over Paris. In the main tea room, you can either have brunch or tea. If you want to pick up a souvenir, you can buy loose-leaf tea at the tea counter.
9. Taste French wines at Le Baron Rouge
Le Baron Rouge is my favorite wine bar in Paris. Frequented mostly by old French men, it’s the most unpretentious wine bar around. They have a great selection of French wines; most cost €4 or less per glass.
10. Hang out in a hipster café
Paris has tons of hipster cafés that are perfect for people-watching. Here are some of my favorites:
- Boot Café: An adorable coffee shop in Le Marais housed in a former shoe store.
- Loustic: A quaint, cozy coffee shop in the Marais with gorgeous decor.
- KB Coffee Roasters: Formerly called Kooka Boora, KB is an Aussie-inspired coffee shop in Pigalle.
11. Go shopping at an iconic Parisian department store
Escape the rain in Paris’ most famous department stores: Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette was founded in 1912 and is still selling upscale clothing, lingerie, and other goods. If you visit the Boulevard Haussmann location, you can also visit Printemps, another famous department store down the street.
12. Tour the Conciergerie, the former prison that held Marie Antoinette
The Conciergerie is a former prison that stands in the spot where the Celts erected their first fort in the 1st century. It’s also where Marie Antoinette lived out her last days. You can purchase your Conciergerie tickets here in advance.
13. Head underground to the Catacombs
The Catacombs are the creepiest place to spend a rainy afternoon in Paris. Located deep beneath Paris, the Catacombs are a series of passages and tunnels where more than 6 million Parisians were buried during the 1700s.
The Catacombs are a popular attraction so you may have to wait three or four hours. You can purchase your Catacomb tickets here in advance (which includes an audio guide).
14. Have crêpes at a cozy crêperie
Where better to escape the rain than at a cozy crêperie? My favorite crêperie is Breizh Café, a super chic spot in Le Marais that serves savory and dessert crêpes. Don’t leave without trying their salted butter caramel crêpe – it’s insanely delicious.
15. Have tea at the Grand Mosque’s tea room
One off-the-beaten-path way to spend a rainy afternoon is at the Grand Mosque’s tea room. There, you can drink mint tea and eat baklava while staying warm and dry. The Grand Mosque also houses a hammam spa (Turkish steam baths).
16. Go antique shopping at Saint-Ouen Market
Saint-Ouen is an enormous antique market just outside the northern edge of Paris. It houses a vast amount of paintings, rugs, wine glasses, and more. The majority of it is indoors, so you can visit on a rainy day. There are expensive and cheaper sections, so it’s a fun place to shop no matter your budget.
17. Escape the city
Not interested in any of these ideas of things to do in Paris when it’s raining? You can also leave Paris altogether and take a day trip. Here are some day trips you can take from Paris on a rainy day:
- Palace of Versailles – Book your Versailles tickets in advance here (includes an audio guide)
- Fontainebleau and Château Vaux-le-Vicomte – Book your tickets in advance here (full-day tour)
- Loire Valley Castles – Book your Loire Valley tickets in advance here (full-day tour and includes a wine tasting)
What to wear in Paris when it rains
Paris is a very fashionable city so it’s advisable to dress your best, no matter the weather. Here’s what I recommend packing in case of rain:
What do you think of my list of things to do on a rainy day in Paris? Did I miss anything?