Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by April Verge
Are you trying to figure out the best things to do on a rainy day in Paris? This guide has you covered – keep reading!
Picture this: you wake up in the enchanting city of Paris, only to find the skies grey and the streets shimmering with rain. Ah, the quintessential Parisian rainy day! If you’re like many travelers, this might seem like a wrench in your perfectly planned Parisian adventure. But fear not, as someone who’s called Paris home for over three years, I’ve mastered the art of transforming these damp days into an opportunity for unique and memorable experiences.
As your Paris insider, I’ve embraced these moments, discovering that there’s a special kind of joy in exploring the city under its soft, grey skies.
While the rain might prompt some last-minute changes to your itinerary, it’s a chance to experience Paris’s lesser-known gems, away from the typical tourist trails. Think cozy bookshops, hidden art galleries, and unique indoor markets. As someone who’s navigated these impromptu adjustments, I’m here to guide you through the best of Paris indoors, ensuring your experience remains unforgettable, rain or shine.
If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of a rainy day in Paris:
How often does it rain in Paris?
Paris experiences rainfall on approximately 111 days each year, accumulating an average annual precipitation of 637 mm (25 inches). The city’s climate is characterized by moderate and fairly consistent rainfall throughout the year. However, the rain in Paris is usually light to moderate, and heavy downpours are relatively infrequent. This gentle rainfall contributes to the city’s lush gardens and the picturesque ambiance that many associate with Parisian weather.
What is the rainiest month in Paris?
The rainiest month in Paris is generally May, characterized by the highest average precipitation levels. During this month, the city often experiences frequent showers, which can range from light drizzles to heavier downpours. Following May, December also records significant rainfall, reflecting Paris’s mild and wet winter climate. Despite these wetter periods, the rain in Paris typically falls in short bursts rather than prolonged periods.
Although there isn’t much heavy snowfall in Paris, it does occasionally fall there on a few days each year, usually in February or March. It would be quite uncommon to get more than two or three days of snow at any one time during these periods because the snow seldom adheres.
Best Rainy Day in Paris Activities
Historical Havens: Museums and Galleries
The Louvre museum, housing thousands of works from around the globe, is an obvious start. From the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa to the grandeur of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Louvre’s collection is a testament to human creativity through the ages. Rain or shine, this museum is a must-visit.
Not far away, the Musée d’Orsay beckons with its impressive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. Housed in a former railway station, this museum presents works by artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir in an awe-inspiring setting.
The Centre Pompidou, with its high-tech architecture, is a haven for lovers of modern and contemporary art. Its unique exterior is as fascinating as the myriad of artworks housed within, making it a perfect rainy day retreat.
Cultural Escapes: Theaters and Music Halls
The Opéra Garnier, a masterpiece of 19th-century architecture, is famed for its opulent design. We’ll delve into the history of its construction, commissioned as part of Napoleon III’s Paris renovation project and designed by the young architect Charles Garnier. A highlight of any visit is the Grand Foyer, reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, and the Main Auditorium, with its magnificent chandelier and Marc Chagall-painted ceiling.
The Philharmonie de Paris, located in the Parc de la Villette, is a modern architectural marvel. Its innovative design by Jean Nouvel is both visually striking and acoustically superior. The venue is home to a variety of musical performances, ranging from classical symphonies to contemporary concerts. We’ll explore the diverse program schedule, offering something for every musical taste.
Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Museums
The Musée de l’Orangerie is renowned for housing Claude Monet’s breathtaking “Water Lilies” series. These large-scale paintings, specifically designed for the two oval rooms they inhabit, offer a panoramic and immersive view of Monet’s beloved garden in Giverny. Beyond the Water Lilies, the museum boasts an impressive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art, featuring works by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir, among others.
Nestled in the 7th arrondissement, the Musée Rodin is housed in the Hôtel Biron, where Auguste Rodin once worked. The museum displays Rodin’s famous sculptures, including “The Thinker” and “The Kiss,” in both its extensive gardens and indoor galleries. The museum’s garden is a work of art itself, featuring a carefully curated selection of Rodin’s sculptures set among beautiful landscaping. Even on a rainy day, the view of the sculptures against the backdrop of the lush garden and the historic building is breathtaking.
The Musée Nissim de Camondo, located near Parc Monceau, is a beautifully preserved mansion offering a glimpse into the life of a wealthy Parisian family in the early 20th century. The museum houses a remarkable collection of French decorative arts from the 18th century, including furniture, tapestries, and porcelain, meticulously arranged as it would have been when the Camondo family lived there.
Literary Paris: Bookstores and Libraries
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), the national library of France, is an architectural marvel. Its François-Mitterrand site features four imposing glass towers designed to resemble open books. Housing millions of books, manuscripts, prints, and documents, the BNF is a treasure trove for researchers and literature enthusiasts alike. The library’s exhibitions often showcase rare items, offering a glimpse into France’s rich literary and historical heritage.
Shakespeare and Company, overlooking Notre Dame on the Left Bank on the Seine river, is more than a bookstore; it’s a literary landmark steeped in history. Founded in 1951 by George Whitman, it was a meeting place for famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, and Allen Ginsberg. The bookstore is renowned for its quaint, labyrinthine layout, filled with nooks and crannies where readers can delve into a book. It’s not uncommon to find aspiring writers typing away in some corner, contributing to the shop’s creative ambiance.
In the heart of Montmartre, Librairie des Abbesses is a charming neighborhood bookstore. It’s known for its warm, welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff who are always ready to offer recommendations.
Gourmet Getaways: Culinary Experiences
In Paris, numerous cooking schools offer classes led by professional chefs. These classes range from beginner to advanced levels, allowing participants to learn the secrets of French cooking in a hands-on environment. Classes cover a variety of dishes and techniques, from baking the perfect croissant to preparing a classic Coq au Vin. Participants not only learn how to cook these dishes but also gain insights into the history and tradition behind them.
Paris offers a plethora of wine tasting experiences, catering to all levels of wine enthusiasts. From cozy wine bars to professional tasting workshops, these sessions are guided by sommeliers or wine experts. Participants get to taste a selection of wines from various regions of France, learning about the characteristics of each terroir, grape varieties, and winemaking processes. This is an excellent way for wine lovers to travel across France without leaving Paris. Many wine tasting sessions also include pairing with French cheeses or charcuterie, enhancing the experience and providing insights into the art of pairing food and wine.
Shopping Spree: Parisian Markets and Arcades
Les Halles, once known as “the belly of Paris” due to its historical role as the central fresh food market, has transformed into a contemporary shopping haven. The Forum des Halles is a modern shopping center located at this historic site, offering a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Galeries Lafayette, located on Boulevard Haussmann, is more than a shopping destination; it’s a Parisian institution. The store is known for its stunning Art Nouveau architecture, including a remarkable stained-glass dome. The store also features a gourmet food section and a rooftop terrace that offers spectacular views of the city, making it a perfect place to relax after a day of shopping.
The Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, on the outskirts of Paris, is recognized as one of the largest antique flea markets in the world. It’s a sprawling maze of individual markets, each with its own character and specialty. From vintage clothing and classic French furniture to rare collectibles and retro decor, the market offers an eclectic array of items. It’s a paradise for collectors and bargain hunters alike.
The covered passages of Paris, dating back to the 19th century, are hidden gems offering an atmospheric shopping experience. These glass-roofed arcades are filled with antique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes. Among the most famous are Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy, known for their beautifully preserved architecture and diverse range of shops. These passages not only offer unique shopping opportunities but also a journey into the romantic past of Parisian commerce.
Child-Friendly Activities: Keeping the Little Ones Entertained
The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, located in the Parc de la Villette, is Europe’s largest science museum and a paradise for curious minds. It offers a range of interactive exhibits that cover a wide array of topics from the human body to outer space.
Nestled at the foot of the iconic Trocadéro, the Aquarium de Paris offers a captivating glimpse into marine life. It’s home to over 10,000 marine animals, including sharks, rays, and colorful fish.
France Travel Planning 🇫🇷
For any trip to be successful, preparation is key. Do it the easy way:
- Booking.com – Find diverse accommodations, enjoy easy booking with great deals, and rely on real reviews and 24/7 support.
- Expedia.com – With its user-friendly interface, it simplifies the process of booking hotels and holiday packages to France.
- VRBO.com – Your go-to platform for unique and comfortable vacation rentals in France.
- DiscoverCars.com – Offers a seamless booking experience, ensuring you find the ideal car for your adventures in France.
- GetTransfer.com – Is the ultimate solution for your travel transfer needs, offering an efficient, flexible service and comfortable transportation.
- Trainline.com stands as a quintessential tool for savvy travelers seeking to navigate France’s extensive rail network with ease and confidence.
- Skyscanner.com – Simplifies your travel planning with its user-friendly interface, offering a comprehensive comparison of flights.
Attractions, Activities and Tours 🇫🇷
- Viator.com – Stands out as a trusted resource for travelers seeking unparalleled experiences across the globe.
- GetYourGuide.com – Offers an extensive collection of tours, activities, and attractions in France.
- ParisCityVision.com – This tour company specializes in crafting exceptional experiences across Paris and France.
- Orange Sim Card – Discover seamless connectivity on your French travels with an Orange Holiday Europe Sim Card, a top choice for tourists.
- Airalo.com – The world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving travelers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards).
Travel Insurance ✈️
- SafetyWing.com – Travel with peace of mind knowing you’re protected in almost every corner of the world.
- Travel Insurance Master – Visit their website to discover the ideal insurance plan that aligns with your travel dreams.
These are only a few of my favorites; for more, see my comprehensive guide to the top travel booking websites for France.