Cool things to do in Paris when it rains
By Mathilde Vuillemenot | Last update on September 13, 2023
Paris is famous for its beauty and sunshine, but rain can also add its own special touch. Rainy days here in Paris usually don't last all day. Sometimes, it's just about planning around the rain until the sun shows up. Instead of feeling down about the rain, why not enjoy it? Whether it's a quick rain shower or a whole rainy day, I've got some ideas for you.
From exploring culture to tasty treats, shopping fun, picture-perfect moments, or simply relaxing, I've got a list of things to do that will make your time in Paris awesome – even when it's wet outside. So, let's explore the best things to do in Paris when it rains!
Exploring Art and History indoors
Paris boasts an array of world-class museums that will transport you through time and culture… while keeping you dry! Whether you're a history buff or an art enthusiast, these museums have something for everyone. Certainly, the iconic Louvre and Orsay museums are great rainy day activities in Paris. Yet, discover lesser-known gems too!
Immerse yourself in the majestic Invalides Museum, where the captivating saga of the French military materializes before you. From the resting place of Napoleon to the chronicles of military history spanning Louis XIV through the Napoleonic era, and even the compelling World Wars exhibitions – there's a wealth of discovery awaiting you. Wander through its corridors, and don't miss the opportunity to capture some truly unique photos within the covered galleries, featuring an exceptional historical artillery collection.
And I've got more museum ideas for all you museum enthusiasts when the rain just won't quit in Paris! Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing digital art exhibitions at Atelier des Lumières, or journey into the depths of the city's past at the Catacombs. You can also marvel at the stunning architecture of Garnier Opera, where you can take guided tours to learn about the history and secrets of this grand establishment. Or, you can take a delightful detour to the Carnavalet Museum. Here, you'll embark on an journey through Paris' history, spanning from Prehistoric times right up to the present day. This captivating collection will guide you through pivotal moments like the French Revolution and the bustling 19th century with Impressionist paintings. Actually, Carnavalet museum is among my top 3 of interesting small museums in Paris. Really not to miss… and particularly suitable on a rainy day in Paris!
Relax and unwind
Rainy days are nature's call for relaxation. Embrace it by indulging in some self-care. Treat yourself to a soothing massage! I realize it might sound surprising, but I once treated myself to a massage during a trip, and it turned out to be an amazing rainy day activity. In New Zealand, I encountered some rather unfavorable weather conditions that led to the closure of all outdoor activities. The owner of my Airbnb happened to be a skilled massage therapist, and she kindly extended an offer for a massage. Traveling can be quite exhausting, and a rejuvenating massage serves as a much-needed pause to revitalize both body and mind! In Paris, several French cosmetics brands have a spa: Clarins, Caudalie, Nuxe...
If you'd rather be a spectator of the rain, grab a table at a quaint Parisian cafe for people watching. Check out cafés in spots like rue de Bretagne, Place du Chatelet, Place Cambronne, Place Saint Germain des Prés, or Place Le Corbusier, for instance.
And for book lovers, the best place is the Richelieu Library. Lose yourself in a world of literature! The spectacular Oval Room is a reading room with free and open access. Let the sound of rain provide the perfect ambiance as you escape into the pages of a captivating story or jot down your own thoughts in a Parisian notebook. FYI umbrellas must be checked at the cloakrooms.
Rainy days in Paris are a great time to enjoy (even more) delicious food. You can explore French cooking by signing up for a class that teaches you how to make tasty macarons or flaky croissants. Alternatively, embark on a gastronomic adventure aboard a bus tour that takes you to some of the city's landmarks. You’ll enjoy French cuisine and wines in a comfortable and refined atmosphere.
Make your meal special by having lunch at Kong restaurant under its glass roof. You'll hear the raindrops while you eat. Or, check out the covered market Saint Germain and enjoy some fancy food. Last but not least idea, make your afternoon even fancier by having tea time at the elegant Ritz or Meurice palace, with irresistible cakes and desserts created by the best French chefs. Ritz afternoon tea is one of the truly unique things to do in Paris!
I’m a foodie, so for me, definitely, enjoying French food (especially pastries) is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Paris.
Rain might dampen the streets, but it can't extinguish your creative spark. Use the rain as an opportunity for a delightful and whimsical photoshoot. You just need one accessory: a lovely umbrella! Head to Buren's Columns in Palais Royal for a playful backdrop that will make your photos pop. Or seek refuge in the quiet covered gallery of Vero Dodat, where the charming architecture and natural light create a picturesque setting.
To help you stay dry and have fun with photos, here are more ideas: visit the covered galleries at the Louvre Court (you don't need a ticket), take pictures on Bir Hakeim bridge, or check out cool metro stations like Arts et Métiers, Louvre Rivoli, Tuileries, or Cité.
Shopping fun like locals
Who says shopping can only be enjoyed on sunny days? Rainy weather provides the perfect excuse to indulge in some shopping session. Step into the enchanting Galerie Vivienne, where you can stroll amidst stunning mosaics and explore boutique shops offering unique treasures. Do not miss the cute and tiny boutique of Binet Papillon, an independent French perfume house creating luxury niche fragrances. Louvreuse, a Parisian leather goods brand, has a showroom in the gallery. You can even request to personalize any item with a hot stamping device, in just a few minutes. A perfect stop for a unique souvenir or custom gift!
Need more shopping addresses? Check my e-book with my selection of the 15 best addresses for boutique shopping. 15 cute little shops with the best selection of French brands, quality items and a unique shopping experience. They’re all located close to Paris’ main attractions, so you can easily drop by.
Oh and last but not least, you can head to the famous department store: Le Bon Marché. Get excited as you check out lots of new styles and trends in fashion and decoration. It's a favorite among stylish Parisians.
Had you imagined so many things to do in Paris on a rainy day?! Now you know the answers to the question: what to do in Paris when it rains. I hope you enjoyed my selection, and I’ll leave you with one last recommendation: embrace the weather, Paris will captivate you, rain or shine!
You can check my other blog posts, on my page Paris travel tips: I share tips on accommodation, museums, shopping... Everything for a unique and wonderful trip!