12 things to do on a rainy day in Paris

Paris may be beautiful in the rain but that doesn’t mean you have to get wet. Luckily the city is very well equipped with hideouts and warm shelters for you to wait out any storms. Here are 12 of our favourite ways to make the most of your Paris rainy days.

1. Explore the Panthéon

This has to be one of the most stunning buildings in Europe. If there’s a queue, buy an online ticket for the exact same price and waltz past everyone. It always works. Don’t forget to see the crypt downstairs for tombs of many French greats like Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. Address: Pl. du Panthéon, 75005

2. Taste your way through the ancient covered market

In case you’ve never heard of the marché Beauvau, it is a historic monument that was built in 1843 – with a fascinating ceiling similar to an inverse boat hull. The indoor market goes hand in hand with the outdoor marché d’Aligre, which has been around since the 1770s, and which offers both fruits and vegetables, as well as a flea market. But it’s raining, so stay inside. The market’s lively atmosphere offers an authentic glimpse into Parisian life and culture. Be sure to try a coffee at EarlyBird. Address: Pl. d’Aligre, 75012 Paris

Click here for our insider’s guide to the market.

3. Stroll the covered passages

During the late 19th century, Napoleon III ordered an upgrade for the city, widening the streets, adding parks and making the buildings more uniform. This meant that a large part of old Paris was demolished – but not everything. One artefact that remains is the covered passages, scattered mostly around the 2nd arrondissement. These passages were historically a way for people to avoid the often filthy streets and bad weather while shopping and socializing. And it works perfectly the same way today! Click here to find our favourite of these passages.

4. Go to a museum – maybe the Musée Carnavalet

Ah what’s not to love about the Musée Carnavalet? This museum of Paris history has been closed for years for a mega facelift. It reopened in June 2022 and looks spectacular. Do not miss this the old shop signs in the entry hall. @museecarnvalet Address: 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003

In any case, you don’t necessarily need to flock with all the others to the famous museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Here’s our list of nine more excellent Paris museums that are criminally underrated.

5. Behold the Saint-Sulpice Church

This beauty, which dates back to 1646, is the biggest church in Paris that’s open to visitors (the Notre Dame is still closed for repairs). Saint Sulpice features magnificent Delacroix paintings on the interior walls. Once your done, the Église de Saint Germain des Prés is just around the corner. Address:  2 Rue Palatine, 75006

6. Marvel at the Ateliers des Lumières

Opened in 2018, this immersive museum hosts light shows that feature classical works of art from the likes of Dali, Van Gogh and Cézanne projected on the expansive industrial museum walls. Or, sometimes they go more modern as with the recent TinTin show. You’ve not experienced a museum like this before, and you’ve not seen art in this way before either! Advance online bookings are essential. @ateliersdeslumieres Address: 38 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011.

7. Wait out the rain over a long lunch

Treat yourself to a true Parisian lunch and enjoy a complete menu in a restaurant. You’ll get three courses to help you pass the time waiting for the rain to stop and you’ll quickly realise why the French insist on taking long lunch breaks. Click here for our top restaurant recommendations around Paris.

8. Warm yourself up at a good cafe

People-watching is not strictly a Paris summer activity. Find a cosy cafe, grab a seat near a window, a hot drink and watch the city streets start to shimmer during the rain fall. Here’s our list of best cafes in each arrondissement.

9. Read something inside the National Library of France

This library is freshly reopened to the public after ten years of renovations and the result is exquisite. Explore the glorious interior or grab a chair and a book, and stay for a while. Address: 5 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris

10. Go underground to the Catacombs

Caveat: There is often a queue here, so you will need an umbrella. But then, head underground to see the tunnel network with the bones of six million people. The catacombs definitely aren’t for everyone, especially if you’re extremely claustrophobic. But it’s a pretty awesome part of the city that deserves an exploration. There’s also a deep, dark, illegal-to-enter section if you really want to explore. Here’s what happened when I did itAddress: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris

11. Catch an exhibit at Palais de Tokyo

There are regularly changing exhibits at this museum, and it’s sometimes open to midnight for all you late night culture vultures out there. Address: 13 Av. du Président Wilson, 75116 @palaisdetokyo

12. Grab an umbrella and go for a stroll

Some say that Paris is more beautiful during the rain; the sidewalks begin to shimmer, the bustling sounds of the city drown out in the raindrops and people scurrying inside leave the streets empty. So why not embrace it? Grab your sturdiest umbrella and explore Paris and its dewy reflections all to yourself.

That’s all for now!

For more Paris recommendations and tips check out my PDF guide to Paris, newly updated, and exclusively on sale here. Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of The Earful Tower podcast and want to support the show, you can become a Patreon supporter here and gain access to exclusive content including your own copy of my guide on sign up.

3 thoughts on “12 things to do on a rainy day in Paris

  1. Olivier, one of my favorites is the Petite Palais. Large enough to enjoy, a bit quirky, free of charge, pleasant modern cafe within the Palais and a sheltered courtyard garden view for a breath of fresh air or to check if the rain’s stopped! Cheers to more of your fine work.

    1. Roger & Oliver-I couldn’t agree more. The Petit Palais is always wonderful & the courtyard is the perfect photo opp after lunch there. Thanks!

  2. Another small gem is the free Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, including monumental murals by Raoul Dufy, Gaston Suisse, and Henri Matisse. It is located at 11, Avenue du Président Wilson in the 16th arrondissement of Paris right next door to the Palais de Tokyo.

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