7 Perfect Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in Paris

Perhaps Paris’ best-kept secret is that it shares London’s infamous drizzly weather. 

Cole Porter wasn’t kidding when he referenced “Paris when it drizzles.” But what he missed was the fact that it rains in Paris—not just in winter, but all year round. Most rain in Paris falls in May and June, but rainfall in the city is actually fairly evenly distributed over an average of 111 days every year. 

But don’t let Paris’ frequent showers and dreary, overcast days put you off! As a city that has always been rainy, Paris offers more than a handful of activities to do during its frequent showers. Here are some of our favorites.

Tips for making the most of a rainy day in Paris.

1. Visit a museum

Paris is home to around 130 museums, so there’s something for everyone! Of course the most famous include the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Rodin museum, but there are also many smaller museums well worth a visit. 

Consider spending some time at the Marmottan in the 16th, home to one of the largest Impressionist collections in the world (and some 100 paintings by Claude Monet). Or spend some time at the Picasso Museum in the Marais, devoted to Pablo Picasso’s work and his private collections of other contemporary painters’ work.

The Picasso museum is a great place to visit on a rainy day in Paris.
The Picasso Museum is housed in the historic Hôtel Salé in the Marais.

2. Do some shopping

Paris is home to world-class shopping, and with an umbrella, it’s easy to duck in and out of shops. While the famous Champs-Elysées is known for its luxury goods, head to the streets around Saint-Germain like rue du Four to support their smaller boutiques. Consider journeying through the Marais for some fantastic vintage shops, too.

3. See a film

Paris has long been a capital of cinema, and there are more than a handful of movie houses to visit on a dreary day. Consider the Filmothèque du Quartier Latin, which regularly screens retrospectives of key films in French and American cinema. Also try the Musée du Cinéma, which doesn’t limit itself to screening films; it also has one of the largest archives of film memorabilia in the world.

4. People-watch at a café

People-watching may well be the French national sport, and you too can play by hunkering down in a local café. Many cafés in Paris have covered sidewalk terraces, so if it’s not too chilly, take a seat outside and watch the world go by. Or if the weather makes outdoor seating unpleasant, consider a café with a beautiful interior, like the Caféothèque, Café Kitsuné, or La Fourmi Ailée (8 rue du Fouarre).

If you're wondering how to order coffee in French to-go, it's "a emporter," but consider enjoying your drink at the cafe instead.
Parisian café culture is an experience not to be missed.

5. Do a tour of the covered passages

In the 19th century, a number of covered passages or galleries were added to the Right Bank of the city. Today, you can wander through them among Paris’ grands boulevards, peering into antique bookshops and even passing the Musée Grévin (the French answer to Madame Tussauds). These picturesque, totally Instagrammable passages offer some true Parisian charm while also keeping you dry on a soggy day.

READ MORE: Hidden Paris: Passageways

Passage des Panoramas is one of the oldest hidden Paris passageways.
Passage des Panoramas brings all the vibrancy of a typical Parisian street under one roof. Photo credit: jmdigne

6. Shop at a covered marketplace

Paris is home to nearly 100 weekly outdoor markets, but it also has its share of covered marketplaces. The markets of Saint-Germain, Saint-Martin and Saint-Quentin—not to mention the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest—are well worth a detour, especially on a dreary day.

Inside the Marché des Enfants Rouges in Paris, a great place to visit on a rainy day.
The Marché des Enfants Rouges is a verifiable foodie paradise.

7. See a show

Paris may not be London when it comes to theater, but what it lacks in a West End equivalent, it makes up for in the opera and the ballet. The 19th century Opéra Garnier is located not far from the Louvre and, despite its name, is actually more often home to ballets and dance ensembles. The more modern Bastille opera house, meanwhile, offers a regular schedule of operatic spectacles. Book a ticket online or queue for last-minute tickets.

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