Paris is beautiful year round and enchanting in every season. It’s magical in the snow, romantic in the spring when covered in flowers, colourful in the autumn when the leaves change, and picture perfect on a warm, sunny, summer day. But, Paris in the rain? Well, you could argue that it’s romantic but fact is, if you are visiting the city of love as a tourist, a rainy day in Paris is going to put a damper on your sight-seeing plans.
But it doesn’t have to.
Sure you probably don’t want to have a picnic along the Seine, or twirl for photos in front of the Eiffel tower during a downpour. And it may not be the best day to climb Notre Dame for the view, or to explore the picturesque neighbourhood of Montmartre. But, there are still lots of things to see and do on a rainy day in Paris. Here are my top suggestions on how to best experience Paris in the rain.
Have a Staring Contest with Mona Lisa
The Louvre is one of Paris’s top attractions, and almost every person who visits Paris plans to go to see the Mona Lisa. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t on my list of must-do’s for my first two visits to Paris. But, when I got stuck in the rain it was the perfect time to go pay this famous painted lady a visit. Now that I’ve been, I’m glad I did. Sure it is small, and yes it’s insanely crowded, but the photos you see in books and online really don’t do the real thing justice.
Of course, the Louvre has so much more to see than just the Mona Lisa. You could easily spend your entire day wandering through the galleries in the massive museum. The Winged Victory of Samothrace was my personal favourite, the movement in her dress is incredible. Even more so knowing that it’s over 2000 years old!
Lose yourself in Monet’s Water Lilies
I’m not a huge art enthusiast, but I was completely captivated by Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie. The size, the colours, and the artistry is pretty spectacular. I happily sat on a bench in both of the oval rooms and just stared for a good twenty minutes trying to take it all on.
Not only is it a great escape from the rain, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to take a break and rest your feet. Which, trust me, needs to be done every once in a while when exploring Paris.
Find Beauty at a Historic Train Station
Confession: the historic train station is another museum; Musée D’Orsay. But, before you skip past the idea of another museum suggestion (unless you are a museum person- then you’re welcome), know that my favourite aspect of this attraction is actually the architecture and design of the building. It was once a historic railway station called Gare D’Orsay which was built between 1898-1900 so it has that old-world charm that I can’t get enough of. This is also where you’ll find those huge clock windows that you often see on Instagram- and yes, there’s usually a lineup to take photos.
Embrace Your Inner Indiana Jones in the Crypt of Notre Dame
For any other wannabe Indiana Jones’ out there, a visit to the crypt of Notre Dame is a must and the perfect way to spend part of a rainy day in Paris. The history down here spans over 2000 years and allows visitors a glimpse into Paris of the past. There are ruins and artefacts dating from the different time periods and the cultures who lived here including the original Parisians; a Gaulish tribe called the Parisii. It’s a great spot to spend an hour or two for those who love history and archaeology.
Visit some of France’s Most Distinguished Citizens
The Pantheon is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Located in the Latin Quarter, the Paris Pantheon was inspired after the one in Rome with the goal of out-doing St. Peter’s in Rome. Today, the Paris Pantheon holds plenty of artworks as well as a crypt containing the remains of some of France’s most distinguished citizens of the past. These include, but are not limited to, Marie Curie, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas. Also, don’t leave without seeing Foucault’s pendulum which shows the earth’s rotation.
Hunt for Ghosts in the City’s Catacombs
Paris’ Catacombs are dark, eerie, and awesome. The underground ossuary was created to help with the overflow of Paris’ cemeteries and is said to house the bones of more than six million people. Today, it’s become a curiosity where visitors descent deep underground to walk among the stacked bones. It’s fascinating, but definitely a little creepy. Especially if you end up going alone like I did.
Be Dazzled by the Famous Cabaret
Paris and cabarets kind of go hand and hand, and while the city is home to a few different shows, there’s nothing like going to the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge has been entertaining visitors for over 100 years with song, dance, acrobatics, and elaborate, sparkling costumes. I’ve been twice now and have loved it both times around (click here to read why I recommend it). It’s an enchanting performance and the perfect way to end a rainy day in Paris.
The Moulin Rouge does tend to book up quickly though, so it’s best to book well in advance. Don’t worry though, I promise you will love it even if it’s not raining.
Relax in a Café
Whether you are tired of exploring museums and crypts, or maybe you just wanted a low-key, laid back to day then look no further than Paris’ cafes. From bright and airy to dark and moody, Paris has no shortage of places to grab a bite to eat or even just a coffee or glass of wine. Café hopping in Paris is a great way escape the rain. You can soak up some local culture, try different foods, and just relax and take a break for the normal site-seeing.
Paris in the rain may not be the ideal, but it doesn’t have to ruin your plans. There’s still plenty to see and do on a rainy day in Paris.