What to Do in Paris When it Rains

If you’ve seen “Midnight in Paris” or even just perused Pinterest, you probably think there’s nothing more romantic than wandering the streets of Paris in a light drizzle while your leather bag suffers water damage and your hair goes from windswept to Muppet.

But how about that third day in a row of downpour? When you’ve been to every museum in town and you’re jittery from drinking too many espressos in cafes just to stay somewhere dry? Well, fret not. You’re not out of options just yet.

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Indoor Gardens

Grands Serres

When all is damp and growing, where better to go than a greenhouse? Paris has a number of these hothouses, called les serres, including the Grandes Serres in the Jardin des Plantes, the Jardins des Serres d’Auteuil in the Bois de Boulogne, and Les Serres du Jardin du Luxembourg.

– Jardins des Serres d’Auteuil, 3 Avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil, 75016
– Les Serres du Jardin du Luxembourg, Luxembourg Gardens, 75006
– Grandes Serres, Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005

Covered Pathways

Galeries Vivienne

One of the great architectural secrets of Paris are les passages couverts that run through much of the 2nd arrondissement. These beautiful alleys were once covered markets, and are still full of shops selling books, artwork, and curiosities. Start at the Passage du Grand Cerf and work your way through the Galerie Vivienne, Passage Jouffroy, and Passage des Panoramas.

– Passage du Grand Cerf, 145 rue Saint-Denis, 75002
– Galerie Vivienne, 5 Rue de la Banque, 75002
– Passage Jouffroy, 10-12 boulevard Montmartre, 75009
– Passage des Panoramas, 11 boulevard Montmartre, 75002

The Catacombs

catacombs paris

If outside’s too mucky, why not take a trip underground? Paris’s famous catacombs are just the place to go on a dark and stormy night (well, before 8:30pm, that is) when you’re in the mood to face some existential dread. Some 200 miles of underground tunnels await, even though only a small portion are open to the public. Take an umbrella for if you have to wait in line, and opt for the audio tour (it’s worth it).

– Paris Catacombs, 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014

Bookshops

abbey bookshop

If the rain makes you want to curl up by a fireplace with a good book, try visiting one of the English-language bookstores in the Latin Quarter to pick up a quick read and a lasting souvenir. Abbey Bookshop, the lesser-known of the two, is a tiny Canadian-owned hallway crammed to the gills with both new best sellers and out-of-print titles. For your more touristy option, head to Shakespeare & Co., which now boasts an adjoining cafe where visitors can linger for a coffee or a slice of lemon cake while they peruse the store’s curious history. A schedule of Shakespeare’s readings and events can be found here.

– Abbey Bookshop, 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005
– Shakespeare & Co., 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005

The Cinema

cinematique francaise

Fun fact: Paris has the highest density of cinemas in the world. It is a city that loves going to the movies, and considers its films an intrinsic part of French culture. So why not catch a local screening of a latest hit at a classic historic movie theater like La Cinémathèque Française or Le Brady? And if you’re looking for an atypical French movie experience, check out the Studio Galande in the Latin Quarter, which hosts weekly showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a full shadow cast. Just be sure to get your tickets well in advance, and bring newspapers, or you might get as wet inside as you would outside in the rain.

– La Cinémathèque Française, 51 Rue de Bercy, 75012
– Le Brady, 39 Boulevard de Strasbourg, 75010
– Studio Galande, 42 Rue Galande, 75005

Grands Magasins

Galeries Lafayette

As suburban American kids know, when all else fails, go to the mall. Paris has many beautiful grands magasins like the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann or the Bon Marché, which are especially beautiful during the winter holidays when they get decked out in their Christmas finery.

– Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
– Le Bon Marché, 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007