Similar to London, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some showers when you visit Paris throughout the year. While you could grab an umbrella or just go out and brave it anyway, there are lots of things to do indoors. These options, in particular, are ideal for a rainy day in Paris.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
If you don’t want to get wet, you could easily spend an entire day in the Louvre Museum, a top attraction in Paris. The world’s largest, and often considered the greatest art museum, is spread across 675,000 square feet of works from nearly every civilization on the planet. The three favorites are the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo, but as they sit among 35,000 pieces, you’ll find lots more to discover in the rooms upon rooms of art. After that, the Napoleon III apartments are quite dazzling, as is much of the French 19th-century art. But that’s just the beginning. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might want to take one of the 90-minute guided “highlight” tours offered in English multiple times per day, offering a bit more structure to your visit.
Catacombs of Paris
When the sun is hiding, it’s the perfect time for a catacombs tour. While it might be a bit spooky, you’ll get an in-depth look at the ancient burial grounds underneath the city and hear tales of the disturbing history of the catacombs as you venture through the tunnels. Originally these were limestone quarries where stones were mined to build some of Paris’ most famous bridges and buildings. By the late 18th century, millions of bodies were exhumed from the overcrowded cemeteries and moved right here. Once underground, the bodies were stacked one on top of the other in the various chambers, creating walls that are literally lined with human bones.
Located atop the Butte de Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, Sacre-Coeur can be seen from almost everywhere in Paris. The gorgeous 19th-century basilica is open daily, and the dome can be accessed by climbing the 300 steps to the stop. While it will definitely give your legs a workout, the view is worth the effort.
The Musee d’Orsay sits under the roof of one of Paris’ grand old Beaux-Arts railway stations along the Left Bank. One of the world’s most exciting and richest museums in the world, it holds the largest collection of Impressionist masterpieces, including works by Van Gough, Monet, Degas, Rodin, Matisse and many others. Its permanent collection may be small compared to the Louvre, but it spans four floors and several important periods. If you climb to the top balcony, you can take in a spectacular of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The museum also curates a number of major temporary exhibits throughout the year in addition to hosting special events. Guided tours, a bookstore, two cafes and an outstanding restaurant, original to the train station, are offered as well.
Palais Garnier is an Italian-style opera house that not only hosts performances, but visitors can also take a tour, which is well worth your time, perfect for a rainy day. Commissioned by Napoleon III and designed by architect Charles Garnier, you’ll discover secret spaces and mythical sites like the Bassin de la Pythie, the Grand Stairway and the Foyer de la Danse. The interior of the “Opera Garnier” is absolutely breathtaking, with each level of the tour seeming more opulent than the last. It’s been the home of Opera de Paris since the 17th century, and also hosts a small gallery with exhibitions as well as a permanent exhibition of the sets of operas from its history.
The popular Musee Picasso boasts the largest public collections of the renowned artist’s famous works, covering nearly 54,000 square feet across two buildings, a sprawling new structure in the back garden, and the elegant 17th-century Hotel Sale. The collection includes over 5,000 paintings, drawings, ceramic works, engravings and sculptures by the great master that were all donated to the French government by the Picasso’s heirs in lieu of paying inheritance tax.
Centre Pompidou is both an art gallery and a cultural hub, renowned for its outstanding collection of modern art, the largest in Europe with more than 50,000 works and a number of temporary exhibitions, as well as for its radical architectural statement. It delights with not only an irresistible mix of galleries and cutting-edge exhibitions but also hosts dance performances, cinemas, workshops and other entertainment venues. There are many rooms that sprawl across six floors, where you can explore all of the modern art movements from Expressionism and Cubism to Dadaism and Fauvism – perfect for art lovers with more unconventional tastes. The landmark building wears its skeleton on the outside, with structures and tubes color-coded according to function, like red for elevators and green for plumbing. The Stravinsky Fountain, a whimsical brightly-colored fountain depicting 16 works of sculpture incorporating free running water, is a must-see.
One of the most perfect places to spend the day on a rainy day in Paris, if you love the underwater world, you’ll love the Paris Aquarium. Located near the Eiffel Tower, it contains over 40 tanks, more than 10,000 fish and invertebrates along with and 25 sharks. Recently the aquarium added 45 species of fluorescent jellyfish as part of an exhibition aiming to highlight the impact of global warming on marine life, and many say it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
If you want to see the sights while dining on mouthwatering gourmet French cuisine, this excursion is the perfect way to spend the day. Hosted by the BUSTRONOME, it’s a high-end double-decker with a panoramic glass roof so you’ll be able to enjoy the Parisian atmosphere no matter what the conditions. Your delicious meal includes a glass of wine, and in between courses, you’ll learn about the sights accompanied by a French playlist.