This article was originally posted on 2 June 2016, but has been updated with new information.
Paris is lacking a little vitamin D right now… but that doesn’t mean we need to shut ourselves away in the darkness and hibernate until June actually feels like June… There are plenty of Paris activities to keep you going even in the worst of weather. Our suggestions below!
I mean, we ARE in Paris so this is kind of a no-brainer. But on cool rainy days: aside from a crackling fireplace, nothing says comfort like opening the door to a café and being wrapped up in warm coffee smells.
I’m a bit particular with my choice of cafes, and I’d encourage you to be just as discerning. There are your every-day Parisian cafes, sure, and you shouldn’t miss those! They really give that certain Parisian ambiance, that je ne sais quoi that makes you sure, absolutely sure, you’re in Paris.
But on a rainy day, I think you should look for more comfort, better service, and most importantly of all: real good coffee. Below are some suggestions (full info in each article) of a few favorites to get you started – and as a February 2018 update, here’s a few more!
Key word here: niche. Try to go to the Louvre today and you’ll find that everyone and their mom had the exact same idea (see “Things to avoid on rainy days,” below).
Lucky for you: Paris is teeming with small, unique museums that honestly never get super crowded. They are charming, beautiful, sheltered from the rain and cold, and will provide for some great and surprising additions to your vacation story. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts Museum)
One of my personal favorites, this museum is connected to the Louvre and houses beautiful collections of design and decorative arts. Think: cutlery and ceramic dishes, chairs and other feats of woodworking, delicate crystal glassware… not to mention an entire section on Art Nouveau. Currently there’s a Barbie expo that is pretty amazing, whether you played with Barbies or not.
Address: 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 (metro Tuileries, line 1)
Open: 11am-6pm Tue, Wed, Fri-Sun; 11am-9pm Thur
Website for more information
Musée des Arts Forains (Fairground/Carnival Museum)
19th and 20th century fairground attractions… is it haunting, or beautiful, or both? I can’t help but think of Ray Bradbury’s story “Something Wicked This Way Comes”… This is truly one of a kind and I would definitely recommend it. You can’t just walk in here so (mmm, exclusive!) you’ll have to contact the museum for schedules of upcoming tours and make a reservation for one of them.
Address: 53 avenue des Terroirs de France, 75010 (metro Cour St-Emillion, line 14)
Website for more information
Musée des Arts et Métiers (Technical innovation Museum)
This is a fascinating museum full of inventions, mechanics, science, and technical knowledge. There are many inventions on display which make for a more interactive experience than your typical art museum. Foucault’s pendulum – the original, circa 1851 – is not only on disply here, but presentations are given Great for families, kids, or science lovers.
Address: 60 rue Réaumur 75003 (metro Arts et Metiers or Reaumur Sebastopol)
Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am-6pm, Thursdays until 9:30pm. Closed Mondays, 1 May, 25 December.
Website for more information
Image: Jean Claude Wetzel, Musee des Arts et Metiers
Musée de l’Histoire de la Medecine (Medical History Museum)
This might sound a bit strange, but for anyone who’s seen the movie “Saw” or watched “ER” it’s… enlightening. There’s some seriously interesting stuff here including ancient Egyptian embalming tools and the scalpel of a certain Dr. Félix, who was Louis XIV’s physician. And that guy had a LOT of health problems…
Address: Université René Descartes , 12 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine, 75006 (metro Odéon, lines 4 and 10)
Open: Mid July-Sept 2-5.30pm Mon-Fri. Oct-mid July 2-5.30pm Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat
Website for more information
For more suggestions: See this page full of weird museums
Are you afraid of getting lost in whichever Parisian museum you choose to visit? We will rescue you from that terrible fate… ask us about creating a custom tour for you during your time in Paris. Plus, we’ll offer you a discount on the tour just for reading this article (yay you!). Mention this article in your email!
No, you won’t be able to easily see a French movie with English subtitles (though it is possible, more on that in a minute)… but there are plenty of theaters that show movies in English. Look for “VO” after the movie title: VO stands for ‘version originale,” which means the film will be subtitled in French instead of dubbed. “VF” (‘version française’) will be dubbed so you’ll want to avoid those unless of course you speak French!
Films are similar prices in Paris than a lot of other big cities – count on about 10-11 € for a regular film, and add a few more for a 3D film.
There are a handful of what I would call ‘destination theaters’ in Paris… they’ve got something a little special about them, and can make a trip to the movie theater seem like so much more.
This exotic cinema is decorated in ancient Egyptian motifs, and has a quite racy history… it was the first place to begin dabbling in adult film in the 70s. Don’t worry, it’s all cleaned up and beautiful now!
170 Boulevard de Magenta, 75010 (Metro Barbes-Rochechouart, line 4 and 2)
Nestled in the hilly Montmartre neighborhood, this quaint and charming one-screen cinema mostly attracts locals. Its history spans back to 1930 when it was the first avant garde cinemas in the entire city… so it’s now the oldest continuously operating cinema in Paris. There are a lot of indie films here, and old classics are also shown monthly (you can even vote on which one!). Check the website to see what films are showing and when.
10, rue Tholozé, 75018 (Metro Abbesses, line 12)
MK2 Quai de Loire & Quai de Seine
The most remarkable thing about this cinema is its location – the two theaters straddle the canal! If you purchase your tickets on the wrong side, you can even take the free MK2 ferry across the canal. Tip: head to La Rotunde bar for a post-show drink.
7 quai de la Loire / 14 quai de la Seine 75019 (metro Stalingrand, lines 2, 5, and 7)
AlloCine is the best site for movie times and tickets across Paris (you can search by film name, district ie ‘75010’, or the name of the cinema). The site is in French but is still pretty easy to navigate since you’re really just looking for movie times, a mention of “VO,” and the film title.
Remember: you’re here to see Paris, but you’re also on vacation! Don’t discount the charm of seeing a movie on a rainy day.
And if you’d like to see a French film for a little more authenticity while you’re here, it IS possible! Lost in Frenchlation is an organization that finds movie theaters to host English-subtitled French films. As of right now, movies are once per week. Check out their website’s schedule or their Facebook page to see what’s showing during your trip!
A lot of travelers see all the ‘main’ sites of Paris but have a tendency to miss out on the more unique, ‘real Paris’ sites. When you’re limited on time (as it is on vacation), that’s how you have to do it! But we live here, and are in the wonderful position to pass on some of the real Paris info to you.
The old covered passageways are a great example of this. There used to be hundreds in Paris, and now there’s only a spattering left. These “inside-but-sort-of-outside” passageways have a lot to offer. They could even be a great destination for the photographer in you! My personal favorite:
Passage Jouffroy/ Passage Verdeau/ Passage des Panoramas
Okay this is kind of cheating since there are really 3 passageways here… but they are all in continuation of one another so I’m sticking with this as one entry! You’ll find some old-timey shops, vintage bookshops, bars, restaurants, and more. Plus, you’ll be in a pretty beautiful environment: glass ceilings and old ironwork, some original storefronts… The Grevin wax museum is also here and though it is neat, most of the figures are French celebrities so it’s a lot more interesting if you have a solid grasp of French culture (personally, I didn’t know most of them).
Start at: 10-12 boulevard Montmartre, 75009 (metro Grands Boulevards, line 8 and 9) or 10 rue Saint-Marc, 75002 (metro Bourse, line 3)
The official Paris Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has a great list of the covered passages in Paris – check them out to see if there are some you like even more than my favorite, above! Many people adore Vivienne and Vero-Dodat for their sophisticated charm, or Brady for it’s incredible Indian food.
Yes, chocolate! Haven’t you heard – chocolate is better than kissing? Science says. So what better way to perk up your endorphins than indulge in some of the most wonderful chocolate experiences Paris has to offer?
Gorgeous interior, wonderful central location, delicious and fine pastries, and best of all the most famous hot chocolate in all of Paris. It. Is. Incredible. And a real Paris institution, not to be missed. Our tip: go for the hot chocolate and pastries, but eat lunch somewhere else… the meals are more expensive than they should be.
226 rue de Rivoli, 75001 (metro Tuileries, line 1)
Open: Every day 8:30am-7pm
The Sweet Street tour
We are tooting our own horn here and yes there is walking around outside involved… but our The Sweet Street tour is pretty amazing. Our guide will take you to 7 dessert and sweety shops, tasting and talking along the way. It really is a great way to boost your mood and – to be honest – get some unforgettable Paris souvenirs to bring back home! Plus: bonus 5 euros off per person with the discount code BLOGTHX. Mmmmm, mmmm, good!
Available: Tuesday-Saturday 10:30amm
Things to avoid
- Big museums like Le Louvre, Pompidou Center, Orsay Museum… the crowds are going to make you crazy
- Eiffel Tower climb… if you have tickets then there’s no avoiding it, but bundle up. If it’s cold and rainy on the ground, it’ll be even more intense up there
- Shutting yourself up in your hotel…it’s not monsoon season out there ladies and gents! There’s so much to see in Paris even if the weather is bad. And you know what they say in Midnight in Paris… “Paris is most beautiful in the rain”.