The City of Light has an extensive history and there are many must-see spots that every visitor should experience. You can stroll through a museum that was once the palace of a king, or view the plaza where the French monarchy came to an end!
Not only does Paris have a prominent place in history, but it is also the uncrowned capital of food and fashion. That means there are many places to visit when the weather turns wet! So grab your parapluie (umbrella!) and explore all this magnificent city has to offer!
Iconic Cafés and Bars
Café de la Paix
5 Place de l’Opera | Café de la Paix’s website
Café de la Paix has long been a favorite of Parisians – it was declared a historic site in 1975. The beautifully ornate interior is exactly what comes to mind when you think of Paris in its Belle Epoque heyday. There are frescoes, brass fixtures, and beautifully arranged tables throughout the restaurant. You can see writers, artists, and poets meeting here to exchange ideas. The proximity to the opera makes this one of the most popular cafes in Paris. Be sure to check it out, whether you just want to sip on a cafe creme, or enjoy their delectable menu.
Café de Flore
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain | Café de Flore’s website
Café de Flore has been entertaining all kinds of customers since 1887. This interesting part of Parisian society has seen its fair share of amazing literary intellectuals cross paths there. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir famously discussed all kinds of philosophical questions there, among many of their esteemed colleagues. If you’d like to see the place where Existentialism was born, view a part of Paris unchanged by time, or just want to indulge in a fine glass of wine as you people-watch, then Café de Flore is for you.
Le Grand Vefour
17 Rue de Beaujolais | Le Grand Vefour’s website
If you can splurge on a visit to a restaurant with Michelin stars, make Le Grand Vefour one of them! Hailed as one of Paris’ first gastronomical restaurants, this place has been in operation for over 200 years. It serves the elite of Paris, as well as visitors who come to experience Parisian culture. With a world-class chef and an always-evolving menu, Le Grand Vefour is a must-stop if it happens to rain on your tour of Paris.
Rue de Rivoli | The Louvre’s website
Everyone who travels to Paris should see the Louvre, rain or shine! But if it does rain during your trip, make that your Louvre day. You could easily spend multiple days exploring all the treasures that this iconic museum has to offer. As soon as you glimpse this former palace of royalty, you know you’re in the presence of something special. The amount of art and sculpture here is staggering, and includes the most famous pieces of art in the world, including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo, just to name a few. After touring, rest your feet for a while at any of the nearby cafés, such as Café Marly or Café Blanc.
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur | Musee d’Orsay’s website
This museum opened in 1986 to showcase art created between 1848 and 1914, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and architecture. Perhaps the most famous collection is that of the Impressionists, including Monet, Manet, Degas, and Renoir just to list a few. The museum also showcases popular works by Vincent van Gogh. There is no other collection like this on earth, and it is definitely worth your visit.
77 Rue de Varenne | Musee Rodin’s website
Off the beaten path but still a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon is the Musee Rodin. This museum is dedicated to the work of Auguste Rodin, a popular and highly influential 19th-century sculptor. His most famous works include The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, and The Kiss. The museum also displays his sketches and incomplete drawings that are critical to the making of a masterpiece. Make sure to bring your parapluie so you can stroll the small outdoor sculpture garden as well!
Shopping in the French Capital
Parisian covered passages
11 Boulevard Montmartre | Parisian covered passages website
A wonderfully unique way to shop in Paris is by visiting one of its many covered passages. These beautiful arcades were built mostly in the 19th century, and were a means to allow shoppers and strollers a place to safely walk and shop. One of the oldest is the Passage des Panoramas, which still houses a theater to this day. Visit the Passage Brady for an eclectic array of shops from India and Pakistan. If antiques are more your thing, stroll along the Passage Verdeau and hunt for treasures.
Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville
52 Rue de Rivoli | Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville’s website
This wonderful department store is located right in the heart of Paris! If you’d like to spend your rainy afternoon shopping for chic Parisian attire, this is where to go. They have everything from clothing, to books, to electronics, so no matter what you’re on the hunt for, the Bazar is sure to have it. This department store is right across the street from the Hotel de Ville, which serves as the city hall of Paris. If you’ve had your fill of shopping, head over to the Hotel and see one of the many free exhibits put on throughout the year.
Bookstores Parisians Love to Get Lost In
Shakespeare and Company
37 Rue de la Bucherie | Shakespeare and Company’s website
Rainy Paris afternoons are made for coffee, viewing artwork, and browsing bookstores of course! The first bookstore that any bibliophile would recommend is the famous Shakespeare and Company. This was the first English-language bookstore in Paris, and when it opened in 1951, it immediately became a popular place for book lovers, artists, and intellectuals to converge. Get lost among the books in this amazing little store, or stop in for one of their weekly free literary events!
27 Rue de la Parcheminerie | Abbey Bookshop’s website
Another can’t-miss bookstore in Paris is the Abbey Bookshop, which offers a large array of books, both new and used. There are plenty of English language books here, in addition to a variety of French authors. This shop is tucked away from the large, bustling streets and once you’re inside, you might as well just lose yourself for an afternoon! If you can pull yourself away from the books, chill in a nearby cafe in the Latin Quarter and start to enjoy your book!
The Catacombs of Paris
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy | Paris Catacomb’s website
Another way to avoid rainy weather is to go underground and visit the catacombs that lay just beneath the city surface. Created in the early 19th century, the catacombs were designed to respectfully rehouse remains that had to be moved. In the catacombs, you can also view the Ossuary, where loose bones and skulls are organized into a series of columns and rows. It is an interesting, and thought-provoking site and should not be missed!
Taylored Tours can craft a vacation to France that takes in its landscapes, from the mountains of the Rhône-Alpes to Provence’s lavender fields and the Riviera’s Mediterranean. We can also include the country’s historic sites, like the chateaux that stud the Loire Valley and the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy. Then, gastronomy-wise, we can point you in the direction of the best local produce markets, AOC-designated wineries and one-off experiences, not just in culinary hubs like Bordeaux and Lyon, but across the whole country.
I believe deeply in the power of travel. Anything I can do to get you out exploring the world makes me happy! So, what are you waiting for? Taylored Tours is on standby to help plan your next European vacation. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about traveling to Europe.
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