It’s raining – but fortunately there’s always something to do in Paris, even on rainy days! This is your chance to get a different perspective on the capital’s treasures while keeping warm and dry.
Sitting cosily in the Ladurée or Angelina tea rooms, for instance, watching the rain fall as you sample mouth-watering pastries and French macarons amid quintessentially Parisian Belle Epoque decor. If you’re a chocolate fan, the Lindt shop and tea room is the perfect place to wait out the rain while you give in to temptation.
How to conjure up that sunny day feeling
It feels like the Tropics inside the greenhouse of the gardens of Auteil, where the atmosphere is kept hot and humid all year round to benefit the 6,000 plant species growing here. From palm trees to exotic birds, everything in here is guaranteed to give you a real change of scene! Inside the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes in southern Paris, you can wander among creepers, banana trees, ferns and orchids, imagine yourself transported to the heat of the American desert, and explore New Caledonia’s amazing plant life. And for an all-inclusive experience, head to the huge glass-ceilinged Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, where you can observe a variety of very lifelike stuffed animals and their natural habitats. Another way to stay dry is to visit the tropical aquarium in the Palais de la Porte Dorée and spend time admiring the fascinating collection of 5,000 animals including primitive fish, ‘electric’ fish, sharks, piranhas and crocodiles.
If you feel like a trip to the beach, that’s possible too, at Sandfabrik – a great place to enjoy a game of beach volleyball, beach rugby and other beach sports, with your feet in the sand and not a single drop of rain. After your exertion, you can chill out at Coco de Mer, the restaurant with a feel of the Seychelles. A white sand beach, wicker chairs and traditional Seychelles delicacies to feast on: it’s as good as being there! For a French summer holiday atmosphere complete with Pastis, a charcuterie platter and a game of boules, head to one of the three Chez Bouboule restaurants, open every day except Sunday.
If it’s raining but you’d still like to be sitting out on a terrace, no problem – there are covered terraces to be found in many parts of Paris. For starters, there’s Le Très Particulier, tucked away amid leafy greenery in the heart of Montmartre, or, a short way away, the terrace of Terrass’ Hotel, with its famed view over all of Paris. Or you could go slightly off the beaten track and sink into a comfortable chair at the glass-ceilinged restaurant L’Île in Issy-les-Moulineaux to gaze out at the view of the Île Saint Germain island. Further east, Pavillon Puebla’s wooden terrace with ethnic decor is a cosy spot from which to watch the drizzle. In the Latin Quarter, the Grande Mosquée de Paris is a peaceful haven amid the city’s bustle. Treat yourself to delicious Oriental pastries while sipping mint tea in the Moorish interior of the tea room while you wait for the rain to stop – or why not go one step further and pamper yourself in the hammam, or Turkish bath (women only).
Unusual ways to stay out of the rain
Looking for something a little different? Head to Deyrolle. This temple of taxidermy is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary places in the French capital. And while we’re on the subject of unusual activities, what could be more original than an iFLY indoor skydiving session? Alternatively, FlyView, an immersive experience using virtual reality, is great fun with friends or family: get into a flight simulator and fly over Paris. Aviation enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that Flight Expérience Paris operates a true replica of a Boeing 737.
For thrills and chills, pay a visit to the Manoir de Paris, a vast 23-room mansion where you will get to know some of Paris’s scariest legends, such as the ones about the phantom of the opera, the hired killers used by the Medicis, and the bloodthirsty butcher. This temple of fear also puts on an escape game, Skeleton Key – only one of many such games to be found in various locations in the capital. Going backstage at Paris monuments is another way to sightsee without getting wet. Find out all the secrets of places like the Opéra Garnier, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Stade de France, the Printemps Haussmann and the Crazy Horse in the course of a guided behind-the-scenes tour.
More info about escape games
A rainy day is a good excuse to explore some of the 30 covered passages in the 2nd arrondissement that escaped Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris, or to venture into the catacombs and pay your respects to some famous characters from history whose remains are to be found here, such as Rabelais, Racine, Blaise Pascal, Montesquieu, the Perrault brothers, Danton and Robespierre. Another underground option is the Musée des égouts de Paris (closed for renovation until 2020), where you will learn about the history of the city’s complex sewer network (the earliest drain dates back to the 13th century).
More info about unusual activities
With the children
What if it’s raining and your children insist on going out? Paris has any number of family-friendly places to explore, whatever the weather! There are lots of good places to have lunch with the kids, starting with Casa Luca, which serves a delicious Italian brunch, and the Atelier des P’tits Chefs, where children learn how to make tasty pizzas. On the Île de la Jatte, Café La Jatte is the perfect place to enjoy classic Italian dishes in an amazing location, with a fake dinosaur skeleton providing added interest. There are also creative workshops for children every Sunday afternoon, such as how to make a dragon’s egg, a cat mask or a Snow Queen crown.
For Asian food fans, a good option is Chez Hé, where parents can enjoy a meal in the restaurant section while keeping an eye via monitors on the kids playing in the basement room filled with games. For some leisurely browsing, head to La REcyclerie, Ground Control or Comptoir Général, three trendy yet family-friendly crossover venues where you will find eating areas, secondhand or vintage objects and clothes, exhibitions, DIY workshops, plays, concerts and children’s activities.
Food and entertainment are on the menu of the River Café at weekends. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, kids can enjoy after-lunch activities like fishing, make-up sessions, shows and workshops while their parents enjoy a good meal next to a wood fire in this restaurant on the banks of the Seine.
Fan de Carotte is Paris’s first canteen and food store catering to families. Parents sample dishes made with market-fresh organic produce while tiny tots enjoy the homemade baby food. Children are the centre of attention here, with workshops and playgroups especially for them. The Mombini shop/café in the 15th arrondissement is a laid-back space where expecting and new parents can relax in the café or take part in activities like learning to massage their baby. There is also a play area for older children. A good place for some family fun on a rainy day!
If you’re more museum-oriented, the Musée en Herbe has exhibitions that will appeal to people of all ages, in which the visitors are the heroes, as well as workshops for kids aged 2 ½ to 4 ½ years and others for 5-to-12-year-olds. At La Villette, the Cité des Enfants is the realm of 2-7-year-olds with a vast area devoted to them, featuring themes such as ‘I discover myself’, ‘I can do’, ‘I locate myself’, ‘I experiment’ and ‘All together’.
Across from the Eiffel Tower is a museum with great appeal for children, the Musée de l'Homme. Filled with interactive exhibits, it is a treasure trove for curious minds of all ages, with hiding places, games exploring differences, and short films to learn more about human evolution. The Pompidou Centre is another family-friendly museum, with plenty of entertaining art-themedactivities. Then of course there is that Paris must-see, the Musée Grevin, where the whole family will enjoy looking at the wax figures of famous people. Here’s your chance to be photographed alongside your favourite celebrities – and stay dry in the process!