French Friday – Best places to spend a rainy day in Paris

Rainy days in Paris are a perfect excuse to visit the indoor stuff in Paris that let your imagination run wild.

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On a rainy day in Paris, you can explore the wonders of outer space or delve into the mysteries of the deep blue sea; discover great stories in a bookstore that’s a great story in itself or spend an afternoon being treated like royalty. Armed with a good slicker and your umbrella, there’s no reason to let a little rain get in the way of a wonderful day in Paris…

CineAqua

Even if it’s too wet to explore the Trocadéro Gardens you can happily spend the day nice and dry in the nearby Paris Aquarium and CineAqua. Home to over 10,000 species of fish showcased in cutting-edge exhibits like their eerie shark tunnel, this venue also serves as a tribute to the fine art of film. Watch demonstrations on how they create those amazing special effects and when you’re tired of walking, settle into a cozy theater seat to watch the kind of avant garde shows that you’ll never see in your neighborhood movie house.

Cineaqua-Paris
CineAqua Paris

Shakespeare and Company

Take advantage of a rainy day in Paris to visit Shakespeare and Company, where travelers yearning to read text not written in French can feast their eyes at this independent bookstore that has served Paris’ English-speaking ex patriots since 1919.

Like a set out of a Harry Potter movie with towering floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, protocol does not require you to pick out a book, make your purchase and leave. Instead, patrons are invited to snuggle in and stay awhile. In fact, there are 13 beds available to struggling writers with the stipulation that they read a book for each day they stay.

Fascinating lectures and workshops are held upstairs in the reading room where novelists like Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce once explored the same hard-to-find volumes collected by owner George Whitman from the libraries of such notables as Graham Greene and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Featured in the movie “Midnight in Paris,” this iconic Left Bank bookstore has also been the subject of the recent hit documentary “Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man.”

Shakespeare-Company-Paris
One of MANY Shakespeare & Company shops in Paris

Palace of Discovery

To explore worlds where rain is never an issue, the famed Palace of Discovery invites you to climb aboard the Space Odyssey of ArianeV, a 3D digital simulation of a voyage to another planet. When you come back to earth, grab your umbrella for a quick dash to the planetarium right next door where you can lay back and watch the computer simulation of night sky overhead and ponder the movement of the constellations.

palais-de-la-decouverte
Palais de la Decouverte in Paris

Mosque de Paris

Sometimes the best way to deal with a soggy day is go with the flow at the luxurious hammams (steam rooms) like the hammam at the Mosque de Paris (where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a story from the Arabian Nights).

Prepare to be pampered after your indulgent steam bath with exfoliating body scrubs that melt away the tension along with those pesky dead skin cells that make you look older than you feel. For the finale, you are polished to perfection with scented almond oils and sent back into the rainy streets of Paris with a velvety glow and tranquil smile.

Instead of letting a little rain put a damper on Paris, embrace it as an opportunity to dive deep and discover how entertaining the City of Lights can be, even on gray days.

Mosque-in-Paris
Mosque de Paris

About the author:
Lela Lake is a life-long lover of Paris and writes for AnyTrip.com, the budget travel specialists.

10 Comments

  1. This is a nice post from Lela! I have really been enjoying the guest posts on AnyTrip as well as posts by AnyTrip on some of the blogs I read. This is a nice list. I would add that I love to go to the movies on a rainy day in Paris. There are movies playing in English with French subtitles all over the city. Or practice listening to French at a French-language film! Even though I love to go see current American hits in Paris, it’s still a cross-cultural experience as theater-going varies from country to country. It’s fun to experience the different snacks at the concessions, and I have to say that the theater-goers in Paris are very quiet and polite viewers, as the norm. No talking, no cell phones going off. Of course, one is expected to act the same! It is a fun way to spend a little time if the weather is truly cold and crappy.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      September 24, 2011

      @Karin, going to the movies is something I do every single trip to Paris – rain or shine, I love it!

      Reply
  2. P.S. (I seem to like to leave “P.S.’s” here, lol) If anyone wants to watch the movie “Portrait of a Book Store as an Old Man” it is here on Google Videos: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5574284408427118756

    What’s interesting to me is to see how current manager/owner Sylvia Whitman (George’s daughter) has really cleaned up and organized things a lot more as compared to what’s in the video. For anyone who has not been there, the charm and labyrinth-feel of the book shop remains, but it is a lot less chaotic-looking than what is in the video. Kudos to Sylvia for keeping the look and feel of an iconic location in Paris, but bringing it forward into the 21st century!

    Reply
  3. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite
    September 24, 2011

    What a great list of places to head when it rains. Personally, I find I can spend hours in E Dellherin or Mora or any cookware store 😉

    Reply
    1. Andi
      September 24, 2011

      @Mardi, good suggestion!

      Reply
  4. Lady Jennie
    September 24, 2011

    This is invaluable. I’m tweeting it.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      September 24, 2011

      @Jennie, glad you liked it!

      Reply
  5. Lindsey
    September 25, 2011

    Great list! The Mosquée DEFINITELY should be on everyone’s list rain or shine!

    Reply
  6. […] explore Paris. Until it starts raining. Sure, there are plenty of places you can explore during a rainy day in Paris, but it would be a shame to miss out on everything else that the city has to offer. The solution? […]

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  7. […] and ice cream by the Seine may not be part of the equation, Paris has plenty to offer even on the rainiest of days. Besides, there is no better time to experience some of the seasonal specialties (hello Chandeleur […]

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