I never had this big dream of visiting Paris. I don’t mean to say I didn’t want to go there – seriously, where do I not want to go to? – but all the glamour around the city never really hit me. But while I was planning my Eurotrip 2016 I decided it was time to finally go to the French capital, partly because my mom, who was my partner during this part of the trip, had been there and really loved it, and also because well, you know? It’s right over there, tickets are cheap, so let’s just go grab some croissant!
Even though I had zero expectations around Paris, as soon as I booked my ticket I started
going crazy picturing all these imaginary scenario involving Paris, many lights, caps, accordion music on the streets, baguettes under the arm and the fancy accent. The whole clichê. All of a sudden I had a million plans for Paris and couldn’t wait to arrive there.
It practically didn’t stop raining. It poured so bad that they actually closed the Louvre to move some artwork to a higher spot afraid the flood would be as bad as 1910’s. Even the Sena got closed! And along with all the rain came a massive wind that looked like angry Zeus himself, making me so cold in almost June, supposedly Summer time in Europe. Did I have a coat with me? Of course not. On top of that, we stayed in a not so great apartment, and unfortunately we experienced a lot of the famous Parisian bad mood with people literally pushing us on the streets. Things can be very expensive in Paris and how easy is it to get lost there? I don’t usually care – how can I really? I get lost everyday when I travel – but to get lost in the cold rain with no one’s help… a whole different story.
Let go of worries and have fun during a difficult situation in a fine art I’m still learning. I confess I was in a bad mood with all this rainy weather (sorry, mom!), but now it’s all gone here’s the thing: yeah, Paris is really beautiful! If you wanna visit Paris, just go for it! The city is huge and full of distinct expressions, gorgeous architecture and cultural options, many coffee shops, restaurants and things to do and see. It is indeed exciting to experience Paris’ emotions: see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, stroll around the Sena, watch the super famous monuments, explore the amazing Montmartre…
I just hope you are luckier than I was to experience sunny days or at least have the right outfit with you. But in case you need it, here is a mini guide on 7 things to enjoy in Paris even when it’s raining:
1. Do a cooking class
It’s impossible to think of Paris and not remember at least one of it’s gastronomic icons. My best idea was to enjoy this trip and learn how to prepare of of these things: I tried the croissant & breakfast pastries class at La Cuisine Paris and just loved it! Everything about it was GREAT! It was super fun to spend some time with a real chef who shared some French cousine tricks (that I probably forgot by now) and leave the place carrying the fresh pastries I had baked myself! All the classes are taught in English and the school’s staff are very helpful with recommendations on places to eat or buy ingredients around Paris.
2. Visit a museum – or many ones!
There are hundreds of museums throughout the city and you probably already have one scheduled for your time in Paris, but museums are even more special (and handy) during rainy weather. I wish I could’ve been to more museums, but in the end I just attended the Louvre, which was not originally on my plans, but I really loved it! The museum is massive, filled with amazing art and just to walk around its halls it’s a great experience already. Try and visit the museums during their expended hours once many tourists don’t pay attention to this detail and they tend to be much less crowded. Take the Louvre: it closes at 6:00 pm everyday but on Wednesdays and Fridays, when it’s open until 9:45 pm, making it possible to check Mona Lisa up close with barely no one in front of you!
3. Go shopping
Paris has many galleries, some pretty famous and almost exclusively attended by big tourist groups, like Lafayette. If shopping in the middle of a crowd is your thing, you gonna love it! There are endless options and brands, and may I suggest you bring me a souvenir? But really, even if that’s not your thing, this gallery is so beautiful it’s worth a visit at least to check the amazing glass ceiling.
Another good option are the little boutique stores “lost” around town. We’ve been to a art supplies one called Charvin on our way back from an almost visit to Musée d’Orsay (have I mentioned how the rain ruined things and closed the museums? I thought so). Won’t say if we spent a good hour just going through inks and brushes here. Ok, we did.
4. Study French
Studying French was my initial plan in Paris, but once I just have a few days in the city I decided to change plans and studied Spanish when I was in Spain instead. What I can say though is that learning a language in its original home country is an amazing and rich experience. The well known school Alliance Française offers classes in Paris and other French cities starting every week. Who knows I might be back to Paris in the upcoming future to study a bit?
5. Explore the churches
Paris has a lot of famous and amazing churches, some forever immortalized in our memories by classic books and movies. For me, as a “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain” fan, I loved visiting Sacré Cœur. I was also touched to learn that it was at the Notre Dame Cathedral that Joan of Arc was beatified and “lost” her reputation of a witch. There was a several-hours line to go up the top of Notre Dame, but to visit the main nave took just a few minutes and was totally free!
6. Find the bookstores
Bookstores should be considered Wonders of the World. I can’t imagine a better place than one surrounded by books, stories and, with some luck, a good cup of coffee. Paris is full of bookstores and I chose the lovely Shakespeare and Company to visit, nearby Notre Dame. Besides all the good new and old books, they have nice bags and an open piano. Go ahead and visit their coffeeshoo too, in the same corner – great soup!
Of course I had to bring food into discussion! Eating is one of my favorites things ever, and traveling goes hand in hand with trying good food. Enjoy the rainy day to gaze at the rain through the window, enjoying some coffee and maybe some desert, too. Hmmm!
My suggestion: even if it’s raining you should stop by Montmatre neighborhood, the eternal scenario where we met Amélie Poulain and her fabulous chanel and visit Café des Deux Moulins, the coffee shop she was a waitress on. I loved feeling inside the movie for a while and how great is it to break the crust of a crème brûlée? ~creeeck~
So, yes, the rain might have been inconvenient for me to fulfill my favorite traveling activity: just walk around a lot! But still, merci for the cold, wet but still awesome days, Paris!
And for you, what’s the big secret to turn around a trip that isn’t going exactly as you planned?