How do you spend time in Paris on days when you're not doing museum and palaces?
Criminy. Just walk around and appreciate the architecture and the beauty of Paris. It's singular. Just immerse yourself in it and learn.
Thank you for the suggestions. Is May 1 a major holiday? I would like to go to a park or cemetary but maybe not warm enough and rain.
May 1 is a major holiday.
Websites will say if the place is closed (Louvre, d’Orsay, Picasso, Pompidou, whatever). You can check ahead so that you know what your options will be.
On May 1st are cafes and bakeries closed too, or is the whole city closed down. Doesn't seem likely.
More things are closed on May 1 than on most other holidays — it’s one of the big 3, along with Christmas and New Year’s Day.
This year it happens to fall on a Sunday, when some places are closed anyway.
Will everything be closed ? No.
Will everything be open? No.
Do you perhaps need to make a plan and think about things in advance given the number of closures that there will be ? Yes, and you are doing that by looking into it now.
I enjoyed walking through these interesting places, and they are wonderful for photographing! Passage Verdeau, Galerie Vivienne, and Passage des Panoramas
I think exploring Paris Montmartre is made for rainy days, and stop into a cafe for something warm to drink if you’re chilled.
And this comment may be affected by my 30 years of living in Seattle area, but I wouldn’t let rain keep me from enjoying a city, especially on vacation. Put on a raincoat & go. You can still walk through gardens….although you might want to be ready to make a dash - remembering a heavy downpour one day in August when I was in the middle of Paris’ Luxembourg Garden, taking a few selfies in my dress & sandals! LOL!
Another option is to ride some of the buses around the city, or check the weather at nearby cities and take a short train ride to them, i,e, Chartres, Nancy, Tours.
We really enjoyed hopping into a baking or cooking class. La Cuisine does awesome classes in English. Exploring the covered passages is also great. Or just duck in and out of some amazing churches. I'm not religious myself but they were still wonderful to see. We even caught some of the organ players practicing. But honestly, just walking around is great in the rain. You will have the gardens to yourself and you can always warm up on one of the heated terraces with a drink. Les Antiquaires near Musee D'Orsay was my favorite for a hot wine or a hot chocolate.
Link to an article explaining the different covered passages: https://worldinparis.com/covered-passages-of-paris
Here is a link for a map of the covered passages: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1Qk9GAajXiHYw9Bx4QBZcn6gvCtDqU5U2&ll=48.87009872167403%2C2.342984099999965&z=16
Churches worth a visit: Saint Severin, Saint-Germain-des-Pres Abbey, Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, Sacre Coeur, Sainte Chapelle (of course). There are a ton (link for the most beautiful churches): https://www.thegeographicalcure.com/post/paris-most-beautiful-churches
Like Jean, my 2 daughters granddaughter and I had a rainy day and decided on the Grand Passages. Had a wonderful time.
This info also has a map.
Thanks for all these great ideas!
I Googled and found some articles addressing this topic. They are not from this year, so they are not the final word, but perhaps they will highlight some good possibilities for you to check out via the sights' own websites.
https://www.familinparis.fr/en/opening-museum-paris/ (Date unknown.)
In general (haven't been to Paris recently), I've found churches are often open on holidays.
Take a self-guided walking tour and be prepared for rain.
Acraven, those are great links, very helpful.
A very cool thing on May Day are all the little stands selling bouquets of lily of the valley. Last time I was in Paris on May Day there were charity type stalls (local ambulance service, etc) selling as well as regular florists.
Rick has a handy list in his book of which museums are open when, it's a little like calculus but you can always find a plan B.
In a pinch, take his recommended bus to Pere Lachaise, I assume the dead are always available.
You can go to the Basilica Cathedral of St. Denis.
Parks, chocolate shops, pastry shops, walk to the mini Statue of Liberty on Île aux Cygnes (Swan Island), visit Père-Lachaise cemetery, Luxembourg gardens, stroll the Champs-Élysées between the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde, or walk the Montmartre/Sacré-Cœur area. If you’re a fan of Emily in Paris walk by the apartment and restaurant used in the series.