Visiting Paris in Autumn

Close your eyes. Imagine a trip to Paris in autumn. The leaves crunch on the streets; a light breeze caresses your hair; a palate of red and yellow tones surround you as you walk along the banks of the Seine under a light rain…

Hang on… are we in a Woody Allen movie? It may be romantic, but it’s chock full of clichés! Still, traveling to Paris in autumn may be the perfect time to take advantage of the city brimming with urbanity, as a cultural reawakening, featuring a host of different events, sets the capital aglow.

What to do in Paris during Autumn?

Autumn isn’t just about back-to-school in Paris; it’s also a time when culture snaps back after summer! Take advantage of the European Cultural Heritage Days, which take place during the third weekend of September. It’s the perfect occasion to visit museums and monuments all over the city, which open their doors and allow you to discover certain hidden gems that you can’t see the rest of the year. Personal residences, archives, ministries and the backstage areas of theaters welcome the public, and even the National Assembly opens its doors to discovery!

If your trip brings you to Paris in October, don’t miss a very Parisian event: Nuit Blanche or White Night. This evening takes place during the first weekend of October, from Saturday night to Sunday morning. Artistic displays are ripe for exploration throughout the city, as Paris comes alive at night. Performances take place in locales that are usually closed to the public, and you can wander through the city center, amidst a myriad of activities to discover.

If you visit Paris in autumn, you can’t miss the Autumn Festival, which combines theater, dance, music and cinema in famous parts of the capital. Its rich avant-garde program takes place from September to December and has attracted thousands of visitors every year since 1972. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of contemporary art in a classic milieu, rich with history.

If contemporary art is of interest to you, the FIAC (foire internationale d’art contemporain) will claim your attention in October. This international contemporary art fair is the place to meet the most important people in contemporary art today. Gallery owners, collectors and curators meet at the Grand Palais and other locations outside its walls (the Louvre, the Tuileries gardens and the Jardin des Plantes, amongst others). Meet and mingle with them and discover up-and-coming artists, and feel like you’re a part of the international art scene yourself. And who knows? Maybe you’ll start your own collection!

A visit to Père Lachaise, a cemetery nestled on a wooded hill in the 11th arrondissement, is the perfect location for an autumn walk. Discovering it with a guide can a fascinating experience.

Localers' collection of walking tours, wine tastings and cooking classes provides something for everyone during the autumn season.

Discovering Paris during Autumn

You can travel to Paris in autumn without being a contemporary art fanatic. When you’ve had enough of cultural festivals, you can also take advantage of other events, such as a number of different professional salons and culinary festivals linked to the harvest.

While the festivals are seemingly unending in number, we have a few favorites. The fête des vendanges à Montmartre (at the beginning of the month of October) celebrates the harvest of Montmartre’s very own wine grapes. The salon du chocolat or professional chocolate salon takes place at Porte de Versailles in the second half of the month. In November, the fête du Beaujolais nouveau brings people to bars and bistros throughout the city on the third Thursday of the month, to taste the year’s new Beaujolais wine. For a relaxing event, the fête des jardins or festival of parks offers surprises and activities in the parks and gardens all over Paris during the last weekend of September. So get some fresh air, and discover the harvest… Parisian style!

To get back into shape after these culinary events, you can also take advantage of several activities geared towards the great outdoors, like the parisienne, a footrace reserved for women, les foulées du Luxembourg, which takes place in the Luxembourg gardens, or la traversée de Paris en aviron, a row boat race on the Seine. Tennis fans won’t easily forget that the Paris Masters takes place at Bercy at the end of October or beginning of November!

And if you’re continuing your stay after the end of November, you’ll have the chance to take advantage of the city’s Christmas decorations, which will start to appear at the beginning of December. The Champs Elysées are lit up with a thousand lights, and a stroll along the avenue can only be described as magical… even blasé Parisians will agree! Isn’t it a wonderful way to step into wintertime in the City of Lights?

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