I love Paris in the fall. I particularly love the City of Light in October, but as the rest of the song goes, “I love Paris every moment of the year.” It really is such a magical city with outdoor cafes, cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, world famous museums and endless things to do.
There are fewer tourists in the fall and I especially enjoy the relaxed and cozy vibe the city takes on. Of course, you can’t miss the fall colors. In this guide, I’ll share travel tips and the top things to do in Paris in the fall.
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When to Visit: Paris in the Fall Travel Tips
Fall is the perfect time to travel, and Paris is no exception. I’m lucky to have been to Paris five times in September or October. There are fewer tourists in Paris in the fall than the crowded summer months. From public transportation to walking along the Seine, you’ll appreciate the city with a few less people.
September is still quite busy. There’s a certain energy in the city in September after Parisians have returned from their summer holidays (the seaside town of Biarritz is a popular destination). Have you seen the meme/reel where Europeans are all out of office for the month of August? It’s not an exaggeration.
“Rentrée” is the “re-entry” of the locals into the city after summer vacation. After living in Naples, Italians also have this annual sentiment. An Italian described September to me as being refreshed and ready to begin again. He was, of course, gesticulating and had the most emphatic expression, like he was experiencing a third quarter New Year. I don’t know if the French are quite as passionate, but the feeling is still palpable.
Even though there are fewer tourists, I would still recommend making reservations at restaurants and booking museums in advance. Travel is more popular than ever and it feel like there is no shoulder season anymore.
Paris fashion week is usually the last week of September. So if you are visiting at this time, you might get a peek at models, influencers, etc., but that also means you should make reservations early if you have any trendy restaurants on your itinerary.
While you’re not going to get any deep discounts on hotel rooms, I think October lends itself to some savings compared to July. This is a post on pet friendly hotels as I usually traveled with my dog, but they are all hotels I would recommend in general as well.
Things to do in Paris in the Fall
When it’s too cold to have a picnic on the banks of the Seine, you’ll be spoiled for choice of indoor museums to visit. You could spend weeks in Paris and not visit them all.
Of course, the Louvre is the most famous, but don’t forget about more intimate museums like the Rodin Museum and Musée Carnavalet. Not only is Musée Carnavalet free to enter, there’s also a beautiful ivy courtyard.
I also highly recommend visiting the Musee d’Orsay on Thursday nights (open until 9:45pm).
Enjoy the Fall Colors
Fall colors are everywhere, but head to Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries for a park full of them. The leaves scattered on the ground throughout the city is something so special.
Place Dauphine is so calming in the fall and the leaves are just starting to turn in early October. Has anyone else
bawled their eyes out seen Me Before you? Visiting this square is a must in any season.
To be sure, Paris is filled with endless options for shopping. Spending more time indoors isn’t a bad thing when the weather is cooler. From vintage shops to jaw dropping department stores (I’m looking at you Samaritaine and Galeries Lafayette), you are sure to find something special.
You can’t miss the bouquinistes stands along the Seine selling old books, vintage maps, posters and postcards. They are usually closed when it is raining, so hopefully you get a few sunny days during your stay.
While Sézane ships their French fashion pieces worldwide, they also have several homey boutiques with their flagship store located in Paris. Stop by for peek in this beautiful shop and pick up one of their signature pieces of knitwear or leather handbags in person. Sometimes there will be a line around the block to get in to this popular store, but I have always had good luck in the fall with no lines to enter.
Take a Day Trip
Versailles gardens are absolutely beautiful in October. Plus unlike in the summer months, you won’t be sweating as you walk through the endless gardens. Don’t miss the Queen’s Hamlet! These cottages are so charming with fall foliage to match.
Since Versailles is a famous attraction year round, you’ll want to buy your ticket ahead of time or book a tour. The Chateau Versailles has extensive information to help plan your day trip.
While Versailles is the most popular day trip from Paris, Giverny is another great option. The town is a short distance from Paris and is home to Monet’s famous pond with water lilies. The gardens are probably beautiful in spring as well, but they are quite charming in the fall.
Cozy Up in a Restaurant
During the pandemic, my husband and I frequently talked about how we longed to be enjoying a meal in a cozy, warm brasserie. While sitting outside at a restaurant and watching the world go by is how I love to spend the day when it’s warm, there is something romantic and nostalgic about the dimly lit indoor restaurants of Paris. Read my Paris Travel Guide for restaurants I love.
Wine Festival in Montmartre
Every year in the 18th arrondissement you’ll find the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre. The festival takes place over 5 days, from October 11th -15th, 2023 with opportunities to visit Le Clos Montmartre vineyard, sample wine and enjoy live music.
I had planned to go to the annual wine festival last time I was in Paris. I severely underestimated the popularity and couldn’t get an Uber. We were with the in laws and didn’t have time for public transportation, so we made other plans. All to say, make ample time to get up to Montmartre if you plan to attend. It’s still on my bucket list!