Paris is worth visiting every day of the year, but here are 10 reasons why fall might be the city’s best season.
Paris is worth visiting every day of the year, but here are 10 reasons why fall might be the city’s best season. Now that the locals have returned to the city after their August holidays in Provence and Corsica, the city seems more alive and exciting than ever. Add beautiful fall colors, sunny weather that’s still going strong (for now), and about a million different cafe terraces to choose from, and you’ll understand why fall is the perfect time to plan your Parisian getaway
1. IT'S LESS CROWDED.
When high season in Paris is over and the hordes of people in front of every single monument in the city are less extreme, it’s undeniably more enjoyable to experience the city—especially as a first-time visitor. Those two hour–long waits to get up the Arc de Triumph or Notre Dame dwindle; even the sidewalks suddenly feel emptier (you don’t have to worry about hitting someone every time you swing your bag over your shoulder).
The Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal is right next to one of the loveliest parks in Paris, the Palais-Royal Gardens (pictured). The hotel's location really is hard to beat, especially during chillier days when you don’t want to walk too far—in this case, both the Louvre and the famous Rue Saint-Honoré shopping street are your neighbors. (4 rue de Valois, 75001 Paris)
3. YOU CAN EXPERIENCE THE CITY AS A LOCAL.
Strolling the streets of Paris in the fall will make you feel more like a local than if you visit in other seasons. You can walk among the true Parisians picking up their baguettes for breakfast or running errands in the Marais, rather than getting stuck behind a tour group in neon yellow vests on Île Saint-Louis. When high season is over it’s easier to blend in—and perhaps even be mistaken for a Parisian! Bundle up with darker colored jackets, and always be sure to wear a scarf and a cool pair of boots (if you really want to do it the Parisian way, check out our tips for dressing like a French woman).
4. IT'S HOT CHOCOLATE SEASON.
What’s the best thing to do once the leaves start to fall off the trees and the temperatures start to dip? Cuddle up with an interesting book while nibbling on some scones with jam and a cup of warm tea or hot chocolate. Luckily, this is exactly what you can do at Merci’s Used Book Café, pictured. You're also in the city that never runs out of chocolate treats or delicious Nutella crêpes. The colder weather makes for the perfect excuse to swing by Angelina for a take-away cup of their famous hot chocolate or to warm up your hands with a warm crêpe while strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries. For anyone with an extra-soft spot for chocolate, Les Marquis de Ladurée and Patrick Roger (a great place for dark chocolate) are two shops you shouldn’t miss out on while in Paris.
No season is as beautiful as autumn is in Paris (maybe spring—if it doesn’t rain nonstop, that is). The city takes on hues that seem to belong in watercolor paintings, and the parks of Paris turn yellow, orange, and bright red. The most photogenic season of the year looks exceptionally good in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Places des Vosges, Jardin des Tuileries, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, and Parc Monceau.
6. BIKINI SEASON IS OVER.
Bikini season is over, which will probably make you feel better about gaining an extra pound or two—and there’s no better city to indulge in than in Paris. Pastries are beautifully lined up in every other window along the streets of Paris, and escaping the chilly outdoors is always a great excuse to stop by for a treat or two. If you’re in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, Un Dimanche à Paris serves up deliciously prepared pastries, which look more like small pieces of art than anything else. If you happen to find yourself in the Marias, it’s never a bad decision to stop by Café Pouchkine for their heavily macarons, or Rose Bakery for their yummy cakes.
There’s no better time to finally visit Versailles than during the fall. The gardens never look as pretty as they do during autumn—the park now resembles a vivid watercolor painting. If it gets too chilly to enjoy the outdoors, then there are more than enough things to see inside the breathtaking palace.
8. YOU CAN ACTUALLY ENJOY OUTDOOR TERRACES.
In the summer, it can be extremely hard to come across a free table at your favorite neighborhood café. Don’t worry—when autumn comes, the tables get much easier to snag. Yes, sometime it is too cold to sit outside and you’ll want to do indoor dining instead, but the Parisians love their terraces so much, they’ll do their very best to make the outdoor space as warm and inviting as possible. Under outdoor heaters with a warm blanket and some tea, outdoor seating can actually be enjoyed during most parts of the year.
9. IT’S LESS EXPENSIVE.
Autumn is often a less expensive time to travel. You can probably find a couple of tickets, or that hotel room you’ve been eyeing for a while, for a cheaper price than you would during the summer craziness or the winter holidays.
10. EVERYTHING IS OPEN.
During August and December, many places will close for the holidays, which means that a lot of the restaurants, shops, and cafés you’ve been dying to visit while in Paris might be impossible to actually try. During autumn, on the other hand, the venues are most likely open as normal (be sure to watch out for Sundays and Mondays though, since those days can be exceptions in Paris).