Plan your trip now – for next year – because Autumn in Paris is truly one of this city’s most splendid times of year. Yes, its crowded, yes its high season and you’ll need to book ahead of time to get the great apartment rentals or hotels. Nevertheless, fall in the city of light has so very much to offer.
This month begins with the Rentrée (back to school) and the start up of all things forgotten from the summer (school, jobs, etc.). Big blockbuster museum openings, gallery vernissages (openings) and the spectacular all night art fair that is Nuit Blanche are on the menu. The Jours de Patrimonie (history days) take place during this month when a lot of state-owned buildings are open to the public. This doesn’t sound as exciting as it is….getting in to see the Assemblée Nationale (their congress/parliament building) is thrilling because it is visually stunning!
At the end of September the city is flooded with people in crazy colored hair and fantastical outfits racing to and fro for Paris’ fashion week. Most mere mortals won’t have a snowballs chance in hell in getting in to see a show but its still a fun time to be in Paris.
October is nearly ideal is Paris, the weather rotates from warm 75-ish to 50-ish and (10-24 Celsius). Trees are starting to turn color and leaves begin falling. But true to form Parisians are still sitting outside, sipping coffee and smoking on terraces. Now days they might be peering into their i-phone rather than reading or writing but essentially things haven’t changed much and I always enjoy the fact that terrace sitting in the cooler weather is continued with gusto, heaters or not.
Now is the time of year when you can again order a big charcuterie plate, many cheeses to sample and even cassoulet on a cooler night. French food marries perfectly with colder weather. The last vineyards in Paris in Montmartre are what set the scene for the Vendanges à Montmartre, the wine festival in Montmarte, which lasts all weekend. No the wine isn’t any good, but its still a sight to behold watching the parades of locales in ancient dress. And after a few glasses you forget that the wine isn’t a beautiful Bordeaux.
The FIAC, Paris’ international art fair takes place in October. This is the chance for French art collectors to buy as well as the rest of us to see what’s happening worldwide on the contemporary art scene. Held at the Grand Palais, the space is chock-a-block with gallerists that have flown in from all parts of the world including; France, United States, Germany, Sweden and beyond. They have now expanded the fair to include smaller and more affordable galleries at the Docks en Scene, Mode & Design building located in the 13th. Cleverly they have offered a navette (boat ride) to the contemporary building when you purchase your ticket making seeing both much more pleasurable.
This month is dedicated to photography, it’s the Mois de la Photographie in Paris. You’ll enjoy seeing photography inside and out of doors all over the city. Then fasten your seat belts for the Beaujolais Nouveau night, which happens on Thursday November 20th this year and the entire town goes into a Beaujolais trance. Drunk young, the inferior Beaujolais wine makers created this night many years ago as a marketing ploy. Nevertheless I’ve learned over the years two things: 1) there are some drinkable even good Beaujolais’ and 2) Go out and party with the rest of them on the night in question because its another excuse to celebrate something entirely French. Head to the nostalgic La Bonne Franquette, a guingette that Van Gogh frequented in Montmartre to get your party on or the Bistro Paul Bert in the 11th known for their superb bistro fare for more than a few sips of the light red wine.
A happening that covers the entire period is the Paris Autumn Festival which consists of dance, cinema, art and music held at different venues throughout the city from the beginning of September to the end of December, everyone can find something here that is of interest. Catch Robert Wilson’s choreography of Les Nègres until November 21st at the Odeon Theatre. As you can see Fall in Paris is exciting, these three months have something for everyone from fashion to art, photography, wine, and history – so if you haven’t planned a trip yet, get cracking for next year – book your vacation apartment or hotel early because they will sell out.
Jours de Patrimonie
Paris Fashion Week
Beaujolais Nouveau (where to taste in Paris)
Paris Autumn Festival
Les Nègres at the Odeon