#1 - Witness the grape harvest festival in Montmartre
Every year since 1934, the arrival of autumn has heralded great festivities in Montmartre. Taking place on the second weekend of October, the Fête du Vendange (Grape Harvest Festival) unites the community of Paris’ 18th arrondissement to celebrate the vineyards and the Montmartre area. The popular event involves vineyard tours, picnics, exhibitions, concerts and communal parades… a great chance to explore the eight districts of this iconic part of Paris and celebrate the arrival of autumn.
#2 - Take afternoon tea at Hotel Meurice
There’s no doubt about it: the teatime menu at the Meurice will offer some comfort as the days shorten and a freshness sets in in Paris. Comfortably settled in Dali, the restaurant nestled at the heart of the Hotel Meurice, you’ll feast your eyes and tastebuds on an avalanche of sweet treats and French delicacies. There’s an assortment of sandwiches, a farandole of scones and a string of pastries by Cédric Grolet, all accompanied by tea, coffee or hot chocolate... you’ll completely forget that summer’s over.
Also read: like a local at these 6 classic Parisian hotels.
#3 - Connect with your inner child in parks and gardens
With 2,300 hectares of green space spread across the capital, Paris is one of the most outdoorsy cities in Europe. From leafy squares to the vast forested areas, and from hidden gardens to contemporary parks, each of the 500 listed green spaces has its share of chestnut, hazel and plane trees – and their fallen leaves carpet the ground in colour from the end of August. In addition to the many activities on offer in autumn, there’s nothing like crunching through thousands of red and golden leaves to reconnect with childhood.
Also read: Never visited the Eiffel Tower? Here’s why you should in 2019
#4 - Take a tour of the Maison Plisson
The motto of La Maison Plisson? You can eat well all year, whatever the season. Autumn is a chance for foodies to rediscover the flavours of forgotten vegetables, quality seasonal fruit and carefully selected charcuterie. In close collaboration with French producers, the Maison Plisson’s choice of products combines responsible production with the pleasures of food, in line with the philosophy of its founder Delphine Plisson. At the start of autumn you can enjoy ‘Cul Noir’ ham from Limousin, perfectly ripe cheeses and fresh Solliès figs… delicious products that will quash that hankering for summer.
#5 - Visit a major exhibition
Autumn traditionally marks the return of culture in France, and this time every year sees the start of numerous major exhibitions. It’s tricky to provide an exhaustive list as the choice is constantly evolving, but among the big-hitters are Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre – commemorating 500 years since his death – and a retrospective dedicated to El Greco at the Grand Palais, a first in France for this little-known artist. At the Musée d’Orsay, you can dive into the fascinating world of the opera through the eyes of Degas, who depicted all the spaces. And head to the Louis Vuitton Foundation to admire the abundant work of Charlotte Perriand, a liberated woman and renowned French architect.
Read more about Paris’ must-see exhibitions here and here.
#6 - Sample local produce at the market
Due to its seasonality, French cuisine is always full of surprises. Farewell summer fruits and sun-ripened vegetables – and welcome shellfish, cabbage, squash, mushrooms and other autumn delights. Market stalls become a theatre of ingredients for hot quiches, veloutés, gratins and other dishes ideal for when the first frosts descend. You’ll find a market somewhere in Paris every day, where you can sample all the tasty seasonal products.
#7 - Wander around the Fête d’Automne
A multi-disciplinary artistic event, the Festival d’Automne (Autumn Festival) has been running since 1972, each year showcasing the talents of contemporary artists on the international stage. Involving music, cinema, theatre and dance, around 50 events are put on for the festival between September and December. And what’s special about this major event? It moves from place to place. From the Pompidou Centre to the Musée d'Orsay via CentQuatre, the Grande Halle de la Villette and the Théâtre de la Bastille, some 40 emblematic venues in Paris and Île-de-France host the event in turn, entertaining visiting culture vultures and ending the year on a lighthearted note.