Essential Things to See and Do in Paris in the Fall

Take the charms of Paris, factor in autumn’s mellow colors, plus an art world and restaurant scene waking up after the summer, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to book a trip.

The banks of the Seine in Paris in autumn.

Fall paints Paris multiple shades of orange and yellow.

Photo by Jean Luc Ichard / Shutterstock

Time to wrap it up, mes amies. It’s officially scarf season in Paris. Let me rephrase: It’s officially functional scarf season in Paris. The leaves are crisp, there’s a chill in the air, and Parisians are huddled over their wine on terraces. There’s also a flurry of notable art, hotel, and restaurant activity, so book your tables and tickets, grab a room at any number of swanky new properties, and come hungry for culture, cuisine, and more.

Things to do in Paris in the fall

Autumn in the French capital always brings new exhibitions and events at venues across the city—and this year is no exception.

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, located near the Louvre, kicks off a pre-Olympics frenzy in fall 2023 with Mode et Sport (Fashion and Sport), an exhibit highlighting athletic designs through the years from brands such as Lacoste, Chanel, Lanvin, Schiaparelli, and more. It runs through April 7, 2024.

Mode et Sport, an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Lacoste, Lanvin et al are celebrated at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs until April 2024.

Photo by Christophe Dellière / Scenography © Les Arts Décoratifs

If you prefer your fashion with less elastic, the Palais Galliera presents Azzedine Alaïa: Couturier and Collection through January 2024, featuring the Tunisian designer’s never-before-seen personal assemblage of haute couture pieces from the likes of Balenciaga and Vionnet.

Van Gogh (pronounced, locally, as “Van Gog”) spent much of his life in France, and October sees the opening of an expo honoring the denouement of the Dutch painter’s life titled Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: The Final Months. Seek out those haystacks and his infamous Church at Auvers at the Musée d’Orsay through February 4.

Contemporary art enthusiasts can get their fix from international galleries around the globe; for the second year in a row, they will gather at the Grand Palais Éphémère and various galleries around town to participate in Paris+ by Art Basel, October 18 through 22.

Collectors who seek more bespoke experiences from Paris’s own gallerists, such as Thaddaeus Ropac and Marianne Goodman, might consider a private tour with The Seen, which this fall celebrates a year of being on . . . the scene. Itineraries often include a meal at a popular new restaurant, expert-led curation, and, of course, champagne.

Starting October 17 through March 3, the Rodin Museum will present Critical Mass, an expo featuring the work of British sculptor Antony Gormley, whose life-size sculptures will be spread throughout the property among those by Rodin.

American artists get their due this season, too, thanks to a production of West Side Story opening at the Chatelet Theater October 20 and running through December 31 (performed in English with French subtitles). The Opera Garnier, meanwhile (currently covered in scaffolding, FYI), honors dancer and choroegrapher Jerome Robbins with special performances from his repertoire October 24 to November 10.

Where to shop

Paris’s distinct neighborhoods house all manner of singular shops ripe for autumnal exploration; you’ll find books, shoes, skincare, and more across its arrondissements.

This year marks 380 years of Trudon, the famed French candle manufacturer that once supplied the royal court. For those with a deep love of diffusers and scent-sationally priced bougies, visit the brand’s flagship stores for the special Tuileries collection made for the occasion with notes of pink peppercorn, mandarin, and black currant.

Beauty shop Officine Universelle Buly has been making us all smell like rose and orange blossom for some time now (not to mention creating queues to do so), but the literary-minded can rejoice now, too: Buly co-owner Ramdane Touhami opened a bookstore, La Pharmacie des Âmes, aka a “pharmacy for the soul,” over on the Left Bank.

Sure, you’ve come to Paris, not Tokyo. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a break from croissants at iRasshai, the newly opened, bi-level culinary concept shop highlighting cuisine, culture, and kitchen tools from the Land of the Rising Sun. Shop for Japanese curries to make at home or snag a stool to enjoy a “matchaffogatto”—like an affogato, but (you guessed it!) made with matcha.

Eating and drinking in Paris in the fall

The city’s most notable new debut is, in fact, an encore: Ratatouille’s kitchen and dining room, aka La Tour d’Argent, has gotten a facelift—and maintained its Michelin star in the process. Those willing to fork up €150 (US$157) for lunch, or €360 (US$377) for dinner (prices are per person), can expect forkfuls of exquisite cuisine served in a stunning space that blends its historic, multi-generational roots with the present day. The views overlooking the whole of Paris may be worth the splurge alone.

Speaking of maintaining elegance through the years, the Ritz just celebrated its 125th anniversary and gave us a new fine dining restaurant called Espadon (that’s swordfish for those who don’t parler Francais). Michelin-starred chef Eugénie Béziat is drawing on flavors from her childhood in Africa and summers spent in Provence.

Newer hotels get in on the prestige restaurant action this fall with star cooks at the helm: First, French chef Dominique Crenn, who found fame in California, opened Golden Poppy at La Fantaisie, which is her first Parisian address. The pescatarian menu served in a vibrant, flower-adorned dining room exudes a passion for the Pacific with the likes of abalone tacos on the menu. Over in the Marais, across from BHV department store, Israeli chef Assaf Granit pays hommage to his Ashkenazi upbringing with Boubalé, featuring a menu that highlights traditional Eastern European cuisine with a twist in an atmosphere that’s halfway between Wes Anderson’s lair and Alice’s Wonderland.

For foodies with less of an appetite for fanfare, but hungry for quality cuisine in no-frills environments, the ardoise (blackboards) at Le Goncourt and Fugazi feature dishes that will sate any gourmand traversing the Atlantic to eat and drink their weight in seasonally minded plates. For a bit more style, but still lacking white tablecloths and a dress code, try Godaille, in the 12th arrondissement; its mid-day prix fixe can’t be beat at €30. The six-course seafood tasting by Israeli Ohad Amzallag at Guefen in the Marais will be the dinner you’ll be bragging to your friends about for some time.

Hotel El Dorado in Paris.

Looking for a boutique hotel that feels like a friend’s house in a vibey neighborhood? Try El Dorado in the 17th arrondissement.

Photo by Benoit Linero

Where to stay in Paris

Swedish interior architect and designer Martin Brudnizki’s passion for colorful patterns, prints, and panache is revealed once again at Le Grand Mazarin across from BHV department store in the Marais. There’s a wonderland of whimsy in its 50 rooms and 11 suites, from lobster-adorned wallpaper and leopard-print floorboard to tapestry bed canopies, Dyptique toiletries, and vibrant custom frescoes—including above the heated pool. When the swanky, underground cabaret opens below its Eastern European Boubalé restaurant later in 2023, you won’t be able to capture any of it because phones are not permitted. Some things, thankfully, remain sacred.

For anyone coming and going from Gare de l’Est or Gare du Nord for travels further in France, the newly opened Bloom House, with golden tones remnant of a Mallorcan summer, is a lovely setting for a Parisian pause. Some of the 91 rooms offer views of Montmartre and Sacré Coeur to the north, whereas the lower-level pool makes for a unique place to retreat after some remote work in one of the property’s many inviting communal spaces.

The 17th arrondissement, and its charming Batignolles neighborhood, is a bit like a well-kept secret for Parisian locals to go about their business sans les touristes. Boutique hotels, like the newly reimagined 26-room El Dorado, will hopefully help maintain the mystery with its discreet, but stunning aesthetic that feels less like a hotel and more like a friend’s very fancy residence.

When it opens before the end of the year in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the 34-key Villa-des-Prés will be a haven for minimalist design lovers who crush on neutrals and natural textiles (think wooden walls and leather bedframes). Consider it a bona fide sanctuary for relaxing after a long day out touring, eating, and shopping—complete with an indoor pool, fitness room, sauna, and treatment rooms.

This article originally appeared online in 2019; it was most recently updated on October 5, 2023, to include current information.

Sara Lieberman is a New York–born journalist who lived in Paris for the better part of the last decade. Her writing also appears in Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Hemispheres, and the Infatuation.
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