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Why You Should Go to Paris This Fall

By Sara Lieberman

10.09.19

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The fall foliage in Paris is beautiful, and there are many other reasons to travel there this time of year.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

The fall foliage in Paris is beautiful, and there are many other reasons to travel there this time of year.

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

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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 the already tight terraces. There’s also a flurry of notable art, wine, and restaurant activity, so book your tables and timed tickets, grab a room at any number of swanky new boutique hotels, and come hungry for culture, cuisine, and more. 

Seek your master

The Louvre’s Leonard da Vinci show—so comprehensive and far-reaching that it took 10 years to pull off—opens October 24 and runs through February. The exhibit, in honor of the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death, will feature paintings, drawings, and sketches on loan from collections around the world. (AFAR partner Context Travel is offering a special guided tour of the exhibit with an art historian who will dive further into da Vinci’s legacy.)

If you prefer a little quirk with your Renaissance master, urban artists from around the globe such as Swoon, Blu, and Bom.K will pay homage to the big man at Paris’s new floating art museum, Fluctuart. The museum’s second temporary exhibit, Veni, Vidi, Vinci, is intended as a companion to the Louvre retrospective. (November 7–April 20)

Not one to be overshadowed by the Louvre, the Grand Palais will open Resolutely Modern on October 9, a major exhibition about Montmartre darling Toulouse-Lautrec. The collection will go beyond the artist’s cheeky cabaret posters for the Moulin Rouge and take a deeper look at his inspirations.  (Through January 27)

Fans of Degas have until January 19 to dance their way through the Degas à l’Opéra, which opened last month at the Musée d’Orsay. The collection focuses on the artist’s fascination with the Paris Opéra and includes works depicting its stage, foyers, rehearsal halls, and auditorium.

There’s still time to back that thing up to the Musée Bourdelle’s striking collection of fashion focusing on the backside. Dos de la Mode features exquisite designs from the likes of The Row, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga, juxtaposed against Bourdelle’s sculptures. (Through November 17

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If hip-hop and electro pop are what you’re after, the annual Pitchfork Music Festival comes to the Grand Hall de la Villette in north Paris on October 31 for three nights. For its ninth edition, the fest promises a more “urban sounding, avant-garde lineup” with 50 different artists like Chromatics, Belle & Sebastian, and Agar Agar, on four stages.

When all the seats are at the counter, as at Shabour, the chefs become the show.

Taste and toast all over town  

Remember how everyone insisted that you eat at Clown Bar a few years ago? Well, that was because of chef Soto Atsumi, who left a while back to plan a new project. Maison is finally open in the 11th arrondissement, Paris’s destination for les gourmands. Should you be lucky enough to score a table, expect a 55€ (US$60) tasting menu at lunch or 140€ (US$153) at dinner (though à la carte is an option, too), featuring seasonal dishes that follow Atsumi’s boundary-pushing approach to Japanese-French fusion. (The cook gained his reputation with a dish of ginger-soy-and-yuzu-infused veal brains.) 

The team behind the giddily popular Balagan just opened another Israeli joing, Shabour. At this newest collaboration, the chefs also sing and dance and send around shots to accompany your baba ghanoush but Shabour’s counter-only seating means all diners sit facing the action, so consider this dinner and a show.

The success of Daroco, the pizza palace located in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s former atelier near the French stock exchange, inspired Daroco 16. With a similar menu, but a heftier selection of “secondi” and risottos, this new address also features a high mirrored ceiling and a fresco painted by French artists Supakitch and Koralie.

In Search of Proust in Paris

Regulars of Yard Bistro in the 11th arrondisement are having to shift their allegiances across the river to follow chef Baptiste Trudel to Mordu, where he’s moving and taking the small plates trend with him. Expect the likes of Tahitian tuna served with hazelnuts and chanterelles, or grilled octopus with kimchi and yogurt. 

Those in search of a classic French meal in a more upscale setting should book at table at the new iteration of Jules Verne, which reopened atop the Eiffel Tower in July. Chef Frédéric Anton has replaced Alain Ducasse and is offering a five- or seven-course degustation menu showcasing dishes like curry crab with Granny Smith apples, or langoustine ravioli in a creamy Parmesan sauce.

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Wine is the focus at Le Bristol this fall. In celebration of chef Eric Frechon’s 20 years at the helm of the restaurant in this luxury palace hotel, guests are invited to “Wine Mondays.” Each week, sommelier director Bernard Neveu will reveal an exclusive vintage from the depths of the hotel’s cave (stocked with over 60,000 bottles!) to be paired with a four-course meal from the Michelin-starred kitchen, led by Monsieur Frechon.

Early fall is also the time for the annual Fête des Vendanges. The harvest festival is held from October 9 to 13 up at the city’s very own vineyards in Montmartre. Later comes November’s beaujolais nouveau celebration, during which Parisians guzzle young gamay like it’s grape juice. 

Check into a true “escape room”

Sinner, a new property from Evok Hotels, opened in the Marais in July, with a design by Tristan Auer, who helped jazz up the Hotel de Crillon. The hotel gives off decidedly devilish vibes—complete with dark hallways lit by stained-glass windows, lots of church elements employed in Goth-cheeky ways, and a candlelit “crypt” opposite the reception desk.

If you’re feeling more nice than naughty, head east to Evok’s even newer property, Cour des Vosges, a 12-room hôtel particulier (private townhouse) just off the Place des Vosges. In addition to views over the famous square, rooms also feature kitchenettes, making them great for longer stays or for traveling with children.

This November, the cool Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood gets a new 85-room hotel, Le Grand Quartier, with a courtyard garden, rooftop terrace, and fitness studios. Plus, Romain Le Mouëllic and Sullivan Doh of nearby bar Le Syndicat curated the hotel’s cocktail list, while Thomas Lehoux of local roaster La Brûlerie de Belleville is handling the morning coffee.

Long known for properties located in neighborhoods outside city centers, Mama Paris West will debut in the 15th arrondissement near the Porte de Versailles Expo Center this December, making it a great option for those visiting on business. Its 207 rooms promise to adhere to all the brand’s hip prerequisites, such as subway tiles, funky patterned carpets, and open closet spaces.

Finally, Italian hotelier J.K. Place will debut its long-awaited Paris destination location by year-end, featuring 30 guest rooms outfitted with marble bathrooms (finished with mother of pearl), custom-made furniture flown in from Italy, and decorative gems from Paris’s Marché aux Puces vintage market. 

>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Paris Travel Guide

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