Hidden bistros, glorious patisseries, stunning architecture & more culture than you can shake a baguette at, this is our guide to visiting our favourite European city – Paris.
Why autumn? In our experience this is when the locals return from their holidays and the waterfall of tourists dries up, apart from at the Eifel tower – that’s always awful – making it the perfect time to soak in all the culture & cheap red wine the Big Pomme has to offer.
There is one drawback to autumn, being only a hop, skip and Eurostar away, unfortunately the French climate is very similar to the English, a bit pants, so forget chic – dress warm & waterproof. Oh, and put that beret down.
What to do:
1. Festival D’Automne
Every year the Autumn Festival programmes almost 50 different multidisciplinary artistic productions for over 50,000 spectators. Taking place at key locations around the city, the festival has something for everyone with everything from a cinematic retrospective of the fascinating Marguerite Duras at the Pompidou Centre to a radical ballet, performed naked.
Visit the official website (Google should translate it for you) for more information and tickets: http://www.festival-automne.com/
2. La Nuit Blanche
Arguably our favourite evening in Paris all year-round, La Nuit Blanche is an all-night festival that turns the city itself into an exhibition. With galleries and cultural institutions staying open (and, as a bonus – not charging anything for entry) late into the night.
Each year, an ever-evolving group of artistic directors art attack different sections of the city, commissioning hundreds of works that aim to encourage citizens to discover new ways to interact with the urban space. From swarms of paper butterflies resting on neoclassical columns to church naves encrusted with Hirst-ian bejeweled skulls, Nuit Blanche is a hugely popular way to engage with cutting edge artistry with a stunning backdrop, Le Paris.
La Nuit Blanche takes place on the first Saturday of October, visit the below link to see work and exhibitions from previous year
3. La Defense
Ok, so we’ve done the arts, now time for some capitalism. It may not sound like a great recommendation but La Defense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district and really does feature some stunning architecture such as the Grande Arche. The area may not ooze the glamour of Opera or the grandness of the Louvre but it is a worthwhile insight into contemporary Parisian life. The area also has some great restaurants and shops so don’t forget your Euros.
Where to stay:
Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements (or boroughs if you prefer the London vernacular) working in a spiral from the centre to the outskirts. Don’t just assume everywhere you want to stay or visit is in 1-5, the obvious outliers are the Sacre Coeur in Montmatre (18) and Pere Lachaise (20)
Our favourite place to stay is around Voltaire in the 11th arrondissement, Bastille. It’s walking distance from fantastic restaurants & nightlife as well as reasonably priced accommodation, it also gives much more of a true representation of “real Paris” rather than the overly-tourist areas you usually find in guidebooks. While there are many sites to use, we recommend using Hotel Direct as they have a good selection of hotels right in the heart of Paris. For prices and more information on Paris city center hotels check them out!.
What to eat:
This might sound like a cop out but discover your own Great Little Place. It really is quite hard to find a bad meal in a French restaurant (assuming you avoid chains). Look for bistros on the street intersections, take a seat outside and ask for the specials. You won’t be disappointed.
(Avoid tourist traps like the cobbled streets around The Eiffel Tower & Montmatre).
We hope you find some of the above useful. Have you ever been to been to Paris in the autumn, or are you planning to? Let us know your tips and recommendations in the comments!