Ambling through lanes of trees with fiery orange and yellow leaves at the Jardin du Luxembourg one fall, I couldn't help but remember the lines of some of the French Romantic poets I had come across as a literature student: the solitary, (melo)dramatic figures who revel in the melancholy ambiance of fall, as in Paul Verlaine's "Autumn Song": "The long sobs/ Of autumn/ Violins/ Pierce my heart/ With a monotone/ languor" (my translation).
As you've gathered, I'm a fall person. That's why I would recommend a trip to Paris in October-- assuming you, too, enjoy this traditional period of transition and release. It may be on the wet and brisk side, but for meditative strolls in crisp air, long afternoons chatting or reading in warm cafes, and enjoying dramatic dusks in picturesque settings, Paris is incomparable.
Why to Love It: Tourist season is ebbing, and the city gets a quiet, contemplative feel to it. You'll likely have more space to wander and truly enjoy Paris' fine museums and galleries. As mentioned above, wandering through one of Paris' many elegant parks and gardens on a sunny day can be a memorable experience. Shopping in Paris is also less of a headache than during the summer months, since you won't likely have to put up with long lines and overcrowded stores. In short, if you enjoy quiet, low-key vacations, you'll appreciate an October visit to the city of light.
A Few Highlights:
- October 6th, 2012: "Nuit Blanche" (White Night) is an annual event in which hundreds of Paris sites, including museums, galleries, and monuments stay open all night, allowing for some promising cultural discoveries and surreal nocturnal itineraries.
- October 10th-14th, 2012: Witnessing the Vendanges de Montmartre (Montmartre Wine Harvest) is a fantastic way to experience the best of Paris in autumn. The village-like Montmartre neighborhood boasts vines that still produce drinkable wines-- how many other cities can claim as much?
The October Thermometer
- Minimum temperature: 9 degrees C (48.2 degrees F)
- Maximum temperature: 16 degrees C (60.8 degrees F)
- Average temperature: 11 degrees C (51.8 degrees F)
- Average rainfall: 56 millimeters (2.2 inches)
How to Pack and Prepare
- October in Paris is generally chilly and damp, with average temperatures at around 52 degrees F. Rain is common and October is generally best-suited for indoor activities like visiting exhibits at Paris' many fine museums, or people-watching from inside a warm, cozy cafe. While temperatures rarely dip to near-freezing in October, make sure to bring a few sweaters, warm socks, and a coat suitable for autumn conditions.
- Cloudy, rainy conditions are frequent in October. Make sure to pack a sturdy umbrella and at least one pair of waterproof shoes. Also make sure your shoes are suitable for walking: Visits to Paris usually involve lots of strolling, and the Paris metro is notorious for its seemingly endless tunnels and stairs.
Compare Travel Packages and Book Your October Trip:Lock in a good deal on flights and hotels early by consulting the Kayak Travel Center (book direct).
Readers Respond: When is your favorite time of the year to visit Paris?