Seasonal Introduction

By Catherine Le Nevez, Lonely Planet Local

The days may be getting shorter and chillier but autumn is one of the loveliest seasons to be in Paris: the new work and study year gives the city a lively energy and the sense of community spirit in every quartier (quarter/neighbourhood) is in full swing.

Local street-market stalls are piled high with autumn produce like forest-picked mushrooms, pumpkins and freshly harvested nuts that star on restaurant menus. The markets are also perfect for picking up picnic ingredients: temperatures are often still mild enough to head to Paris' parks and gardens (including the city's most popular, the Jardin du Luxembourg), and along the Unesco World Heritage-listed riverbanks.

Crowds are thinning out at iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Sacré-Cœur and Notre Dame, with scores of less well-known but absorbing small museums to explore. You can also warm up at Paris' famous department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and small boutiques. And the cultural season continues to ramp up, with ballet and opera productions, and a host of exhibitions, festivals and events city-wide.

Upcoming Events

What's On

Lonely Planet Local Top Pick: Grandes Eaux Musicales (to 28 Oct) On Saturdays, Sundays and some additional dates, the Château de Versailles' exquisite gardens host the Grandes Eaux Musicales, with fountains creating dancing water displays set to Baroque and classical music. Jardins Musicaux (Musical Gardens) promenades also take place on certain days until 30 October. More info: Château de Versailles.

Lonely Planet Local Catherine Le Nevez says: Versailles' formal gardens, geometrically laid out by landscape artist André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV in the mid-17th century, are at their most magnificent at this time of year. Be sure to pre-book tickets that include the events you want to see.

Africolor (16 Nov–22 Dec; www.africolor.com) Celebrating its 30th year, this African-music festival is primarily held in outer suburbs, such as St-Denis, St-Ouen and Montreuil.

Beaujolais Nouveau (21–22 Nov) At midnight (ie Wednesday night) – as soon as French law permits – the opening of the first bottles of cherry-bright, six-week-old Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrated in Paris wine bars, with more celebrations on Thursday itself.

Festival d’Automne (to 13 Feb 2019; www.festival-automne.com) Established in 1972, the Autumn Festival of arts presents painting, music, dance and theatre at venues throughout the city.

Franz West (to 10 Dec) Early paintings, sculptures and papier-mâché creations by avant-garde Austrian artist Franz West (1947–2012) are on display at the Centre Pompidou.

Illuminations de Noël (mid-Nov 2018–early Jan 2019) Festive lights sparkle along the av des Champs-Élysées and other 8e streets, while window displays enchant kids and adults alike at department stores including Galeries Lafayette.

Pitchfork Music Festival Paris (1–3 Nov; www.pitchforkmusicfestival.fr) The Grande Halle de la Villette at the Parc de la Villette is the venue for this three-day fest of pop, rock, indie and electro music.

Salon du Cheval de Paris (24 Nov–2 Dec; www.salon-cheval.com) Sporting events and competitions including show jumping and dressage are part of the nine-day Paris Horse Fair.

Salon du Chocolat (31 Oct–4 Nov; www.salon-du-chocolat.com) Chocaholics won't want to miss this five-day chocolate festival's tastings, workshops, demonstrations, kids' activities and more at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, 15e.

Salon Marjolaine (3–11 Nov; www.salon-marjolaine.com) Browse hundreds of eco-friendly stalls at France's largest organic fair, held in the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes (bring cash; not all take cards).

Coming Up

Jean-Michel Basquiat (to 14 Jan 2019) The works of neo-expressionist American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–88) are spotlighted at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne.

La Saint-Sylvestre/Le Réveillon du Nouvel An (31 Dec–1 Jan 2019) Bd St-Michel, 5e, place de la Bastille, 11e, the Eiffel Tower, 7e, and especially av des Champs-Élysées, 8e, are the Parisian hotspots for welcoming in the New Year.

Peintures des lointains (to 6 Jan 2019) Paintings and drawings of Tahiti by Matisse and Gauguin are among the works displayed as part of the Paintings from Afar exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly.

Picasso: Bleu et rose (to 6 Jan 2019) Picasso's pivotal blue and rose periods, from 1900 to 1906, are showcased at this exceptional exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay.

Zao Wou-Ki: L'espace est silence (to 6 Jan 2019) Some of artist Zao Wou-Ki's large-format triptychs in oil and Chinese ink on paper, displayed at the Petit Palais' Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, have never previously been exhibited.

Future Events

2023 Rugby World Cup (Sep–Oct 2023) France will host the 10th Rugby World Cup, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the creation of the sport. Centrepiece venues will include the Stade de France.

2024 Summer Olympics (2–18 Aug 2024; www.paris2024.org) A flurry of activity is underway before Paris hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics, with events taking place during the run-up.

2024 Summer Paralympics (4–15 Sep 2024; www.paris2024.org) Paris will stage its inaugural Summer Paralympics in the month following the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Caravage à Rome (to 28 Jan 2019) The intimate Musée Jacquemart-André traces Italian master Caravaggio’s 'Roman period' from his early apprentice days on.

Venise, les arts et l'Europe au XVIIIe siècle (to 21 Jan 2019) This blockbuster exhibition at the Grand Palais pays tribute to Venice's artistic endeavours in the 18th century.