10 Things to Do in Paris This October

Jardin du Luxembourg. Photo by Clarisse Taboy.

1. Automne Festival à Paris (September 13-December 31)

Various locations throughout Greater Paris

The Autumn Festival of Paris goes all the way until the New Year, thankfully, giving you plenty of time to take advantage of all the performances scheduled for this massive celebration of the arts. Contemporary forms of dance, theatre, music, film, and visual arts are on display at 47 venues in Greater Paris. Dancer/choreographer Jérôme Bel presents his show “Gala” at several different locations from October to the end of December, and choreographer William Forsythe and musician Ryoji Ikeda present their interactive, perception-bending exhibit, William Forsythe x Ryoji Ikeda. See the list of some-80 performances here.

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2. Car-Free Day (October 1)

All throughout Paris proper

From 11am to 6pm, on Sunday, October 1st, cyclists will not be the most disliked people on the road. For the third year, Paris is going (mostly) car-free for Journée sans voitures. Tour buses, taxis, public transit, emergency vehicles, limo services, and vehicles for the disabled are allowed on the road, and while some may be encouraged to turn toward a private car service, you should look to ecofriendly forms of transit! Rent Vélib and bike, ride in a Cyclopolitain (pedicab), or walk. Slow down and appreciate the beautiful city you’re in on this significantly quieter fall day. Where to go? All the places where you want fewer cars in your pics (the Champs-Elysées looks much nicer without all the swerving smart cars).

3. Pop Art Icons that Matter (until January 21, 2018)

Musée Maillol – 59-61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007

Don’t you just love it when you can see the best of the US while in Paris? The Whitney Museum of New York has sent their best 60s and 70s pop-art pieces to the Musée Maillol for the exhibit, “Pop Art Icons that Matter.” The greats like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein are on display, their pieces of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy featured prominently. (This is the most exciting, colorful, power-packed space you’ll find during your time in France.) There are lots of ticket discounts so read closely before you buy tickets here.

4. Nuit Blanche (October 7)

Various locations throughout Greater Paris

A phrase meaning “all-nighter” in French, Nuit Blanche wants you to stay awake from 7pm-7am. Now in its 15th year, Parisians are invited to peruse the streets for late-night installations, performances, and exhibitions of street art. The 30 official projects will happen primarily in the north and center of Paris. Select restaurants will stay open all-night to feed your literal, non-artistic hunger (see the list here). Scroll down on the event’s homepage to find the map of Paris laying out the night’s events.

5. Ô Chateau

68 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001

Wine-tasting courses (of course) are the main attraction at the wine establishment Ô Chateau, but their wine bar is worth a visit as well! They have more than 50 wines by the glass from 4-7pm when reservations aren’t necessary and you can order off the food menu. After 7pm, you’ll need dinner reservations. They offer a few online deals, combining cheese, charcuterie, and other apéro offerings with a selection of wines to taste. Ô Chateau’s knowledgeable staff is always eager to make recommendations, even if you aren’t taking a course. 

6. Grape Harvest Festival of Montmartre (October 11-15)

Various locations in Montmartre, 75018

Fun fact: Montmartre is the only area of Paris with working vineyards. Since 2007, this urban wine-making region has been celebrating its alcohol-growing roots with a few days of drinking and festivities at the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre. Classes, exhibitions, musical performances, DIY activities, nocturnal visits to farms, and tasting sessions will fill Montmartre. On Saturday, October 14, take something that lights up (your phone is fine), and gather on the Esplanade Pajol or Parvis du Sacré Coeur where fellow lumières will be holding a light to the sky from 7-7:15pm.

7. See the Fall Foliage

Journée sans voitures isn’t the only day to walk around and look up. It’s fall, and that means foliage. Now, Paris isn’t as green as Vancouver or Amsterdam, but there’s are quite a few beautiful gardens with foliage worth strolling under. The Bois de Vincennes, the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont will provide excellent backdrops for the perfect Insta. Additionally, MIT’s Treepedia offers a map of where to find the densest areas of trees in the city.

8. West Side Story (October 12-November 12)

La Seine Musicale – Ile Seguin, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt

A little bit of the US in France! Sixty years after the show’s creation, West Side Story is being honored at La Seine Musicale, a wonderfully located theatre on an island in the Seine just 50-minutes from the center of Paris on the Métro. West Side Story needs no explanation; just imagine yourself strolling through Jardin Bellini and on the banks of the Seine, singing, “Tonight, tonight, it all began tooooniiiighttt…” More info and tickets here.

9. Gab & Jo

28 Rue Jacob, 75006 

Eiffel Tower key chains and berets are fine souvenirs and gifts… for kids. Real Francophiles and connoisseurs should head to Gab & Jo for authentic, Made in France (yes, it’s capitalized) gifts. The boutique specializes in quality French-made goods of a fashion, accessory, and home décor nature. Bowties and watches, candles and butter knives, phone cases and children’s toys, there’s something authentically French for everyone. (Their e-shop is a welcome solution for those who can’t get to France.)

10. Salon du Chocolat (October 28-November 1)

Porte de Versailles, Pavilion 5 – 1 place de la Porte de Versailles, 75015

The world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate. (No more convincing necessary, we know you’re sold.) Chocolate cooking demos, a chocolate fashion show, chocolate sculptures, daily workshops, book talks and signings, and more are all on the agenda at the Salon du Chocolat. Tickets are pretty cheap for this kind of “salon” event and only available online in advance (no tickets at the door!).