If you’ll be coming to Paris in the fall, you’re in for a treat. The weather starts to cool down, the summer crowds begin to dissipate, and a mosaic of red, orange, and yellow leaves dusts the tree-lined streets and parks. There are also many annual events that take place all over the city during the autumn months from September to December, so you won’t have any excuse to be bored!
Paris Autumn Festival
Also known as the Festival d’Automne à Paris, this multidisciplinary contemporary art festival has been going strong since it was established in 1972. It takes place in 47 different venues throughout Paris and the Île-de-France region, with programming lasting from September until December. It brings together a wide variety of performances and exhibitions including visual arts, theatre, dance, music, and film. The original pieces and shows presented during the festival are created by renowned artists from around the world, making the festival a must for lovers of any contemporary art form.
At the end of September, the catwalk comes to Paris for the Fall/Summer edition of Fashion Week. Fashion lovers will be in heaven during this full week of events. Paris celebrates and promotes the recent work of designers both from Paris and from all over the world. The top designers and models flock to Paris to share the styles that will be setting trends in the upcoming seasons. They show off their collections during fashion shows, social events, gallery exhibitions, and parties at venues all over the city. While many of the shows can be quite exclusive in terms of attendance, it is sometimes possible to volunteer for one of the designers in order to be able to get access!
Get a fresh take on Paris’ artistic and cultural scene during this special all-night event. Nuit Blanche, or “White Night”, is one of the most unique events to be found in Paris. Taking place on the first Saturday in October, the “Sleepless Night” celebration will send you on a creative journey all over the city to explore exhibitions, art installations, performances, and endless other cultural creations, from street art to light and sound shows. Various routes are planned around the city that show off the different art installations throughout the streets, plazas, and buildings. Public transportation stays open all night so that you can make the most of this unique festival. With different art directors every year, this event always has something new in store and is guaranteed to show you the City of Light in a whole new light.
International Contemporary Art Fair
Known as FIAC by its initials in French, the International Contemporary Art Fair is one of the world’s most recognized celebrations of modern art. At museums and galleries all over Paris, including breathtaking venues like the Grand Palais or the Tuileries Gardens, you’ll be able to join tens of thousands of art lovers in admiring the work of groundbreaking artists from around the world. It takes place during mid- to late October, so if you’re lucky enough to be studying at PSB Paris School of Business during the fall semester, you’ll have the special privilege of being in the City of Light during one of the most important art events of the year.
French Heritage Days
European Heritage Days began as an initiative to foster appreciation and stewardship of local history and culture across Europe, while also celebrating the richness and diversity of the region. France’s Heritage Days are celebrated in mid-September. On this weekend, thousands of historic landmarks, cultural centers, and other lands and buildings are opened to the public for free. It’s a great time to check out those museums, theatres, palaces, and government buildings you might have been admiring from afar — without spending a cent! You may discover the luxurious Luxembourg Palace, the Elysée Palace and many rare attractions such as private mansions, medieval cellars, the city’s ancient sewer system and freemason temple. This is a unique experience for those who aren’t quite satisfied with the traditional curated museum experience.
Every year on the third Thursday of November, the entire country of France eagerly awaits the release of the year’s batch of Beaujolais Nouveau. This quirky festival may be one of the most unique that you’ll experience in Paris. It marks the first market release of the year of a particular type of vin de primeur wine — that is, wine that is only six to eight weeks old. While even the French can be somewhat divided as to the merits of this light, fruity variety of wine, there’s no doubt that it has become a cultural event of its own. Each year, on the third Thursday evening in November, Parisians and visitors alike flock to local bars, restaurants, and cafés to take advantage of special deals and enjoy the year’s first release of beaujolais nouveau.
Paris Chocolate Fair
You don’t have to be a pastry chef to enjoy the Salon du Chocolat. Each year during late October or early November, close to 1,000 chefs, chocolatiers, producers, authors, designers, and many more professionals from the chocolate industry gather to show off their creations and celebrate the magic of everything that comes from the cocoa bean. Whether you’re interested in the latest innovations in chocolate production, or just want to sample any and all desserts you can get your hands on, the Paris Chocolate Fair will open your eyes to a whole new world of sweets!
Mondial de l'Automobile
The Paris Motor Show is one of the foremost automobile trade shows in the world. Originally begun by one of the first pioneers of the car industry in France, this festival has celebrated the advances of automobiles for over more than a century. It now welcomes over one million visitors per year from around the world each October. The exhibition is now on the forefront of cutting-edge technology in the car industry and offers a sneak peek at the newest eco-friendly, luxury, and other vehicles from top automotive design brands.
Spring in Paris — it evokes images of quaint streets bursting with cherry blossoms, parks erupting in lush shades of green, and Parisians and visitors alike shedding their winter coats to enjoy the milder weather. The City of Light does not disappoint during this season, as we finish out the last of the winter weather and approach the sunny, warm light at at the end of the tunnel. The city begins to recover from the chill of winter, and a host of events and festivals start to liven up the atmosphere and provide entertainment for all.
The Hidden Face of Paris
Known in French as Paris Face Cachée, this event is one of the most unique ways to get to know some pieces of Paris’ history that you won’t experience in any other way. The Hidden Face of Paris allows you to take part in original adventures that take you through a variety of buildings, museums, workshops, and more, that are not usually open to the public. Reserve your ticket ahead of time and enter a secret world of ancient mansions, bathhouses, artists’ workshops, and even some hidden spaces within some of Paris’ most famous buildings.
Paris Book Fair
Bibliophiles, hold onto your hats! Known across Europe as one of the biggest literary events of the region and the world, the Salon du Livre offers the chance to mingle, learn, and of course, read. Whether you are an avid reader or an aspiring professional in the literary industry, you can’t miss one this innovative industry event. With talks by popular authors, spotlight on books from different countries, networking opportunities, the Paris Book Fair has something for readers, publishers, authors, and everyone in between.
One of the most recognized marathons in the world, the Paris Marathon takes place each year on a Sunday in April. On top of being a globally important athletic competition, it also is one of the most scenic — the Marathon’s route winds around some of the most picturesque areas of the city, including the Champs-Elysées, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and more. You certainly don’t have to be a competitive athlete to enjoy the Paris Marathon, though. Thousands of spectators spill onto the streets to enjoy the spring air and cheer on the runners in this energetic celebration of the human spirit.
When it comes to international equestrian events, Saut Hermès is one of the most elite show jumping competitions in the world, attracting the crème de la crème of riders and horses from around the globe. In addition to the incredible training and athleticism of both athletes and horses during the main events, the tournament also includes breathtaking stunts and musical performances by other equestrian artists. Join thousands of admiring spectators at the historic Grand Palais, where the iconic glass and steel structure only adds elegance to this refined celebration of discipline, talent, and achievement.
Paris may not be Rio de Janeiro, but it does put on a pretty good carnaval. This raucous, colorful celebration has evolved and grown over time, with influences from endless cultural and religious groups. Now, each February it brings together workers’ groups, musicians, street artists, and spectators in a feet-stomping, show-stopping celebration of life and culture. It culminates in the famous Promenade du Boeuf Gras, or the Parade of the Fat Cow, a tradition that dates back to the middle ages.
Six Nations Tournament
Rugby fans in Paris won’t want to miss out on this event happening right in their own backyard. For several weeks, the top six national rugby teams in Europe will battle it out on the playing field in this crowd-pleasing tournament. Will France, England, Wales, Italy, Ireland, or Scotland become this year’s European Champion? We’ll find out during March and April!
Tour Auto Optic 2000
Classic car lovers will delight in this multi-day event, taking place at the end of April. It begins with an exhibition of over 200 participating classic automobiles from the 1950s to the 1970s, held at the breathtaking Grand Palais in Paris. From there, the cars and their owners will embark on a five-day race through the French countryside, finally ending on the glimmering Azure Coast, also known as the French Riviera. For aficionados of classic European cars, this gorgeous collection of vintage German, Italian, and British models is unlike any other.
Nuit des Musées
If you can’t get enough of Paris’ museums, and you are tired of all the entrance fees, do not despair! On the citywide “Museum Night” in May, over 1 000 museums of all shapes, sizes, colors, and exhibitions throughout Paris open their doors to the public for free. You can take advantage of this special day to check out classic sights like the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay, with modern art marvels like the Picasso Museum and curious spots like the Hunting and Nature Museums. If you are very curious you may also checkout special spots like the Hunting Nature Museum or the Archaeological crypt at the Notre-Dame cathedral.
Paris Jazz Festival
From mid-June to late July, Paris celebrates jazz in all its diverse forms, origins, and evolutions at the Parc Floral de Paris, a public botanical garden and park in the 12th arrondissement. Over this eight-week period, over 30 concerts will attract over 100,000 attendees. The Paris Jazz Festival has hosted some of the most revered names in jazz from around the world, making it a unique opportunity to experience live performances of some of these legendary artists. From classical jazz and world music to Afro-American soul and blues, this festival offers shows music for all tastes. You can also participate in a variety of activities and workshops to learn about topics like percussion, making instruments, and more.
Open de Golf
This important event on the European golf circuit draws some of the top golf players from around the world. Taking place from late June to early July at Le Golf National, one of Paris’ most famous golf venues, the Open de Golf allows spectators to get a close-up view of elite golfers at their best. In addition to watching competitors tackle this challenging course, famous for its hills, water, and other physical obstacles, attendees can try their own hand at golf at the driving range and putting green. If you’re interested in watching golf, but not so much in playing it, you can also do some shopping at the boutiques set up by the tournament’s luxury retail sponsors.
Despite Paris’ landlocked geography, there is good news for sunbathers: it actually does have a beach! Every summer, the city transforms the shores of the Seine River into artificial beaches, where Parisians and tourists alike flock to enjoy the sun, sand, and green spaces. Beach and water activities like volleyball and paddleboats are also popular, as well as various pop-up cultural events involving dance, literature, music. While swimming in the Seine is prohibited, there is plenty of sun and fun for all at the “Paris Beaches”!
Solidays Music Festival
Solidays Music Festival unites a massive musical celebration with fundraising for a cause. Each year, current and upcoming stars in pop, rock, hip hop, and other genres come together to throw a rocking party to benefit Solidarité Sida, a nonprofit working to prevent, treat, and end HIV/AIDS. It’s one of the most popular musical events in Paris, drawing up to 200,000 attendees over one weekend around the end of June. The festival takes place at Longchamps Racetrack, a historic venue where Napoleon III himself once watched local horse races. The past, present, and future all come together at Soliday Music Festival, where attendees and artists alike honor the past, enjoy the present, and build hope for a better future.
As a visitor to France, you won’t want to miss this special national holiday. On July 14th each year, all of France celebrates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, which represented a critical moment of the French Revolution. With a military parade along the Champs-Élysées and an epic fireworks display, this public holiday is a celebration of national unity and the French spirit.
Fête de la Musique
What better way to celebrate the summer solstice and the onset of warm weather than with an outdoor music festival that takes place all over the city? Now an annual tradition for more than 35 years, the Fête de la Musique is more than just a music festival: it’s an explosion of Paris’ creative energy onto the streets of the city. Appropriately celebrated on the 21st of June — the longest day of the year and the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere — the Fête de la Musique rejoices in the light and energy of summer. The Fête de la Musique encourages professional and amateur musicians to come out and offer free concerts open to the public in the streets, parks, and restaurants. Hundreds of musicians, DJs, and percussionists take to the streets in performances large and small, inviting passersby to dance, sing, and laugh. In some of the city’s important plazas, parks, and gardens, stages are set up for bigger artists to perform, while other musicians dot the street corners, sidewalks, and other surprising locations around the city. This June festival is an absolute blast for spectators and musicians alike!
It sounds like your summer session is already going to be full of unique cultural events throughout Paris! If you have time between dancing, celebrating, and cheering, you can check out many other free and low-cost initiatives and events throughout the city — or just enjoy the local summer in simple ways like savoring a meal on an outdoor terrace, taking a day trip out to the countryside, or venturing to a new market or neighborhood.