‘I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles,’ crooned Ella Fitzgerald. ‘I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.’ The First Lady of Jazz may have had a taste for the French capital in all seasons, but anyone truly acquainted with the city knows that autumn is when it comes into its own. Parisians, who abandon their city en masse during its long hot August, have always had a special relationship with September’s la rentrée. In theory, it’s the ‘back to school’ season of pressed uniforms and new pencils, but it also represents a wider reinvigoration of intellectual and artistic life – leaves might be falling, but the city blooms into a fantastic array of cultural events that continues for months. From horse racing and jazz to zombies and techno, our A-Z selection of the best things to be doing in Paris this season gives you 26 more reasons to enjoy the city in autumn...
The autumn alphabet
Things to do • Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe The Hippodrome racecourse at Longchamp, originally inaugurated by Napoléon III in 1857, has survived closure, war and bombings followed by a renaissance and total redevelopment in the 1960s. Through it all, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe has captured the hearts of race-lovers in France and worldwide, and these days the full-on racing weekend just keeps getting bigger.The Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is the main event of a huge annual international racing weekend...Read more
Food & Drink • Best local Paris beers In less than 10 years, Paris has gone from a bit of a beer desert where drinkers had to content themselves with a pint of ‘Kro’, to a serious community of beer connoisseurs. New recipes and brands seem to multiply almost weekly, and since 2014 the city has even had its own artisanal beer festival, Paris Beer Week. Beyond our selection of the best bars and boutiques for beer in Paris, we’ve tried and tasted some of the best local brews of the moment to bring you our top 10 beers produced in Paris and surrounds...Read more
Nightlife • Paris clubbing collectives Paris hasn’t always shone in comparison to its big-hitting nightlife neighbours London and Berlin. France might have hosted some of the best of the jazz age and some wild parties in the ’90s, but recently nightlife critics had started wryly referring to Paris as Europe’s ‘capital of sleep’. Fed up with paying steep entry fees for sterile commercial venues, young clubbers took matters into their own hands. Paris’s nightlife scene is now ruled by independent ‘collectives’...Read more
Shopping • Paris Fashion Week 2015 Most people at Paris's autumn Fashion Week (September 30-October 7 2015) know what ordinary mortals will be wearing a year in advance, so it’s well worth paying attention. Paris's Fashion Weeks are in September/October and February/March, two of the most important moments in the year for lookbooks worldwide (plus the Menswear and Haute Couture shows). Bringing together publicists, socialites, journalists and bloggers, stylists and models, it covers male fashion, haute couture and prêt à porter...Read more
Art • FIAC Paris’s colossal contemporary art fair FIAC has upped its game yet again for its 42nd edition. With a programme including 173 galleries from 23 countries exhibiting their works at the Grand Palais alone, the event is also expanding its reach this year with two ambitious sister events: ‘FIAC Hors Les Murs’ (‘beyond the walls’, i.e. in locations outside the Grand Palais itself) and OFFICIELLE. Perhaps because of the hefty entry charges and corporate feel of the main event, ‘FIAC Hors Les Murs’ has been a hit in recent years...Read more
Food & Drink • Fête de la Gastronomie 2015 In France, music has its own celebration day, Fête de la Musique (June 21); even work gets a special date, Fête du Travail (May 1st), marked somewhat ironically by a day off. So what about food? In 2010, UNESCO classified France’s gastronomy as 'an intangible cultural heritage of humanity', but governing bodies have historically done very little to actively promote the survival of the country’s culinary traditions. But in 2011, a step was taken in the right direction with the inauguration of the Fête de la Gastronomie...Read more
Hotels • Romantic Hotels in Paris Plot your perfect city break to Paris with the help of our guide to the city's most romantic pieds-à-terre. These gorgeous hotels deliver exclusive love nests, luxury suites and quirky hideaways to suit all budgets – and we've tried and tested them all, so can testify to their amorous overtones...Read more
Music • Jazz à la Villette The Jazz à la Villette festival is one of the most hotly anticipated events of the back-to-school season for musically-minded Parisians. Every concert is unique, a meeting between different artists: jazz, funk, hip-hop, blues and world. It's brilliantly orchestrated 21st-century jazz, mixed with rhythms and instruments from around the world.The programme for this year's edition at Parc de la Villette features the usual blend of established masters and up-and-coming talent...Read more
Food & Drink • Le Lavomatic This bar is tucked away on the top floor of what looks like a relatively lifeless apartment block on Rue Boulanger, near République. But this is all part of the game for Le Lavomatic’s owners, who have also snapped up the ground floor and are opening a fully functioning launderette here in September 2015. Because of all this, and because you can only reach the bar by climbing up a dainty spiral staircase, the whole place has the air of an illicit speakeasy joint...Read more
Food & Drink • Michelin starred restaurants in Paris Paris currently boasts over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, making it one of most foodie-friendly capitals in the world. Sieving through the list can be daunting (especially when you see the menu prices, which frequently ride over the €150 mark), so here's our list of the best Michelin eateries, whether you fancy food that has been awarded one, two or three (very dramatic) stars...Read more
Art & Stage • Nuit Blanche Forget back-to-school and SAD: autumn in Paris is as much about reinvigorating the community’s artistic esprit as it is about falling leaves and the end of summer. Led by the Nuit Blanche festival, held every year from 7pm 'til 7am on the first Saturday in October, the city blossoms into a fantastic harvest of art, music and theatrical events. It’s an unmissable time to visit, or for resident expats to shake off their post-summer sloth and get out and enjoy the city like true Parisians...Read more
Music & Nightlife • Pitchfork Music Festival Pitchfork’s website started out in 1995, covering the world of independent rock. Very quickly, the webzine achieved cult status, followed by hundreds of thousands who relied on the site to discover the next big things on the indie scene, be it pop or electro-rock. Today, the festivals are the best places to experience Pitchfork Festival's spirit for discovering the best new acts. The Chicago festival was founded in 2006 and was exported to Paris in 2012, when it took over the La Grande Halle de la Villette for its inaugural edition...Read more
Food & Drink • Quirky Restaurants For dishes that are talking points in themselves, or décor with a difference, these restaurants go out of their way to stand out from the crowd. Dinner in the pitch black? Aphrodisiac menu? Cats on your lap through teatime? Penis-shaped bread? It's all here, and more...Read more
R is for • Rap
Music • Action Bronson, A$AP Rocky/Wiz Khalifa, Joey Bada$$, Rae Sremmurd Rap music is usually lacking on the Parisian gig calendar, but this autumn will see many established and up-and-coming stars head to the capital. Growly, bearded ‘Life Is Beautiful’ rapper Action Bronson is at Le Trianon in September; there’s a massive co-headline gig from rap heavyweights A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa at Le Zénith; then, precocious talent Joey Bada$$ (whose deep drawl is attracting many NAS comparisons) and Atlanta minimalist rap duo Rae Sremmurd both pop by Le Bataclan...
Nightlife • Transient festival Festival season seemingly never ends in Paris, with Transient, perhaps the city's most cutting-edge music festival, returning from 5-8 November 2015. Launched by promoters Sinchromatic only last year and already a staple of Paris's autumn music calendar, Transient festival will bring the cream of innovative techno producers and experimental sound artists to a yet-to-be-announced inner-city venue. Selections this year include Monolake and Space Dimension Controller...Read more
Things to do • Halloween in Paris Wherever you go and whatever you do in Paris, it’s hard to escape the impression of a city that’s still haunted by its own (deeply macabre) past. So where better to celebrate Halloween on Saturday October 31 2015 than in the City of Fright itself? Plan ahead with our guide to the best haunted walks, Halloween costume shops, hidden attractions and late-opening bars, plus stories of the figures that still give the city its rather spooky reputation...Read more
Food & Drink • Vegetarian restaurants in Paris Don't let anyone tell you Paris doesn't cater for vegetarian and vegan diets – if you know where to look, delicious wholesome goodness is easily available. The trend for gluten-free is kicking off as well, relief for allergy sufferers and fans of wheatless cooking. Our selection of excellent bakeries, restaurants and cafés offer everything from gluten-free brunches to vegan cupcakes...Read more
Food & Drink • Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 Every year on the third Thursday of November, the young red vin de primeur Beaujolais nouveau is released on to the market in a frenzy of promotion, buying and drinking. Just 6-8 weeks old, the wine is intended for immediate consumption.Not everyone in Paris is a fan. In fact, the light, fruity wine is as divisive in France as football or politics. But what's certain is that the night of Thursday 19th November 2015 will be given over, in many places, to committed (and raucous) testing of this year's vintage...Read more
X is for • X-rated Paris
Things to do • Splendour and Misery, Au Bonheur du Jour, Musée de l'Érotisme X-rated content is everywhere in Paris this autumn, as curators at the Musée d’Orsay present 'Splendour and Misery', the first ever in-depth look into the topic of prostitution in art. Also well worth your time is the permanent Musée de l’Erotisme, which contains seven floors of erotic artefacts (their diverse collection offers a history of French brothels, plus all of weird objects like Peruvian phallic pottery and Etruscan fertility symbols). If you want something to take away yourself, erotic gallery Au Bonheur du Jour is a treasure trove of erotic art to suit all budgets. Should you desire something a little more functional, you can also check out our pick of the best lingerie boutiques here...
Things to do • Parc Zoologique de Vincennes After five long years of renovation work, the Parc Zoologique (known colloquially as the Zoo de Vincennes) is back in business. Regular patrons of the old zoo are in for a shock: the venue’s been subjected to a radical redesign in which nothing, bar the 65m Grand Rocher centerpiece and of course the beasts themselves, has been spared. Visitors are now greeted by spots of woodland, a greenhouse, an aviary and five ‘biozones’, all of it brand spanking new and up to the ethical standards of the day. Efforts have been made to grant the animals more living space and promote the protection of endangered species...Read more