November Is the Best Time to Travel to Paris. Here's Why.
As the leaves change and people swap their decorative gourds for twinkle lights, many travelers around the world are looking for a place to visit for the end of fall.
Though the old Cole Porter song points out that Paris has its charms with each season, a series of new initiatives, coupled with autumnal traditions and smaller crowds, make November the perfect time to visit the City of Light.
Airfares are lower than usual, according to tourism industry professionals, so a few days in Paris doesn’t have to break the bank. Each year November tends to be one of the calmer moments for Paris, as it sits between the throngs of August arrivals and the crush of Christmas tourists.
Visitors won’t have to spend an hour to get into the Musée Rodin or the Louvre, and the lull can give travelers the chance to experience Paris as the Parisians do. With the heat lamps turned on, café-goers can enjoy a “vin chaud” (mulled wine) or “grog” (hot lemon rum tea) on terraces across the city.
“I think it’s also the weather and the mood of being in the city that’s hard to describe: you have that beautiful Parisian light set against the Belle Epoque architecture,” Mimi Chloe Park, a spokesperson for tourism development agency Atout France, told Travel + Leisure.
The crisp air doesn’t have quite as much bite as New England, but the trees that line the Champs Elysées and other boulevards throughout Paris shine with red, orange and yellow leaves. Free merry-go-rounds and ice-skating rinks dot the Champs-Elysées and the Hotel de Ville.
Alongside old traditions, Parisian authorities recently instituted a whole host of new initiatives to make visiting the capital city easier. The Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, announced in October that they would create a program to place multi-lingual greeters throughout the city. These English-speaking guides can help give directions, suggestions and other advice to tourists.
The Paris region also announced the addition of a “CityPass” that will double as a subway ticket as well as entry to several popular attractions, in an effort to prevent tourists from carrying large sums of cash throughout the city.
While some travelers have shied away from Paris in the wake of a series of terror attacks in the past several years, government officials and security experts alike have reassured travelers that the city remains a safe place to visit. In the run-up to the one-year anniversary of the November 13 attacks, security is likely to be tighter than ever.
Since the crowds of holiday season travelers may not have yet arrived, visitors to the Paris region in November can still take advantage of many of the festive traditions. Most department stores have already unveiled their gorgeous window displays, and decorative lights drape the streets and windowsills.
One tradition that is a must-see is the Christmas markets, or “marchés de Noel.” Set up throughout Paris, these festive installments allow vendors and craftsmen from throughout the country to sell their artisan products. It’s the perfect place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family, from savon de Marseille, to sachets of lavender from Provence, to salted caramels and gingerbread.
Other seasonal delights include the autumn festival, which incorporates art, music and other theater performances, according to Atout France.
The arrival of the Beaujolais nouveau, which takes place on the third Thursday of November each year, is a citywide tradition. The new red wine vintage is an event that becomes cause for celebration, with tastings and events throughout the city.
November is a time when Paris and its visitors can take a breath before the chaos of the holiday season ensues. It’s a moment to drink Beaujolais and be merry.