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Autumn in France /Fall in France
What if fall was the best time to visit France? In the fall, the weather may not be so warm and sunny anymore but all over France, magnificent landscapes and vibrant cities await you.
Fall in France is a great season for long walks outdoors and the display of reds, yellows, and browns that nature has in store give you a wonderful moment of escape before the winter break.
Also, you can take advantage of the off-season to explore the most popular cities in France. As the summer crowds clear out and the hotels empty, it’s easier to find cheaper flights and lower accommodation prices throughout the city during the French autumn. As a bonus, lines for the main tourist attractions are shorter, and patience is higher as the city quiets down in preparation for the winter holidays.
When is autumn in France? The fall season in France corresponds to September, October, and November.
So what are the best places to visit in France in the fall? Here are a few of our favorite fall destinations in France with something for everybody:
- Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
- Aix-en-Provence (Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur)
- Parks and Gardens of Paris (Ile-de-France)
- The Four-Lakes region in the Jura (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté)
- The Pays Cathare (Occitanie)
- Lille (Hauts-de-France)
- Alsace (Grand Est)
- Val de Loire and its châteaux (Centre-Val de Loire)
Best Places to Visit in France in the Fall
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1. Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
Autumn is a fantastic time to see the Dordogne Valley and the Vezère Valley in the Périgord. The weather in September and October is still warm, roads are quieter and the attractions are easier to visit. Enjoy Dordogne’s fall festival of red leaves blending with the warm colors of the hills and the medieval castles.
There are many fun things to do in Dordogne to keep you busy for a while. If you decide to visit the grottoes of Lascaux, however, it is still a good idea to book in advance. For truffles, you will have to wait until the beginning of winter…
2. Aix-en-Provence (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)
The city of Cézanne, fountains and calissons embodies the irresistible Provencal art of living like no other and it is definitely much more enjoyable after the intense summer heat.
Fall in Aix-en-Provence sees temperatures ideal for sightseeing – warm enough for shorts during the day and light sweaters in the evenings – and it is less crowded and much more comfortable to explore than during the summer season.
If you’re visiting Aix-en-Provence for the first time, don’t miss its colorful markets so typical of Provence. Also, consider taking this historical and gourmet walking tour to learn the stories behind the magnificent City of 1000 Fountains and its food.
3. Parks and Gardens of Paris (Ile-de-France)
Paris is always a good idea but it is especially beautiful when the trees turn from green to ocher. In Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries Garden, and Parc Buttes Chaumont offer enchanting settings that never disappoint walkers.
Paris in the fall is also time for arts, culture, fashion, and gastronomy. After the summer break, the food and wine festivals are back in town and they are fun places to visit and do some tastings.
Just over an hour’s ride, south and south-west of Paris, the forest of Fontainebleau and the Versailles gardens are ideal destinations to admire the flamboyant colors that nature offers in autumn. Other places to explore on easy day trips from Paris by train are Parc de Sceaux, Vallée de Chevreuse, Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne.
4. The Four-Lakes region in the Jura (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté)
If you want to enjoy fall landscapes like in Canada, head to the four lakes region in the Jura. Here, there are many lakes, waterfalls, and pine forests offering stunning panoramas and unique shots.
In the Jura, autumn offers a landscape of great beauty, with the turquoise or sapphire waters of the lakes that contrast with the ocher expanses of the surrounding vegetation. There are also many picturesque villages and great food (check out our fall road trip through the Jura)
September and early October is the best time to visit this area. After the second half of October, the weather gets too cold and you may find some businesses closed…
5. The Pays Cathare (Occitanie)
This cultural region in the Aude department, between Carcassonne and Perpignan, is home to the Pays Cathare, an ensemble of medieval cities, Romanesque abbeys, and stunning vertigo citadels related to the Cathars, France’s main heretic group in Medieval Times.
The Pays Cathare is ideal to explore between September and October, when the weather is still good, the cicadas are still singing and the vine leaves are slowly starting to change colors.
The best way to explore the Cathar Country is by car as most of these Cathar castles and other sites are poorly served (or not served at all) by public transportation. This 5-day Cathar Country road trip, with a start and finish in the Cité de Carcassonne, covers the main sites and it is an excellent opportunity to learn about this fascinating chapter in France’s history.
6. Lille (Hauts-de-France)
The capital city of the Hauts-de-France region is a great place to visit off-season. One of the criminally underrated cities in France, it owes much to its location near the Belgian border, feeling more Flemish than French, from its architecture to its food. Picture large cobblestoned squares lined with extravagant Flemish Baroque buildings you will have the measure of the place.
Visit Lille in September, when the city hosts the largest flea market in Europe. This annual street market is called the Grande Braderie de Lille and its origins date back to the 12th century. The Grande Braderie takes place on the weekend of the first Sunday of September and it is a big thing, hosting three million visitors each year.
7. Alsace (Grand Est)
Alsace is at its best in autumn, when red, yellow, and orange hues cover the hillsides and lend a special charm to the landscape. Enjoy the Alsace Wine Route, the Vosges, and the picturesque Alsace villages without the crowds or set off on a reinvigorating walk up to one of the region’s many fortified castles for breathtaking views.
If you’re visiting Alsace for the first time, set your base camp in Strasbourg (the capital) or Colmar and visit the Alsace villages on day trips. For more extended trips, consider renting a car for a fun Alsace road trip.
8. Val de Loire and its Châteaux
The Loire Valley Castles are stunning in all seasons but they are especially beautiful when the fall colors cover its parks and gardens. Château de Chambord and its domain is the first to come to mind but also Cheverny, Chenonceau, or Villandry with its magnificent French-style gardens are worth visiting.
For the perfect Loire Valley itinerary, visit one or two of the most popular castles and then drive off the beaten path to explore other lesser-known castles along the banks of the Loire. Some of them are home to autumn gardens whose glowing colors contrast with the white stone of the buildings. And it is even more remarkable when the reflections of the Loire mingle with it.
A fall road trip in the Loire Valley is an excellent opportunity to combine architecture, culture, nature, and great food.
9. Beaune and the Côte d’Or (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté)
During the autumn season in France, t’s easy to understand why Côte d´Or bears this name. In Autumn, the vineyard yields its fruit and gradually changes colors to yellow and orange, thus offering breathtaking landscapes.
The Burgundy hills are great to explore by car and amongst the different wine routes, we recommend the Route des Grands Crus from Beaune to Dijon. For shorter trips, set your base camp in Beaune and combine sightseeing with bike rides and wine tasting.
TIP: check out this list of incredible château-hotels for a unique stay in the Burgundy wine region.
If you visit Beaune in November, don’t miss the Hospices de Beaune wine auction, on the third Sunday of the month, at the Halle of Beaune. Every year for almost 155 years, wine professionals and amateurs meet at one of the most important events in the wine world in Burgundy. One of the most famous auctions in the world, the funds collected are intended for charities.
And there you have it, some great destinations to spend fall in France. Which one tempts you most for your next fall holidays in France?