Often quieter, cooler and cheaper, France offers plenty of choice for autumnal getaways. Read on to find out where in France you can make the most of autumn…
Basking in a warm golden glow, the Burgundy vineyards look truly spectacular in autumn. There is a great buzz around the villages at this time of year, as the grape harvest gets underway and excitement builds for the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction in November. The cool, crisp days are also a perfect time to tuck into Burgundy’s hearty cuisine such as boeuf bourguignon, washed down with a good bottle of local red wine. Burn off the extra calories by discovering Burgundy’s Renaissance châteaux and fortified villages or walking though its sun-dappled vineyards.
To me, Provence conjures up images of lively market stalls brimming with sun-swollen fruit, clinking chilled glasses of rosé and strolling through quiet flower-strewn cobblestone streets. Such a picture-perfect image is best realised in the autumn months, when the tourists leave and a bounty of harvested fruit and veg and cooler temperatures falls on this part of France.
Paris is magical at any time of the year but in autumn, when la rentrée begins and the height of the tourist season ends, the French capital really comes into its own. Besides the dwindling queues and the jam-packed cultural calendar (October is the month of Nuit Blanche and the Montmartre wine festival) the best things about Paris in autumn are sweet and simple. Just grab a cup of chocolat chaud and stroll along the leaf-covered banks of the Seine to see what we mean.
A trip to Brittany’s wind-whipped coastline in autumn is guaranteed to blow off the cobwebs. Foraging for mushrooms and chestnuts is among the season’s greatest pleasures in this corner in France, as is catching up with friends over a cup of sweet cidre from the apple harvest.
If you want to taste the fresh seafood from Normandy’s charming fishing port of Honfleur, autumn is probably the best time to go, thanks to the port’s Fête de la Crevette festival. One of the best known food festivals in Normandy, you can taste a variety of seafood as well as celebrate the town’s maritime culture with performances of sea shanties, an arts and crafts market and cooking demonstrations of local fish recipes.
With fewer crowds, good weather and better deals to be had, many people consider autumn the best time to visit Nice. Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in relative peace, explore the city’s many galleries and shops and even swim in the sea (until November at least).
The half-timbered houses along Strasbourg’s canals are beautiful all year round, but against the backdrop of colourful autumn leaves, they are something else. While the city is busy in summer and winter, autumn offers a more relaxed experience where you can potter about town on your bicycle with ease. The 15-day Musica festival is also a great opportunity to discover new musical talent.
You can expect highs of 20 degrees in Biarritz during the autumn, still warm enough for swimming in the sea and riding the waves in one of France’s top surf destinations. Strolling along the two-mile seafront is much more manageable in these climes, as is ascending the 248 steps up the lighthouse where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Pyrénées.
Autumn is as good an excuse to wrap up in cosy jumpers and put on a few extra pounds as any, and where better than Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France to indulge? Make your way round the traditional bouchon Lyonnais and find out for yourself what all the hype is about. In October the city also hosts its annual film festival that’s dedicated to the history of cinema. All in all, Lyon in autumn is perfect for taking it easy!
There are plenty of flights from the UK to Toulouse and when the autumn season starts, the price of plane tickets drops so it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the off-season prices. You could either stay and discover La Ville Rose or hire a car or jump on a train and discover the myriad towns, cities and villages that are close-by.
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