White Night, Grape Harvest Festival, Jazz sur Seine, & Halloween at Disneyland Paris
Top Paris events in October 2020 include two huge city-wide celebrations of art and culture, White Night (Nuit Blanche) and ParisArtistes.
You can also have fun at the annual grape harvest festival at a historic vineyard in Montmartre, enjoy 15 days of music during Jazz sur Seine, and visit Disneyland Paris to see lots of Halloween decorations.
But that's just the beginning. Look for exciting shows at all the major Paris museums, beautiful golden foliage throughout the city, and boutiques bursting with the fall collections. In even-numbered years, the world-famous Paris Motor Show brings over a million visitors to the city to see the latest automotive innovations.
Paris weather during October continues to be mild, with balmy nights, making October a wonderful month to explore the city while enjoying fall foliage colors.
Enjoy sidewalk dining outside your favorite bistro while the warm weather lingers, soak up fall colors in Parisian parks (we'll suggest the best!), and in honor of Halloween, conjure up a few ghostly spirits in the city's famous cemeteries.
You'll love visiting Paris in October!
Top photo: Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - 400 year old market (the oldest in Paris) in the 3rd arrondissement
Nuit Blanche (White Night) in Paris
On October 5, Nuit Blanche ("Sleepless Night") turns Paris into an all-night festival of lights celebrating the work emerging and established artists. Held annually starting at sundown on the first Saturday of October and continuing until sunrise on the following Sunday morning, this free event is one of Paris' largest and most popular cultural events as everyone stays up all night visiting the 100+ special art installations, concerts, dance and theatrical performances, elaborate light shows, and other artistic expressions by Parisian and international artists.
A festive parade kicks off the event with dances, musicians, DJs, and 12 spectacular large contemporary works (on wheels or inflatable) pulled by horses. You can see the works on display from 2pm to 5pm by the Grand Palais and Petit Palais on Avenue Winston Churchill in the 16th district, or in the parade which starts at Place de la Concorde at 7pm and finishes at Place de la Bastille at around 11pm.
For the first time, the Peripherique (Paris's ring road) will be closed to traffic between Porte de Pantin and Porte de la Villette and transformed into bicycle paths. Bring your own bike or rent a Velib' (Paris's bike share program).
Although shows take place in museums, galleries, municipal buildings, and studios across the city, you'll find the highest concentrations in central Paris (3rd and 4th arrondissements) and northeast Paris (18th and 19th arrondissements).
What's the easiest way to find out what's going on? You'll find a map here showing locations, addresses, and event information.
Bonus: The Paris Métro runs all night for Nuit Blanche to enable everyone to get around easily.
Paris Visitor's Tip: Daylight Savings Time Ends
Just a reminder: Paris, France, and most other European countries end Daylight Savings Time (DST) on the last Sunday of the month - October 25 this year, so at 3am, move your clocks back by one hour. You get an extra hour of sleep!
Wine Harvest Festival in Montmartre
Montmartre's annual Grape Harvest Festival (Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre) takes place for five days through the second weekend of the month - October 9-13 this year. Over half a million visitors came to the festival last year, making this the city's biggest event after Nuit Blanche and Paris Plage.
The festival involves traditional wine-making activities such as stomping on the grapes, but there's a lot more to do and see: a parade with lots of music and folk dancing on Saturday morning (starts at the vineyard at 11:45 and finishes at about 1:30pm at the 19th arrondissement's town hall), vineyard tours, many performances and exhibitions, over 20 free concerts (Thursday-Saturday), a a dance ("Rainbow Ball" is this year's theme) with disco and other on Sunday at nearby Square Louis Michel at the foot of Sacré-Coeur (5-7:30pm, free admission), appearances by many celebrities, and food and wine tastings plus kids' events throughout the festival.
In addition, numerous nearby small museums, galleries, and organizations host events during the festival.
Most events are free but some require advance reservations. You can find a schedule and list of events at the Festival's website (mostly in French), or stop by Montmartre Tourist Office (21 place du Tertre) for information from the multi-lingual staff.
In case you're wondering, the harvest of Gamay, Pinot Noir, and 26 other types of grapes comes from a vineyard believed to date from Roman times covering the hillside behind Musée de Montmartre (although current grapevines date from 1933). The 1,500 or so bottles of "Clos Montmartre" wine produced each year are auctioned to benefit local charities, but there are several other ways you can taste it: sample it at the Wine Festival or during one of the private "VIP" Montmartre tours that include the vineyard, or buy a small souvenir bottle for around 50 Euros at the Montmartre Tourist Office.
Location: Rue des Saules, 18th arrondissement
Nearest Metro: Abbesses; take the funicular up the hill
Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre - This small-group culinary tour of Montmartre lets you sample croissants and eclairs at a local patisserie, various cheeses at a fromagerie (cheese shop), and chocolate at specialty chocolate shop. You'll also stop at a bakery for a baguette-eating lesson, a creperie for a delicious crepe or galette, a butcher shop where you'll get to sample cured ham and sausage, and then the guide will help you pick out wines to match your food. More about this tour
Even though Halloween plays only a minor role in Paris decor and celebrations, you can indulge your Halloween fantasies at Disneyland Paris throughout October.
You'll find your favorite Disney villains, witches, and wicked stepmothers out and about, and plenty of spooky events adventures such as Mickey's Halloween Tricycle Gang, Goofy's "Skeletoon" Street Party, and lots of Halloween decorations everywhere.
When: September 28 - November 3
Disneyland Paris and Transportation
Take RER A to the Marne-la-Valee station across a small plaza from Disneyland Paris, and buy your tickets at the gate - or check out these options to make your trip faster and easier:
Michael Myers' Halloween at Le Grand Rex in Paris
Celebrate Halloween in Paris at the Grand Rex movie theatre as they continue their annual tradition of showing Michael Myers' Halloweencult classic from 1978 followed by the newest one (original English versions with French subtitles) on October 31. First show is scheduled to begin at 8pm - but confirm the time closer to Halloween on the Rex website - details usually get posted about 1 week before the event.
Location: 1 Boulevard Poissonnière, 2nd arrondissement Nearest Metro: Bonne Nouvelle
Paris Insider's Tip: How to Find Movies in English in Paris
Want to see your favorite American movie in Paris theaters but wonder if it will be shown in English?
Look for movie listings that include VostFr - that means the movie will be screened in its original language with French subtitles.
Immersive Art Festival at Atelier des Lumières
Digital arts venue Atelier des Lumières launches a new Immersive Art Festival devoted to graphic design and immersive digital "sculpting," using computer-generated images combined with sound and music to design living spaces and human interaction. You'll get to experience 4-minute original immersive shows by 11 teams, and then vote for your favorites.
When: 7pm-11pm, October 18-23 (shows), and October 24 (award ceremony) Where: Atelier des
Lumières, 38 Rue Saint-Maur, 11th arrondissement Tickets: Start at 24€
- book on https://immersiveartfestival.com
Paris Exhibits - Must-See Shows for October 2020
Soutine / De Kooning
@ Musée de l'Orangerie, October 7-January 25, 2021 - This exhibition explores Soutine's influence on De Kooning through about 50 works, many of them on loan from the Barnes Foundation of Philadelphia which holds the 2nd largest Soutine collection after Musée de l'Orangerie. Tickets: 9€; free admission when you have a Paris Museum Pass Location: Jardin des Tuileries, 1st arr. Nearest Metro : Concorde
Monet, Renoir, Chagall - Journeys Around the Mediterranean
@ Atelier des Lumières - February 28 through Dec 31, 2020 - Immersive video/digitized exhibition of Monet's, Renoir's, and Chagalls's masterpieces accompanied by original music. Tickets must be purchased online on the L'Atelier website Open: 7 days/week Where: 38 Rue Saint Maur, 11th arrondissement Metro: Saint-Maur
Paris Museum and Attractions Passes
Get free admission and skip-the-line access to 60+ museums in and near Paris when you have a Paris Museum Pass for 2, 4, or 6 days. (Access to special shows may require additional ticket.) More info
Jazz sur Seine
Music - specifically, jazz - fills the air during the Paris Jazz Club Association's massive event featuring almost 200 concerts at 25 different clubs between October 11 - 26.
This is a wonderful opportunity to hear well-known artists such as Carla Bley as well as many who may be new to you, and also to become explore Paris's lively jazz scene, considered second only to New York.
Ticket prices vary according to venue and artist. At small clubs, just the cost of a drink or a 10€ cover will get you in. Other shows require tickets, mostly in an affordable 12€-35€ range.
Where's the best place to view fall foliage in Paris? Thanks to the city's many parks, you'll see plenty of fall colors everywhere during October, but here are three favorite locations:
Jardin des Tuileries across from the Louvre - There's nothing more beautiful than the golden foliage of the plane trees during autumn in Paris. Stroll through the long allées, or relax by the reflecting pools. Nearest Metro Station: Tuileries; 1st arrondissement
Parc Monceau - Filled with specimen trees that turn spectacular colors in the fall, this leafy park also contains a colonnade, a miniature Egyptian pyramid, a temple, a windmill, a grotto, an Italian vineyard, and a pond. It sounds crazy like a crazy mix but somehow feels enchanting when you walk through it, and is particularly lovely in autumn. Nearest Metro Station: Monceau; Blvd de Courcelles, 8th arrondissement
Parc des Buttes Chaumont - This park boasts dramatic cliffs, a lake, a waterfall, a grotto, and even a mountain, plus local and exotic trees imported from around the world. It's always spectacular - but even more so during the fall with the foliage turns golden - plus you'll find some sweeping views of the whole city. Nearest Metro Stations: Buttes Chaumont and Botzaris; 19th arrondissement
Find a Few Parisian Ghosts & Spirits in these Cemeteries
To get into the spirit of Halloween on October 31 and All Saint's Day on November 1, stroll through these 3 famous Parisian cemeteries to soak up the ambiance of departed spirits and perhaps even imagine a few ghosts:
Parisians call Père Lachaise Cemetery in the Menilmontant neighborhood in far northeast Paris la cite des morts - the city of the dead - and its rolling hills, elaborate monuments, and haunting beauty makes it easy to imagine the spirits of those buried here, including Marcel Proust, Collette, Molière, Baron Haussmann, Isadora Duncan, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Modigliani, Delacroix, Victor Hugo, and Jim Morrison of The Doors.
Getting there: Metro station: Père Lachaise (Lines 2, 3), Blvd de Menilmontant and Avenue Gambetta, 20th arrondissement
Père Lachaise Cemetery Walking Tour: This 2-hour walking tour leads you through the maze of haunting and romantic tombs, shows you the graves of famous and infamous occupants such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin. You'll learn about the interesting and tragic histories of many of those buried there. More
Montparnasse Cemetery, a tranquil expanse in a part of the 14th arrondissement once popular with early 20th century artists, intellectuals, and writers is where you'll find the graves of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire, Serge Gainsbourg, Susan Sontag, and Eugène Ionesco. Filled with dappled light on sunny days but never really gloomy even in the rain, it's where you'll often see neighborhood residents out for an evening walk.
Getting there: Metro station: Blanche (Line 2), Avenue Rachel, 18th arrondissement
Montmartre Cemetery, smaller and with quirkier monuments than the other two cemeteries, stretches across hills and shadowy hollows in the southeast corner of the arty Abbesses Butte Montmartre quarter. Reputedly home to a band of feral cats, it usually attracts only a trickle of visitors compared with other major cemeteries. It's the final resting place for a number of the creative elite including François Truffaut, Gustave Moreau, Heinrich Heine, Stendhal, Alexandre Dumas, Dalida, and Edgar Degas.
Getting there: Metro stations: Edgar Quinet (Line 6), 3 Blvd Edgar Quinet, 14th arrondissement
Paris Motor Show
The huge Paris Motor Show, held every other year in even-numbered years, attracts well over 1 million visitors from 100+ countries around the world who come to see the latest automotive innovations and the cars of the future. This year, 2020, is an ONyear!
What can you expect to see and do? Almost 250 car brands will be showing their glitziest models and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Check out (and even sit in) your favorites, attend presentations, watch videos, and revel in the latest and greatest cars of your dreams.
If you're visiting Paris while this show is underway, be aware that the city's hotels will be filling to capacity as over half the Paris Motor Show visitors coming from outside of Paris - so make your reservations early!
When: October 4-14, 10am-8pm; open until 10pm on Oct 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 (look for date/time updates closer to the event date) Where: Porte de Versailles Convention Center, 15th arrondissement Tickets:Paris Motor Show website Getting there: Porte de Versailles Metro station; Tramway Porte de Versailles Parc des Expositions station
FIAC - International Contemporary Art Fair
See the latest developments in art as over 1,500 artists show their current work at FIAC, the huge international contemporary art fair from October 17-20.
You'll see sculptural works and installations in the Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, and other top art museums and institutions. Five of the city's top modern and contemporary art galleries are also participating. Other events include films, parades, music, video, paintings, photography, digital arts, and performances at a variety of locations.
Tickets: Required only for Grand Palais (38€ adults, 25€ reduced price for teens and young adults under 26, free for kids under 12 years); other venues are free
More info: See FIAC's website for daily schedules, locations and addresses, and a lot more
Salon du Chocolat
Part trade show, part entertainment, the Salon du Chocolat lets you immerse yourself in all things chocolate as over 500 chocolate producers, pastry chefs, candy makers, and artisans from around the world present five days packed with activities and events. You can attend cooking demos by top chefs at the Pastry Show, discover the wonders of chocolate at the Cacao Show, indulge in tastings at the Chocosphere, and enjoy a fashion show with models dressed in chocolate. Kids love the fun workshops - and of course, the chocolate.
When: October 30-November 3, open 10am-7pm each day Location: Porte de Versailles, Pavilion 5 Getting there: Metro station and Tramway: Porte des Versailles, 15th arrondissement Tickets: 14.20€ adults, 6,20€ children from 3-12, free for children under 3 - available at the door More information: Salon du Chocolat website
ParisArtistes takes place every other year in odd-numbered years - so 2020 is an OFF year.
Paris turns into a city-wide art show on October 4-6 when ParisArtistes features the work of 150 top painters, photographers, sculptors, and other artists hosted by more than 40 galleries, design centers, studios, 4- and 5-star hotels, and public spaces across the city.
With free admission to all venues, it's your chance to see the best of contemporary art being created right now in Paris. You can even meet the artists at many of the shows.
Hours vary by location, but Friday 6pm-10pm, Saturday 10am-8pm, and Sunday 11am-5pm is typical.