It's not yet autumn — all the gardens are still in bloom. September in Paris means la rentrée, when thousands of Parisians return from their long summer vacation and transition back to city life. The "back to school" feeling in Paris is palpable – tout le monde are talking about what they did on their summer vacation and looking forward to a new period of activities and events. The Paris cultural season begins with a stellar line-up of ballet, opera, dance and theater events.
We think it's the best time to be in Paris. Take advantage of the season by organizing day trips from Paris, walking city tours, and evening concerts at the great churches of Paris. With so many things to do, yours will be a memorable month to be in the City of Life! By the way, you MUST get tickets for Puccini's opera, La Boheme, performed outdoors at Les Invalides. One more thing — for readers of Paris Insiders Guide (that's you!) the Paris Pass is offering a 10% discount when you use Paris Insiders Exclusive Discount Code: INGUIDE10.
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Here's an iconic activity that's a complete night on the town. It starts with an evening dinner on the Eiffel Tower. After a classic French meal, you stroll to the banks of the Seine for an evening river cruise. But the night's not over! Next up is the famous Moulin Rouge to enjoy the show — while sipping champagne. All the details are taken care of.
When we're in Paris we don't want to waste time standing in line. That's why we choose skip-the-line tours. Breeze past the line and follow your guide up the tower while she relates tales about the the most famous tower in the world. Then use your tickets to go up to the tippy-top where you'll have time to explore on your own and take in the city spread out beneath you.
The days and nights are still warm, so what better way to celebrate your stay Paris than a champagne-fuelled cruise down the Seine — the most romantic river in the world. You'll discover this is the very best way to see the sights of the city as you glide past the monuments on a bateaux while sipping bubbly.
A great way to end the summer is this 2-in-1 tour. Follow your guide as you cycle around the countryside near Versailles — through forests and pastures — and then picnic in the gardens of Versailles. After touring the grounds you use your VIP skip-the-line pass to explore the magnificent Chateau de Versailles. It makes for a wonderful day, but it's likely to sell out.
People love this nighttime dinner cruise, and it's easy to see why. It's fun, it's romantic, and everything's taken care of for you – starting when your driver meets you at your hotel. At the Seine you board your bateau for a relaxing cruise and 3-course French meal. Watch the lights of Paris pass by while sipping wine. When the cruise ends, your driver will be waiting.
With over 9 millions visitors a year, the Louvre Art Museum is another über-popular site in Paris, which again means long, long lines. Another great insiders tip is to book a guided tour of the museum, which leads you past the lines and right to the most famous works of art, also allowing you plenty of time to wander. Another tip — these tours sell out, so be sure to book early.
Visitors to Paris seem to love this (somewhat) creepy nighttime tour. Follow your knowledgeable guide along the winding streets and the hidden alleys to visit the little-known spots of a city with over 2,000 years of history, mysteries and legends. That makes for an action-packed evening. You'll learn about the slightly darker side of the City Light. Ooooo.
As you can see, we love the idea of saving time by skipping the long lines in Paris. This walking tour is a great introduction to the history and sites of the original part of Paris — the historic Île de la Cité. We predict you'll marvel at the ancient remains and the sites so important to the city's past. There's also a guided tour of the interior of the famous cathedral and it's all topped off (so to speak) by a skip-the-line visit to the famous Notre Dame bell towers, complete with gargoyles!
Here is one of our best and most appreciated Paris tips — know what's going to happen when you arrive by pre-arranging transportation from the airport into the city center. A popular and affordable way is to book a shuttle van service from the airport right to your hotel. It's convenient and cheaper than a taxi.
An even better tip — and a real Insiders secret — is to arrange to have the driver we trust meet you for a private transfer in a luxurious Mercedes S-Class. We appreciate the comfort and peace of mind after a long flight. Therefore, we always have our Paris pal, Manu, meet us at the arrivals gate and whisk us into the city. Honestly, it's the only way to do it!
The French gardens of the Chateau de Versailles will be dazzling and you still have a chance to see the water fountain show through September. There are many tours from Paris that take you the the chateau and its gardens, but we urge you to go the royal route, with a guide to help you maneuver the vast grounds and hidden corners. Here are our top recommendations —
Glide past the velvet ropes to see the Versailles most tourists will never see — Louis XVI's apartments, his personal library, and the Royal Chapel built for the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Tour the Hall of Mirrors just as the doors of the palace open and before the crowds arrive.
Among the wonders of the gardens of Versailles are the magnificent fountains, which are still turned on at certain times of the year. During September, grab the last chance of the year to experience the summer-only fountain show on Saturdays and Sundays only. Choreographed to music from the court of Louis XIV, it's not to be missed. This is a full-day activity and includes lunch at the Petite Venise restaurant..
Your driver/guide meets you at your hotel and whisks you off to the royal estate where you use your priority, skip-the-line tickets to avoid the throngs. Head directly inside to experience the grandeur of the chateau on a guided tour that includes the state apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen's Chambers. Afterwards, stroll through the equally-stunning gardens at your leisure until you meet up for lunch on the Grand Canal. Later, in the afternoon, there's plenty of time to visit the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette's fantasy village farm.
The most famous battle sites of World War II are found on the landing beaches of Normandy. On a small-group tour you visit the most important sites on a day trip from Paris, and return to your hotel the same day. On the beaches and at the monuments, museums and dedicated cemeteries, remember those who fought here. It's a powerfully emotional experience.
Yes, you can get from Paris to to the splendid chateaux of the Loire in a day. This tour not only takes you on leisurely visits to the magnificent castles on the banks of the River Loire, it also includes sampling the spectacular wines of the region. September is a superb month to see the gardens, mazes and moats of the Renaissance castles.
In September the gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny are spectacular — and less crowded — and should not be missed. Your driver/guide picks you up at your Paris hotel and whisks through the lovely French countryside to Giverny, where you'll have plenty of time to wander among the gardens, flowers, Monet's house and the pond.
The beautiful and world-famous Champagne country is only one hour from Paris. Spend the day focusing on the bubbly, with guided tours and tastings at some of the most famous champagne houses. In between, enjoy lunch at a boutique winery. Sample as much as you want, your expert guide is doing the driving — door-to-door from your Paris hotel.
We've just scratched the surface of what you can see from Paris in one day. Read our complete guide to learn about visits to historic Mont-Saint-Michel, to the World War I battlefields, Disneyland Paris, and even London!
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What we like about the Paris Pass is that it saves money & time. You get into the museums for free and ride the Metro for free. But the big advantage is that you get to bypass the ticket lines. If you've ever stood in line for hours at the Louvre or d'Orsay, you'll appreciate how nice it would be to just walk up to the door and show your Paris Pass
Now, we're able to offer a special discount, exclusively for our readers, that gives you an additional 10% on all 4-day and 6-day passes. What used to be just a good deal is now a great deal. And, since the clock doesn't start ticking on the Paris Pass until you first use it, you can buy it up to a year in advance. Be sure to use the discount code: INGUIDE10.
There are many stunning Gothic churches in Paris where classical music is performed performed. But, without doubt, the top venue for classical music is the acoustically-perfect Saint Chapelle in the dead-center of Paris on Île de la Cité. There, surrounded by stunning stained glass windows, with vaulted arches towering overhead, you're swept away by the music of some of the greatest composers who ever lived.
For one day only this month you can hear music of Monteverdi, Bach, and Purcell in the spectacular atmosphere of this famous Gothic church.
• September 6, 2016
Experience Puccini's masterpiece under the stars at the Hotel National des Invalides in Paris. Upgrade to a VIP ticket and attend a cocktail reception before the performance. Performed in Italian, with surtitles in French and English. This is sure to sell out, so book right now.
• Hotel National des Invalides
• September 6 to 10, 2016
As we've said many times, you don't want to miss a performance in this stunning (and stunningly restored) Bell Epoque palace. In September you can see a production of FrancescoCavalli's rarely performed opera Eliogabalo or ballet choreography by Crystal Pite, Tino Sehgal, William Forsythe, and Justin Peck
• Starting September 19, 2016
See Puccini's masterpiece melodrama in three acts performed under the baton of Dan Ettinger. In Italian, with English and French surtitles.
• Opera Bastille
• September 17 to October 18, 2016
Here we only have room for a few of the stellar classical music performances coming in September — there are dozens more this month at the Philharmonie de Paris, Sleeping Beauty at Opera Bastille, and more events at the grands opera houses. Be sure to check out what will be playing when you're in Paris in September.
On the Left Bank, the gourmet haven of Paris, walk with an expert good guide to learn all about the foods that France is most famous for. Start at a traditional fromagerie to learn about the country's cheeses. Sample there and move on to freshly baked baguettes. You'll also take in French wine and even foie gras!
These fun wine tastings cover a lot of wine territory. Professional French sommeliers deliver (in English) an extensive tasting of award-winning wines — from Champagne to Sancerre, from Bordeaux to Burgundy, from Alsace to the Rhône. It all takes place in a wine bar steps away from the Louvre. We heartily recommend the 2-hour tasting.
For even more fun — sign up for this wine tasting that includes an extensive sampling of the delicacies of France. In the cellar of the city's most popular wine bar take a guided tasting tour of French wines. Learn how to inspect, choose and taste wine and how to pair each wine with French specialty cheeses and charcuterie.
Now we're getting to the good stuff! On this tour you wander between the city's iconic chocolate & pastry shops to learn the secrets and techniques of each, while you sample all along the route. It's a small group tour with hands-on attention, and it goes at a relaxed pace. With only 8 people you get to sample a lot!
Imagine a three-hour cruise aboard a luxury yacht while being served a magnificent three-course gourmet meal, all the while watching the lights of this romantic city pass by. It's one of the best ways we know to combine romance, fine dining and a tour of Paris by night. This exclusive culinary activity is arranged by our Paris Concierge, so you know it's going to be great.
Shopping, cooking, eating — they make for a great day of our fave food activities. Visit one of the best open-air markets, where the chef explains all about the typical French foods found at the markets. You choose what's for lunch and then move on to the cooking studio where you learn, hands-on, how to turn your purchases into a fabulous meal.
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The Grande Classique is a…well, classic walk from Paris to Versailles. This popular annual event has been taking place for more than 30 years. It start at the steps of the Eiffel Tower and ends 10 miles (16 km) later at the gates of Château de Versailles. The Grande Classique is open to walkers over the age of 16, and, if you don't want to do the walk, it's fun to cheer from the sidelines!
• September 25, 2016
Visual arts, performance, theater, dance, music and cinema, The Paris Autumn Festival incorporates all of the arts. You'll find events throughout the city at 40 different venues starting in September and moving right through the Fall. Find out more information and how to buy your tickets at the website. Le Festival has been fostering the French arts since 1972.
It's the last days to see the first solo exhibition of Swiss painter Gleyre, (1806-1874). As well as an accomplished painter, he taught Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley & James Whistler. Also of note is a retrospective dedicated to the Beat Generation, showing at the Pompidou Centre.
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