|Photo: B. Stormshak|
Lines are shorter, prices are lower and the thousands of trees that grace this most graceful of cities are a riot of color.
And most importantly, the locals are back from their long summer vacations, so shops, restaurants and all the must-see spots are open.
To start your journey, stop at one of the thousands of cafes that adorn the city, order a petit dejeuner francais (coffee, croissant, baguette, jam and butter) and be prepared for good service. That's right. Good service. When the summer rush is over, the infamous French waiter forgets that stereotypical attitude.
Where to StayOnce you're rejuvenated, head to your hotel. You'll still need advance reservations, of course, but you'll find more choices and significantly lower prices throughout the city in this season. I chose the
What to SeeOne of the big advantages of off-season travel, certainly, is the relative dearth of crowds. Consider one of the most famous destinations in Paris, the
|The Four Seasons George V|
Musee d'Orsay is another essential stop. The airy building, a former train station, is filled with light and easy to navigate -- a refreshing break from the at-times labyrinthine Louvre. The museum's collection of Impressionist and other modern paintings and sculpture is stunning. And be sure to keep in mind, the d'Orsay and other museums have instituted relatively strict security measures in the last few years. Expect to run your bags through an X-ray machine and be subjected to a search if you set off the metal detector. The Eiffel Tower , by the way, is one attraction that remains crowded no matter what the season. Not only is it high on every tourist's must-see list, it only has three elevators -- in the legs -- to accommodate the crowds. Still, the view from the top is breathtaking; it's 324 meters high, and there's little to block the vista. Completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is well worth exploring. The elevator ride to the top will cost you 11 euros, or about $14; if you're feeling ambitious, you can walk up to the second level for just 3.80 euros, or $5. There's even two restaurants on the lower levels of the Eiffel Tower -- Altitude 95, and the prestigious and expensive Le Jules Verne (reservations are essential). Charlot (12 place de Clichy), roi des coquillages (the king of shellfish) in Clichy, a vibrant neighborhood not far from Montmartre. The gigantic platters of shellfish are truly works of art, but more than any one diner can consume -- get one to share and sample some of the side dishes to round out your meal. Main courses run about 19 euros to 38 euros ($25 to $48). Another excellent pick is Chez Nenesse (17 rue de Saintonge), in the Marais district. Here you'll find unpretentious food made with the freshest ingredients, and the atmosphere of a classic Parisian cafe. The mixed green salad with duck fois gras is terrific; prices here range from about 12 euros to 15 euros ($15 to $19). Montmartre is where you'll find the storied Moulin Rouge nightclub. It still has the famous windmill sign facing the street, but has apparently gone through major renovations. Be prepared to pay for the privilege, as a multicourse dinner and a show on weekday evenings is 140 euros (about $180).
Finally, the weather. In mid-October, it was still rather warm in the city, but it will be cooler in November, of course, with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-50s; it can rain frequently in this season. But bring an umbrella, stout walking shoes -- and don't forget a power adapter -- and I guarantee, you'll love Paris in the fall.
BMI , Ebookers or Easy Jet to help you find flights from London to the continent. If you do want to take the " Chunnel " train, book well in advance to get the best rates -- it's a Eurostar train that zips between London and Paris, right under the English Channel, in under three hours. Bon voyage!
Bon AppetitBeyond those delicious petit dejeuners, most of the food in Paris is superb. Try
|Dancers on rue Mouffetard|
|Photo: B. Stormshak|