Ready to dive back into international travel? With our priorities gravitating towards fresh-air activities, Paris’s flower-filled parks, vibrant street art and cozy outdoor eateries suit these times. Celebrated monuments like Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are majestic to gaze at while safely remaining outside. With the Seine rolling through its center, expect plenty of riverside diversions.
France is currently welcoming fully vaccinated American tourists, with no need to quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test result to enter. You will be asked for proof of vaccination at museums, attractions and restaurants, even when dining outside. You can apply for a digital health pass, called Pass Sanitaire, online.
If you don’t receive the sometimes elusive QR code by email before you depart for France (I didn’t receive mine in time for my recent visit), a hard copy of your American-issued vaccination card is an acceptable alternative.
The City of Lights is a dream vacation for many and fall’s crisp days are an especially invigorating time to be there. French bee, a new discount airline, is making a visit more accessible, with wallet-friendly New York-to-Paris nonstop flights starting at less than $400 roundtrip. From a gourmet meal on a patio surrounded by frescos to a breezy bike ride on a car-free trail, pack a sweater and consider these 10 outdoor activities in Paris this autumn and beyond.
Enjoy colorful fall foliage at one of Paris’s magnificent gardens. Bookended by the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, Jardin des Tuileries is a classic French-style garden with manicured flowerbeds and perfectly trimmed lawns. A maze and carousel are some of its whimsical diversions.
Across the river on the Seine’s Left Bank are the Luxembourg Gardens, with formal French and English gardens, tennis courts and a pond filled with floating model sailboats.
Jardin des Plantes is a botanical wonderland with medicinal and rare plants, a rose garden and herbarium.
Eye-candy street art
Paris has a rich art scene with exceptional visual stimulation beyond traditional museums and galleries. Street art is in vogue, including graffiti on subway cars, massive murals decorating residential buildings and politically-inspired portraits gracing slivers of storefronts.
Fluctuart is an urban art center floating on the Seine. Designed as an open-air museum, its permanent collection features work by respected street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey. Each evening, a giant fresco is projected on the Pont des Invalides, illuminating the night sky.
Delectable dining outdoors
No trip to Paris is complete without indulging in its fabulous food scene. Many restaurants have recently added outdoor seating and heat lamps, allowing diners to safely break bread when temperatures dip.
Castille Paris is a chic luxury hotel that’s home to L’Assaggio. Their Michelin-star chef spins edible magic into an inventive menu that blends Mediterranean flavor with French sophistication. Ask for a table in the tranquil open-air courtyard, where a Roman fountain and suggestive frescos add romance.
Pedal Parc Rives de Seine
Cycle along Parc Rives de Seine, a riverside promenade. It’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site open only to pedestrian and bike traffic for a seven-kilometer span. Lined with playgrounds, picnic areas, terraces, cafes and climbing walls, it’s a relaxed immersion in city life with views of some of Paris’s great monuments.
Get your wheels from Vélib’ Métropole, Paris’s user-friendly bike share.
Serenity on a rooftop
Transcend urban bustle and see how Parisians are creatively utilizing celestial nooks by transforming rooftops into bars, swim clubs and urban bee yards producing luscious honey. Taste farm life on the seventh floor of stylish Brach hotel, where a variety of vegetables and herbs grow and a merry trio of hens lay fresh eggs. A spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower adds panoramic panache.
Time-tested outdoor markets sell everything from produce to bric-a-brac. The Marché aux Fleurs is home to thousands of beautiful blooms, from humble daisies to perky yellow chrysanthemums, a fall favorite. Located on Île de la Cité, it’s an indoor-outdoor market with enough outdoor stalls to keep fresh-air seekers satisfied.
Visit on Sunday and enjoy a simultaneous weekly bird market, where exotic feathered creatures chirp up a storm.
A graveyard immersed in green
Historic graveyard Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is a lush space with thousands of trees, shrubs and plants covering its rolling slopes. Though a cemetery is not everyone’s cup of tea, some will find its cobblestone lanes and haunting statues a fascinating place to wander.
Graves of icons Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin and many other famous souls have made it the most visited burial ground in the world.
City of parks
Paris enjoys an abundance of wide-open green space at its two biggest parks. Head to Bois de Vincennes and paddle a rowboat, play mini-golf or ramble in woods surrounded by birch, oak and chestnut trees.
Bois de Boulogne has two lakes linked by a waterfall, miles of walking trails, horseback riding and cycling routes, transporting visitors to a bucolic state while remaining within city limits.
Rolling on the river
Seen from the perch of a riverboat, Paris’s cityscape can’t be beat. There are numerous ways to drift along the Seine. Batobus stops at top attractions, allowing sightseers to hop on and hop off.
Popular Bateaux Mouches has a full schedule of day and night tours lasting around two hours, with commentary in a score of languages. Bring your camera to snap photos of Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Pont Neuf, the Eiffel Tower and more famous landmarks.
Sculpture at the Rodin Museum
Paris is famed for its world-class museums. At the Rodin Museum, a picturesque garden allows visitors to appreciate works by Auguste Rodin while remaining outside. Regarded as the father of modern sculpture, several of his masterpieces, including “The Thinker,” are nestled among plants and trees. You may purchase an inexpensive garden-only ticket without ever going indoors.