From restaurants to museums to markets, these outdoor activities might surprise you
Ready to dive back into international travel? With our priorities revolving around outdoor activities, Paris’s flower-filled parks, vibrant street art, and cozy alfresco dining are appropriate for this time. Famous monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are majestic to contemplate while staying outdoors in complete safety. With the Seine flowing through its center, expect plenty of detours along the river.
France is currently welcoming fully vaccinated American tourists, with no need to quarantine or show a negative COVID-19 test result to enter. Proof of vaccination will be required at museums, attractions and restaurants, even when dining out. You can apply for a digital health pass, called the Sanitaire Pass, online.
If you don’t receive the sometimes elusive QR code by email before you leave for France (I didn’t receive mine in time for my recent visit), a hard copy of your US vaccination record is an acceptable alternative. .
The City of Lights is a dream vacation for many and the cool fall days are an especially invigorating time to be there. French Bee, a new low-cost airline, is making the tour more accessible, with New York-Paris nonstop flights suited to wallets starting under $ 400 round trip. From a gourmet meal on a patio surrounded by frescoes to a bike ride on a car-free trail, pack a sweater and consider these 10 outdoor activities in Paris this fall and beyond.
The Tuileries is one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris – Photo courtesy of Allison Tibaldi
Enjoy the colorful fall foliage in one of Paris’ beautiful gardens. Squeezed by the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries is a classic French garden with well-tended flower beds and perfectly trimmed lawns. A labyrinth and a carousel are some of its whimsical entertainments.
Across the river, on the left bank of the Seine, are the Luxembourg Gardens, with French and English gardens, tennis courts and a pond filled with models of floating sailboats.
The Jardin des Plantes is a botanical wonderland with medicinal and rare plants, a rose garden and a herbarium.
Street art that makes you dream
Wall art in Paris – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Daniel Thierry
Paris has a rich arts 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 adorning shards of storefronts.
Fluctuart is an urban art center floating on the Seine. Designed as an open-air museum, its permanent collection features works by respected street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey. Every evening, a giant fresco is projected on the Pont des Invalides, illuminating the night sky.
Delicious alfresco dining
Upscale alfresco dining in a serene courtyard – Image courtesy of Starhotels Collezione
No trip to Paris is complete without indulging in its fabulous culinary scene. Many restaurants have recently added outdoor seating and heat lamps, allowing diners to safely break bread when temperatures drop.
Castille Paris is a chic luxury hotel that houses L’Assaggio. Their Michelin-starred chef transforms the edible magic into an inventive menu that blends Mediterranean flavor with French sophistication. Request a table in the peaceful open-air courtyard, where a Roman fountain and suggestive frescoes add romance.
Rives de Seine Park pedal
Cycling along a car-free path along the Seine – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Jacques Lebar
Cycle along the Parc Rives de Seine, a riverside stroll. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site open only to pedestrian and bicycle traffic over a range of seven kilometers. Lined with playgrounds, picnic areas, terraces, cafes and climbing walls, it is a relaxed immersion in city life with a view of some of the great monuments of Paris.
Get your wheels at VÃ©lib ‘MÃ©tropole, the friendly bike-sharing service in Paris.
Serenity on a roof
A rooftop vegetable garden with a view of the Eiffel Tower – Photo courtesy of EVOK Hotels
Get past the urban hustle and bustle and see how Parisians creatively use heavenly nooks and crannies by transforming rooftops into bars, swimming clubs and urban beehives producing luscious honey. Get a taste of farm life on the seventh floor of the stylish Hotel Brach, where a variety of vegetables and herbs grow and a cheerful trio of hens lay fresh eggs. A spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower adds panoramic panache.
The power of the flowers
Beautiful flowers at the flower market – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Fabian Charaffi
Proven outdoor markets sell everything from produce to bric-a-brac. The Flower Market is home to thousands of beautiful flowers, from humble daisies to perky yellow chrysanthemums, a fall favorite. Located on Ile de la CitÃ©, it is an indoor-outdoor market with enough outdoor stalls to satisfy fans of fresh air.
Visit on Sundays and enjoy a simultaneous weekly bird market, where exotic feathered creatures chirp for a storm.
A cemetery immersed in greenery
A cemetery is a relaxing place to stroll – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Marc Bertrand
Historic cemetery The PÃ¨re-Lachaise Cemetery is a lush space with thousands of trees, shrubs and plants covering its rolling slopes. While a cemetery is not everyone’s cup of tea, some will find its cobbled alleys and haunting statues a fascinating place to stroll.
The graves of icons Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin and many other famous souls have made it the most visited cemetery in the world.
City of Parks
Rent a boat and row on Daumesnil lake – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Daniel Thierry
Paris enjoys an abundance of wide open green spaces in its two largest parks. Head to the Bois de Vincennes and paddle a rowboat, play mini-golf or stroll through the woods surrounded by birch, oak and chestnut trees.
The Bois de Boulogne has two lakes linked by a waterfall, miles of hiking, horseback riding and cycle paths, transporting visitors to a bucolic state while remaining within the city limits.
Ride on the river
Immerse yourself in the landscape on a river boat ride – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, Sarah Sergent
Seen from the perch of a riverboat, the cityscape of Paris is unbeatable. There are many ways to drift along the Seine. Batobus stops at major attractions, allowing tourists to hop on and off.
The popular Bateaux Mouches offer a full program of day and night tours lasting around two hours, with commentary in about 20 languages. Bring your camera to take photos of Notre Dame Cathedral, Pont Neuf, the Eiffel Tower, and other famous landmarks.
Sculpture at the Rodin Museum
“Le Penseur” by Rodin to be enjoyed outdoors – Photo courtesy of the Paris Tourist Office, AmÃ©lie Dupont
Paris is famous for its world class museums. At the Rodin Museum, a picturesque garden allows visitors to appreciate the works of Auguste Rodin while staying outside. Considered the father of modern sculpture, several of his masterpieces, including “The Thinker”, are nestled among plants and trees. You can buy a cheap ticket for the garden only without ever going inside.