It is difficult to visit Paris and expect to see the city and its monuments without crowds and too many tourists. But if there's one month where the queues are shorter and you won't have trouble booking a room or getting a table in a restaurant, it's November.
In October the high season ends and the cold weather picks up, giving the city a break before the arrival of Christmas. In addition, in the penultimate month of the year there are two public holidays that give us the opportunity to do and see different things. Here are my 10 recommendations for one of the quietest months of the year in the French capital.
1. Visit the Invalides War Museum
In addition to All Saints' Day, there is another holiday on the calendar all over the country in November. November 11 commemorates the armistice that ended the First World War and profoundly marked the history of France and its inhabitants. In connection with this event, it is a good time to learn about and experience history at the Musée de la Guerre des Invalides.
Inside this spectacular architectural complex, which was once the residence of war veterans who were invalids, you can learn about the First World War and other war conflicts. The museum has original weaponry, equipment and exhibits about the great war.
You can and should also take advantage of your visit to see Napoleon's tomb in the Dome church. You can find more information in our post on How to visit the Musée des Invalides and Napoleon's tomb in Paris.
2. Good dates to visit the Galeries Lafayette
In the 19th century, along with the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge, department stores and galleries also flourished. Considered temples of luxury and shopping in Paris, there are several that we can visit for our pre-Christmas shopping.
The Galerie Lafayette, on Boulevard Haussmann next to the Opéra Garnier, is the most famous of them all. In November they begin to decorate these stores according to Christmas and take advantage of the dates to attract customers with attractive sales, so it is a good time to visit these galleries.
On the same boulevard are the Printemps department stores for luxury shopping, and close to the Luxembourg Gardens is the Le Bon Marché department store.
3. Visit the tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe
Also on the occasion of the Armistice Day on 11 November, you can visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On the same 11 November, but in 1920, the remains of an unidentified soldier who died in the Battle of Verdun were transferred to a grave in the Arc de Triomphe as a tribute and representation of all those who fell during the First World War. In 1923 an eternal flame was installed and since then it has been rekindled in a small ceremony every day at 18:30.
On this day a special ceremony is held and a giant French flag is hung between the pillars of the Arc de Triomphe. Many Parisians lay flowers in honour of this soldier and this holiday and tourists have the opportunity to see the Arc de Triomphe in all its splendour as a French national symbol.
4. Celebrate the Feast of Beaujolais Nouveau
Every year on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais Nouveau festival is celebrated. This is a young French wine that is harvested in November in the Burgundy region in the French Alps and which can be tasted in all the restaurants in Paris during this festival.
The city's wineries and bistros hold special tastings and it is the perfect excuse to enjoy a good time with your friends and family over a good French wine. As a curiosity, this day is considered to be the biggest wine festival in the world and sellers are not allowed to sell this famous wine until this very day. In Paris, the best place to enjoy this festival is the Montmartre district.
5. A good time to climb the Eiffel Tower without queuing up
The Eiffel Tower is the undisputed symbol of Paris, as evidenced by the thousands of tourists who visit it every day. That is why long queues are common. If you want to avoid them, although it is a complicated mission, the best thing to do is to travel to Paris in low season. November is a very good month for this, with fewer tourists than usual. There are still clear days to enjoy the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower and you won't have to queue as much. It's a winning combo no matter how you look at it. But you'll need to wrap up warm.
6. Take shelter from the cold at the Musée d'Orsay
Paris is also the city of museums, home to some of the world's most important. In the cold days of November it is always a good option to visit them and avoid the weather by seeing works of art. The usual recommendation is to go to the Louvre, which of course is always a good idea, but today my advice is to visit the Musée d'Orsay.
It may not be as popular as its sister museum, the Louvre, but some of the works it houses are known all over the world. Manet's Lunch on the Grass, Van Gogh's Starry Night or his self-portrait are some of the works you can see in this old railway station now converted into a museum.
7. Take advantage of Black Friday to go shopping on the Champs Elysées
In addition to its beauty, the Champs Elysées avenue is known for its shopping. From luxury boutiques to the best-known franchises, there's something special about shopping on the Champs Elysées. And the best time to treat yourself is during the week of 29 November with the Black Friday discounts.
On this avenue you will find some of the most prestigious and well-known brands in the world in shops that will surprise you with their spectacular design. In addition, around this time, the Champs Elysées are already beginning to be lit up and the first Christmas markets are appearing.
8. Enjoy the pre-Christmas atmosphere without the hassle
At the end of November, the streets of Paris begin to display the first Christmas decorations. Although Christmas is still a long way off, it's a good time to wander the decorated streets and enjoy the city and the Christmas atmosphere without the usual crowds that arrive as the festive season approaches.
On the Champs Elysées, the first lights are put up and the first Christmas markets appear in Paris. This is the most popular place in Paris to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Alternatively, I recommend a stroll through the Montmartre district. It's quieter and the decorations are more discreet but just as beautiful and enjoyable.
9. Visit the Statue of Liberty and celebrate Thanksgiving... In Paris?
It may sound strange but it is. The Parisian capital and New York City are more closely related than you might think. So much so that the famous statue in New York was made in France and sent to America in 1886 as a gift for the anniversary of the US declaration of independence.
As a result of the good relations between the two countries, the American country gave a replica of the Statue of Liberty to the city of Paris years later on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the French revolution in 1889. Today the French version of the Statue of Liberty can be seen on Swan Island near the Eiffel Tower. You can take the opportunity to see it by booking a cruise on the Seine next to the entrance to the Eiffel Tower.
Taking advantage of the fact that Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on 24 November, you can take the opportunity to visit this small Statue of Liberty. The Parisian city is also home to a large American community and the Thanksgiving holiday is becoming increasingly popular. It is not uncommon to see some restaurants preparing the traditional turkey on this day.
10. See the famous cemeteries of Paris
All Saints' Day is celebrated in many countries on 1 November, a day dedicated to honouring the dead. In France, the tradition goes beyond the religious aspect and it is common for the famous cemeteries of the cities to be filled with curious onlookers. Even more so in Paris, which has some of the most famous and beautiful cemeteries in the world. However, the 1st is not the best time to visit them as many Parisians go to honour their relatives.
- Père-Lachaise Cemetery: This is the most visited cemetery in the world and is home to the graves of such famous people as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
- Passy Cemetery
- Montparnasse Cemetery
- Montmartre Cemetery
- Pantheon of the Illustrious: located in the Latin Quarter, one of the best neighbourhoods in Paris, very close to the Luxembourg Gardens, this imposing building houses the graves of some of the most important names in the history of France and the world, such as Voltarie, Rousseau and Victor Hugo, among others.
November temperatures in Paris
As you can imagine, in November the temperatures in Paris start to drop. However, it is not until the end of the month that the cold starts to set in. The rest of the month the temperatures are pleasant, with a high of 11 degrees Celsius and a low of 6 degrees Celsius. It is a relatively rainy month, with rainfall averaging between 8 and 14 days, but it does not usually rain with extreme force. So don't forget your umbrella. All in all, temperatures are quite pleasant until the end of the month, but cold or rain certainly won't dampen your visit to such a beautiful city.
The number of tourists in November in Paris
As I have already pointed out, the main advantage of travelling to Paris in November is the reduced number of tourists. November kicks off the low tourist season in the French capital, which generally lasts until May. Although there will never be a shortage of tourists in Paris, the fact is that the main tourist attractions are less crowded. Fewer queues and less crowds.
It should also be noted that 1 and 11 November are public holidays in the country and although most monuments remain open, many Parisians take the opportunity to visit them. The start of the low season also has an impact on hotel prices, which are lower than usual. If you're looking for a quiet month, November is one of the best times to visit Paris.
What to pack for a visit to Paris in November
Be prepared for cold and rainy weather if you decide to travel to Paris in November. And if you're planning to visit during Black Friday, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pack an extra suitcase. So what should you pack for your trip? Here they are:
- Cotton clothes.
- Jackets and waterproof clothes.
- Umbrellas and waterproof boots.
- Warm and, above all, comfortable shoes.
- An extra suitcase for your Black Friday shopping.