As I perch on a bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg and gaze at the perfect lines of trees whose leaves have burst out in to striking tones of red, yellow and gold I realise just how much I love Paris in the autumn.
I enjoy the fact that the large hordes of excited tourists have largely disappeared from the city’s A-list museums making it easier for me and a few other visitors on my Friday night Louvre visit to appreciate the meaning behind iconic artworks such as Venus de Milo and The Mona Lisa.
The distinct lack of crowds in the autumn makes it easier to behave like a local. Rewind a couple of months and I might have been stuck behind several slow-moving tour groups faced with a 2-hour wait to enter my favourite cathedral. Now I’m free to roam the streets of Le Marais, walk straight to the front of the queue at the boulangerie and take a proper photo outside the beautiful Notre Dame.
The extreme heat or (la canicule) which lingers for much of July and August is long gone by November, so walking around one of my favourite cities without the need for high-factor sun cream, the constant refilling of my water bottle and seeking a shady spot in which to momentarily revive myself is a most pleasurable experience.
Despite the dip in temperatures and the shorter days everything is still open in Paris in the autumn. The café terrasses inhabited by throngs of tourists in the spring and summer are now sparsely populated, and are still usable thanks to the advent of portable heaters. Time it right in autumn with the weather and it may just be possible to enjoy dinner al fresco.
What most appeals to me about the City of Light at this time of year is that it is just as beautiful in autumn as it is in high summer, and when that chill does start to pervade the air, I know that I can slip away to any number of Paris cafés and tuck in to a rich and creamy chocolat chaud.