September has always been a cherished and exciting time in Paris, the City of Light. There's a sense of transition that many people find exciting and stimulating, as summer laziness culminates and a surge of energy from la rentrée—a very French concept that translates roughly as "back to school" but concerns adults too—falls over the city. At this time of year, everything comes out of summer vacation mode, from shops reopening to politicians getting back to work and newspapers grinding out thicker editions again. Even more so than the January 1 New Year in Paris, September is the city's de facto nouvel an.
With the peak tourist season winding down, air and hotel fares take a dip, but the weather is still comfortably warm with less chance of a heatwave. The laid-back, summer-vacation ambiance is still lingering around the city, but most Parisians are back in town, creating an interesting mix of fun and authenticity. Those wishing to avoid the cramped conditions of peak season may find September to be one of the best times of the lower season to visit. Late September is probably the better choice for avoiding the tail-end of high season, however.
Paris Weather in September
September in Paris is pleasantly warm, albeit a bit damp. Rain showers are common, but usually arrive in short and powerful bursts instead of lasting an entire day. The heatwaves that often punctuate the summer months with oppressively hot days—air-conditioning isn't a household appliance in Paris—have mostly subsided by the time September arrives, so you can comfortably walk around during the day without burning up.
The average high temperature starts at 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) at the beginning of the month but drops to 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) by the end. Nights can also be chilly, with an average low temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) throughout the month.
There's about a 23 percent chance of experiencing a rainy day in Paris in September, so if you're there for more than a few days you're likely to see at least some precipitation. There are plenty of indoor activities to keep travelers entertained in Paris on a rainy day, from museums to charming bistros, so keep your itinerary flexible in case you need to make a last-minute change to accommodate the weather.
What to Pack
Since September is the tail-end of summer in Paris, sunny and balmy days are the most probable. You should pack light layers that are easy to remove for both sunny and cooler conditions. Don't forget to bring a hat or visor, sunglasses, and other gear for clear days when you wish to spend time lounging in one of Paris' best parks and gardens. A reusable water bottle helps to save money and plastic, since bottled water can be expensive in Paris. You can fill it up with tap water from your hotel or any restaurant or use one of the drinking fountains scattered about the city—some of which even dispense sparkling water.
A light jacket that's water-resistant is ideal, not only to keep you warm in the evenings but also to slip on in case you get caught in a sudden shower. An umbrella would also be helpful, although if you have limited space they're easy to buy on the street once the rain starts falling.
Bring along good, sturdy pair of walking shoes. Visits to Paris usually involve lots of strolling, and the Paris metro is notorious for its seemingly endless tunnels and stairs. Don't let blisters and aching feet ruin what would otherwise be a fantastic trip.
September Events in Paris
- Jazz à la Villette: This annual jazz festival takes place September 4–13, 2020, at Villette Park in the 19th Arrondissement. Some concerts take place outside to take advantage of the summer evenings, while others are inside the gorgeous Paris Philharmonic building, which is located in the same park.
- Paris Design Week: Paris Design Week is an international festival dedicated to interior design. Venues across Paris turn into showrooms and concept stores exhibiting the latest artwork by designers from all over the world. The 2020 event has been turned into a digital format and takes place from September 4–18.
- Techno Parade: Lovers of electronic music can take a break from nightclubs and dance in the streets at this annual Paris festival. The Techno Parade starts at Place de la Nation and features massive floats with renowned DJs. The 2020 Techno Parade is canceled but returns in September 2021.
- The Paris Autumn Festival: Since 1972, the Paris Autumn Festival or "Festival d'Automne à Paris" has brought in the post-summer season with a bang by highlighting some of the most compelling works in contemporary visual art, music, cinema, theater, and other forms. It starts in September every year and runs through winter.
- Fête de Jardins: The Fête de Jardins—or Paris Garden Festival—is a weekend-long botanical event that takes place in September each year. Gardens around the city that are usually closed to the public open up for free, while the city's most popular gardens host special events to celebrate the fall blooms and Paris foliage.
September Travel Tips
- Since residents around France and Europe are heading back to work and school in September, you can often find great deals for flights and hotels throughout the month, especially in the latter half of September.
- Paris' many tree-lined boulevards begin to turn bright amber, red, and orange throughout September, making it one of the most striking months to enjoy a walk around the city.
- The Champagne region of France—where the world-famous bubbly drink is produced—is an easy day trip away from Paris. The grape harvest usually starts in mid-September, so it's a perfect excursion to escape from the city.
- September can also be an ideal time for experiencing a cruise on the Seine river, especially on hot days when the breeze off the water offers a welcome reprieve.
- September gives visitors the ideal temperatures for taking a walking tour around Paris, as long as the weather stays dry.