Watching Lisa kick yellow leaves in the park, got me thinking about where we were last fall. It’s been almost exactly a year since we took Lisa on her first trip overseas, when we spent almost two weeks last October in Paris. Lisa was just a year old then, so she surely doesn’t remember it very well, but I just wanted to reminisce for a while about the things we did to make Lisa’s first Autumn a distinctly Parisian Autumn.
An Autumn Walk Along the Seine River
The main reason we spent so much time walking along the banks of the Seine was that it kept us from getting disoriented. The famous riverwalk passes by many of Paris’ most popular landmarks, and by staying near the water we had an easy way to find our way around. Both sides of the river are highly walkable and stroller friendly. The walk was never crowded, but busy enough that we never felt isolated. Locals and tourists were both enjoying the leisurely path. But the best part was that the walk along the Seine is absolutely beautiful! In Paris, there is no shortage of manicured trees, arranged in rows. As we strolled with Lisa, the leaves, just starting to change color, were waving and tumbling in the breeze. In some areas, the ground was covered with chestnuts, which Lisa was eager to pick up. We didn’t let her eat any, but we did buy a bag of roasted chestnuts from one of many vendors selling them on the side of the road near the more heavily touristed sites.
The river itself was beautiful too. Many ornate bridges, including the legendary Pont Alexandre III cross the river, and we often measured the length of our walks by the number of bridges we passed. Endless boats sail up and down the Seine, and for most of the walk, the Eiffel Tower can be seen rising up over the buildings and trees. The Eiffel Tower itself makes a great ending point for such a walk, but if you want to continue a little further you can make it to the beautiful Bir Hakeim Bridge with its distinctive metal beams and its incredible view of the tower. Here are some of the landmarks that lie along the shores of the Seine:
- The Bir Hakeim Bridge
- The Eiffel Tower
- The Trocadero Gardens
- Pont Alexandre III
- The Petit Palais
- The Grand Palais
- The Esplanade des Invalides
- Jardin des Tuileries
- The Louvre
- The Musée d’Orsay
- The Cathedral of Notre-Dame
And those were just our favorite sites on that route! There are many more. In the fall, the weather was cool enough that we never got overheated (like we sometimes did during our visit in June), and a light jacket was usually enough to stay comfortable.
October Blossoms in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens
In most of the gardens Jake and I have ever attempted to keep, the flowers we planted in the Spring were long gone by the time October rolled around. But what can I say, they seem to know what they’re doing in Paris. Luxembourg Garden is a relaxing and beautiful park to visit, even in the fall, there were thousands of flowers blossoming. Lisa’s favorite part was watching older children play with vintage sail boats rentals in the water, a very iconic Parisian sight.
Staying Dry in Rainy October Paris Weather
You have to admit, getting caught in the rain in Paris sounds a little romantic. In some ways it really is, and in some ways (especially if you have a baby with you) it really isn’t. Either way, if that’s the kind of thing you want to experience at some point in your life, October’s a good time to visit Paris. Most days we had at least one rain shower, and while it didn’t stop us from going out and enjoying ourselves, it did force us to take the weather into consideration. We made sure Lisa’s stroller had a rain fly. She seemed to like watching the water roll down the clear plastic window, and it also helped keep her nice and warm when the wind picked up. Jake’s camera bag has a rain fly as well. So our daughter and our gear were both nice and dry, but as for ourselves we kept forgetting to bring an umbrella. Luckily, there are peddlers all over the city. When it’s nice out they are pushing Eiffel Tower key chains and colorful selfie sticks. But when it rains, they switch wares and cheap umbrellas are easy to find.
Update (01/2019): The stroller we are using now is much better for travel than the one we had in these pictures. It might not handle cobblestones quite as well, but a few years of experience have taught us what the challenges of traveling with children really are.
Pantheon & Parisian Cafe
On the morning we went out to do our photo shoot at the Pantheon, we got there a little early. We always try to show up early but this time we had about an hour to spare, and since there was no line forming yet, we decided that there was no need for us to stand there in the morning chill. To be clear, the weather in Paris in October is pretty comfortable, but if you get up at dawn you’ll want a jacket. Fortunately for us there was a cafe with a good view right down the street. We wound up getting two photo shoots in that day. The pantheon was beautiful, but who doesn’t want a picture of themselves sipping a coffee and nibbling a chocolate croissant at a Parisian cafe? In June, the only drink we wanted in Paris was an icy glass of water, but in October in Paris a hot drink and a heat lamp were just what the docteur ordered.
Fall Foliage in the Versailles Gardens
As photographers, Jake and I tend to start gushing whenever we about our trip to Versailles. Apart from the number of tourists, the seasons don’t have much of an effect on the inside of the palace. But in the Versailles Gardens make up most of the scenery there (at least geographically speaking). We have only been to Versailles in the Fall, but even with our limited experience we could tell that it was drastically different from what you could expect at other times of the year.
Some of the gardens were without flowers, but others, especially near Mary Antoinette’s palace, were still blossoming. The vast forests of carefully planted and manicured trees were turning colors. Scenes that are surely picturesque in the full green of summer, looked almost haunting in October. The blanket of brown leaves on the ground felt almost like a metaphor for the time gone by encapsulated in the grandeur of Versailles.
Visiting Versailles is a commitment of time and resources, but it’s an amazing place to take some photos. If you want to get the most out of your camera while you’re there, consider having a look at Jake’s new e-book, Easy Manual Mode Photography, which will help you take creative control over you images without getting bogged down in jargon.
One of Our Favorite Cities
We’ve been to Paris twice now, once in the spring and once in the fall. The Spring was lovely with it’s flowers, but we liked the fall the best. It was easier to stay warm in the fall than it was to stay cool in the spring, and with the wetter weather the streets weren’t quite so dusty. Or maybe it’s just because our October trip to Paris was our first, and there’s just something special about the first time you duck into a Parisian creperie to escape the Autumn rain.