When to Go

Spring and fall are the optimal times to come. The Ile’s renowned gardens look their best in the former, and its extensive forests are particularly beautiful in the latter. From May through June or September through early October, you can still take advantage of memorable warm-weather offerings—such as a candlelight visit to Vaux-le-Vicomte or an evening of music, dancing, and fireworks at Versailles—without having to contend with the high summer heat or the crowds that pack places like Disneyland Paris or Monet’s Giverny, especially on weekends.

Be aware when making your travel plans that some places are closed one or two days a week. The château of Versailles is closed Monday (the gardens remain open), and the château of Fontainebleau is closed Tuesday. In fact, as a rule, even well-touristed towns make their fermeture hebdomadaire (weekly closing) on Monday or Tuesday. At these times museums, shops, and markets may be shuttered—call ahead if in doubt. During the winter months, some spots shut completely (Vaux-le-Vicomte, for one, is closed from mid-November to mid-March). So it's always best to check websites or phone ahead before venturing out in the off-season.

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