Celebrating Chinese New Year in Paris: 2017 Guide

Get a Different Take on Paris With This Colorful Event

Chinese New Year Dragon in Paris
••• Philippe LEJEANVRE/Getty Images

Chinese New Year in Paris has become one of the city's most popular annual events. Paris has a large and thriving French-Chinese community whose cultural influence grows stronger all the time. Parisians of all stripes eagerly crowd the streets of South Paris each year to witness a cheerful procession of dancers and musicians, vibrantly-hued dragons and fish, and elegant flags embossed with Chinese characters.

Boisterous Chinese restaurants are packed to the brim with locals and tourists, and the night set may include special theatrical or musical performances or even film festivals. A truly memorable experience.

Read related: All About Metropolitan Belleville in Paris

Chinese New Year 2017 -- The Year of the Fire Rooster:

In China, the New Year is the most important annual celebration. Unlike its Western counterpart, which always falls on the same day, Chinese New Year changes every year, following a special calendar. Each year corresponds to a Chinese animal sign and is believed to take on the flavor and "character" of that animal. Astrology is a major part of Chinese culture and is rarely regarded as mere cocktail party chatter as it often is in the West.

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster. In the Chinese zodiac, the Rooster is associated with the virtues of boldness, confidence, tenderness and intuitiveness, and foibles including indecisiveness and rigid conservatism.

 

Chinese New Year in Paris: Street Parades in 2017:

In 2017, Chinese New Year officially begins on Saturday, January 28th, with major celebrations to take place in the weeks that follow in various areas of the city. Precise dates will be announced soon: check back here later for more details 

Marais District Parade (Dates and Times TBD)

Marking the beginning of the year of the Fire Rooster, a first parade in the Marais neighborhood on Saturday, February 13th leaves from Place de la République (Metro: République) at around 2:00 pm, following the ceremonial "opening of the dragon's eye".

The cheerful procession of dancers, drummers, dragons and lions will wind through major streets of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (districts) of Paris, including Rue de Temple, Rue de Bretagne, Rue de Turbigo, and Rue Beaubourg, just a block or two away from the Centre Georges Pompidou, housing one of the city's most important museums of modern art and cultural centers. 

Belleville Parades: 

In the northeast Belleville neighborhood, which also includes a large Franco-Chinese community, a parade will leave from Metro Belleville at 10:30 am (precise date TBD). This one kicks off with the traditional "opening of the dragon's eye" ceremony which should be-- forgive my pun-- eye-opening!

From around 3pm on the same day, and back near the Belleville Metro station, more traditional dances, martial arts demonstrations, and other events will animate the area. Make sure to grab some delicious and warming soup from one of the many Chinese restaurants in the area-- or even consider enjoying some traditional Vietnamese Ph'o (noodle and beef soup) at one the many always-crowded eateries nearby.

Participating streets/parade route: Boulevard de la Villette, rue Rebeval, rue Jules Romains, rue de Belleville, rue Louis Bonnet, rue de la Présentation, rue du Faubourg du Temple.

Main Chinatown Parade (Precise Date and Time TBD)

The biggest and most popular of the annual parades, held in Paris's 13th arrondissement near Metro Gobelins, will take place at approximately 1 pm. Coinciding (by chance) with Valentine's day this year, the parade leaves from 44 avenue d'Ivry (Metro Gobelins), winding through Avenue de Choisy, Place d'Italie, Avenue d'Italie, Rue de Tolbiac, and boulevard Massena, ending at Avenue d'Ivry in south-central Paris. Get there early to get a good spot for picture-taking!

Celebration Highlights:

Chinese New Year parades in the French capital are famed for their elaborate decorations (red lanterns, grinning dragons, lions, and tigers, bright orange fish) and for their somewhat boisterous cheer, which usually involves small firecrackers that leave a faint scent of smoke in the air.

Pictures of the Parades from Past Years:

Get some inspiration by browsing through our 2013 gallery of photos from Chinese New Year in Paris. Contributor Gus Turner was on the scene to capture lion dancers, smoke from firecrackers, candles and incense for ancestors, and more.