Celebrating Chinese New Year in Paris: 2019 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. The French capital has a large and thriving French-Chinese community whose cultural influence grows stronger with every passing year. In the cosmopolitan Belleville district, southern Paris near Gobelins, and the district near the Centre Georges Pompidou, different festivities are on offer during the new year period, which generally falls between January and February.

Parisians of all stripes eagerly throng on the streets of the capital to take in a cheerful procession of dancers and musicians, vibrantly-hued dragons and fish, and elegant flags embossed with traditional Chinese characters. Boisterous restaurants selling authentic dumplings, noodles and other fare are packed to the brim with locals and tourists.

Meanwhile, after-hours festivities include special theatrical and musical performances or even film festivals. This can be a truly memorable experience-- one you might well want to incorporate into your wintertime trip to the city. 

2019 Marks The Year of the Earth Pig:

In China, the New Year is the singularly most important annual celebration. Unlike its Western counterpart, which always falls on the same day, Chinese New Year changes every year, following a special rotating 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.

2019 is the year of the Earth Pig. In the Chinese zodiac, the Pig is associated with the virtues of generosity, kindness, optimism and innovativeness, and foibles including gluttony and an inflated sense of ego. 

2019 Celebrations: Street Parades Around Paris

Chinese New Year procession in Paris near the Marais.
 Pixabay/public domain

In 2019, Chinese New Year officially begins on Tuesday, February 5th, 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 (Date and Times TBD)

Marking the beginning of the year of the Earth Pig, a first parade in the Marais neighborhood will likely leave from Place de la République (Metro: République) at around 2:00 pm on the first weekend of the New Year-- 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.

 

Main Chinatown Parade (Date and Times to be announced))

The biggest and most popular of the annual parades, held in Paris's 13th arrondissement near Metro Gobelins, will kick off at approximately 1:30 pm sometime in February. The parade is scheduled to leave, per tradition, 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!

Belleville Parades: 

In the northeast Belleville neighborhood, which also includes a large Franco-Chinese community, a parade will leave from Metro Belleville in the late morning  (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.

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 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 lit for ancestors, and other festive traditions.