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New Year, Parisian-Style: Parties, Traditions, Parades, and More
If you're lucky enough to be in Paris to usher in the New Year, the city of light offers plenty of ways to say Bonne année! In our book, Paris is one of the most colorful and exciting places to celebrate New Year's Eve, whether your preferred style is clubbing the night away, a good meal with a view, or a simple glass of champagne shared with a small group of friends or loved ones.
New Year's Traditions in the French Capital:
In Paris, as in the rest of France, the New Year, or "St. Sylvestre", begins on January 1st and ends February 1st. French people start wishing each other Bonne Année! (Happy New Year!) and exchanging bises (small kisses on each cheek) at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, and mailboxes are then flooded with greeting cards and gifts throughout the month. So don't be surprised if you hear wishes for the new year throughout January, and feel free to return them. Learning the French expression above and using it is likely to get an especially warm response!
Champagne... or sparkling white wine? The two are not to be confused if you wish to avoid lengthy lectures; both are drinks of choice on New Year's Eve in the French capital. Whether you opt for the "real" champagne (from the region of the same name) or a high-quality sparkling white such as a Crémant de Loire or Crémant de Bourgogne (the latter hailing from the prestigious wine region of Burgundy), a festive atmosphere is nearly guaranteed. Vin chaud (hot wine) and alcoholic cider from Brittany are other popular choices. Of course, if you're celebrating the New Year at a restaurant or party, plenty of non-alcoholic libations are available at most spots, from juice to soda and sparkling non-alcoholic cider.
A common Paris treat for the New Year are papillottes: these are chocolates or other confections that pop like small firecrackers when you tear off the wrapping. You can buy them in any Paris supermarket or confectioner's shop.
Firecrackers and smaller fireworks can be legally bought and sold in Paris, to the surprise of some. Whether you find it amusing or irksome, be aware that street celebrations often include the launching of small, but potentially dangerous, fireworks. While these are usually harmless, do be vigilant.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no "rule" on how to dress for a major event like New Year's Eve in Paris, and while the city counts a greater-than-average number of impeccably dressed fashionistas, plenty of others hit the town in jeans and warm sweaters to enjoy the New Year. Do make sure you follow any dress codes for individual restaurants, New Year's parties, or other events, though-- it's not unusual for higher-end venues to apply stringent dress codes against sneakers, jeans, or t-shirts at the door.
Are there "official" fireworks for the New Year in Paris?
Official Firework shows have been all but absent in Paris on the 31st in recent years, so you unfortunately shouldn't get your hopes up for seeing any on the skyline for New Year's eve. You'll probably see a few small ones launched by private groups, however.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
02 of 03
Best Places to Celebrate the "Nouvel An" in Paris
Major Spots to Celebrate:
If you like to countdown to the New Year in the warmth-- literal and figurative-- of a crowd, there are several places around the city where thousands of residents and visitors traditionally gather to uncork the champagne and shout "Bonne Année!"
The Champs-Elysées Grand Parade: Center of the Party
The Champs-Elysées is the place to head if you want to be at the center of the party. Starting at around 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve, people start to flock to the famed avenue. From many places on the Champs-Elysées, you can get a good view of the Eiffel Tower, which generally displays a sparkling dance of light at the stroke of midnight. There are also plenty of spots to go dancing or dining before or after midnight in the area.
Although the ambiance here is usually "bon enfant" (literally-- "good child", or harmless), celebrating on the Champs-Elysées calls for you to be especially aware of your personal belongings, as pickpocketing is common in large... crowds. This also won't be the partying spot of choice for you if you're claustrophobic or crowd-shy. You should also be aware that, while many if not most people flout the rule by bringing along bottles and/or plastic flutes, alcoholic beverages may not be consumed here or in other major areas around the city where people are congregating for the new year. You can be fined if caught doing so.
In 2017/2018, the Arc de Triomphe at the head of the city's grandest of avenues will be the site of a special event starting from 11:00 pm (to be announced later in the year). Some are anticipating fireworks this year, but no one can promise them as of yet. On January 1st, 2018, meanwhile, a festive New Year's parade will proceed down the Champs-Elysées, starting at around 1:00 pm. The other good news is that the Champs will be closed off to all automobiles from New Year's eve to 6:00 pm on New Year's Day.
Sacre Coeur Festivities: Stunning Panoramic Views Of the City
The Sacre Coeur plaza in Montmartre is another favorite, and significantly calmer, place to bid farewell to the current year. Assuming the skies are relatively clear, the knolltop vantage affords spectacular views of the entire Paris skyline. While still crowded, the Montmartre street party is more laid-back than its Champs-Elysées counterpart, and there are plenty of bars, cabarets, and clubs to explore in Montmartre and nearby Pigalle. If you're looking for a less conventional way to celebrate New Year's in Paris, partying in Montmartre may be the ticket.
(Read related feature: Best Spots for Gorgeous Panoramic Views of Paris)
New Year's Dining and Shows:
Paris being one of the culinary capitals of the world, you'd only expect to find plenty of restaurants here offering special New Year's Eve menus, some at reasonable prices, others a bit steeper.
Along with dinner, why not feast your eyes on a traditional cabaret show? New Year's is a perfect time to indulge in all those Parisian cliches that everyone should experience at some point.
Traditional Restaurants and Brasseries
The Flo restaurant group is famous for its traditional French brasserie fare. Special New Year's Eve dining is offered at the following of their restaurants:
A less expensive option than the traditional cabaret show or thematic dinner? Catch a casual dinner elsewhere and opt for a simple Seine river boat tour to soak in the lights and festive ambiance.
Continue to 3 of 3 below.
- Bateaux Parisiens offers a New Year's dinner cruise dinner cruise that includes musical entertainment, a bottle of Pommery champagne, and other special treats. Make sure to reserve at least 24 hours in advance.
- Yachts de Paris also offers gourmet New Year's Eve dinner cruises on the Seine river. The dinner cruise lasts two hours, includes an aperitif, dessert, and coffee, and offers gorgeous views of some of the city's most remarkable sights (Notre Dame Cathedral, Tuileries Gardens, Concorde).
Reservations are required: +33 (0)144 541 470
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Where to Party in Paris for New Year's: Best Bars and Clubs
Wondering where to party on New Year's Eve? Here are our top picks and suggestions for a memorable 2017/2018:
New Year's Eve Shows and Cabarets:
New Year's Eve at the Moulin Rouge is a classic, albeit extremely pricey, way to celebrate the New Year in Paris. Starting at an exorbitant 680 Euros (approx. $805) per person in 2017-2018, the evening includes a caviar, lobster, and champagne dinner, dancing and music with the Moulin Rouge Orchestra, and a post-midnight show designed especially for the New Year. The evening is topped off with a surprise gift for each person attending. There are less expensive packages available that offer fewer frills and perks, but be aware that these, too, are prohibitively expensive for many visitors.
Lido is another classic Paris cabaret offering a special New Year's Eve dinner and show-- again, at an exorbitant per-head rate. Located on the Champs-Elysees, the Lido New... Year's Eve show may include a bottle of champagne, lobster dinner, champagne, specially-choreographed show, and post-midnight festivities. The price per person for 2017/2018 starts at 580 Euros (approx. $687), but a more inexpensive dinner and show package is 490 Euros (approx $580).
If these pricey options suit neither your budget nor your style, check this page (at France Tourisme) for plenty more packages for the coming New Year-- including boat cruises, dinners and shows at other fun (if less touristy) cabarets).
Read related feature: Top Traditional Cabarets in Paris
Dancing and Clubbing:
If your main ambition for New Year's eve is to dance the night away, you're in luck: there are scores of clubs in the capital that celebrate the occasion in style and fun. Check out our guide to the best dance clubs and nightclubs in Paris, or peruse links to some of these spots reputed for New Year's Eve partying and after-partying in Paris:
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