- In Paris, as in the rest of France, the New Year, or “St. Sylvestre”, starts January 1st and ends February 1st. French people start wishing each other cheerful Bonne Années and exchanging bises 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!
- Champagne or sparkling white wine is the drink of choice on New Year’s Eve in Paris. Vin chaud (hot wine) and cider are other favorites. Of course, if you’re celebrating the New Year at a restaurant or party, plenty of non-alcoholic drinks are available at most spots.
- A common Paris treat for the New Year are papillottes, chocolates or other confections that pop like small firecrackers when you tear off the wrapping. You can buy these 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. After the recent attacks there will be police presence everywhere.
Major Spots to Celebrate
- 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.
- 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-Elysees 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.