New York City has its iconic New Year’s celebration with watching the ball drop at Times Square. In other countries and cultures, its either a fireworks show, a midnight meal with the family, or meeting with friends to go out and party the night away. When you are in staying in Paris, the City of Lights, for the New Year there are several activities and traditions that you can partake in to honestly say that you have welcomed the new year in the authentic, Parisian style.
Countdown at the Champs-Elysees
If New York has Times Square where thousands of people gather for the New Year Countdown, in Paris, it is the Champs-Elysees. You can expect the roads to be shut until the next day as massive crowds of residents and visitors flock together to party and greet each other a happy new year. On the way to the avenue, you can also appreciate a sparkling view of the Eiffel tower.
New Year Greetings
Similar to a lot of countries around the world, people greet each other “Happy New Year!” at the stroke of midnight in France. The French greet each other with “Bonne Annee!” and exchange small kisses on each cheek. However, New Year’s greetings do not stop on the eve of the celebrations. Throughout January, mailboxes and post offices are overflowing with New Year greeting cards.
The customary drink for celebrating the New Year in Paris, France is a glass of sparkling wine or champagne. A renowned Burgundy wine is especially preferred for the occasion, the Cremant de Bourgogne. Some would have a high-quality sparkling white wine called Cremant de Loire. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available at parties and celebrations such as sparkling water and cider.
Firecrackers and Chocolate Treats
Buying and selling fireworks and firecrackers is entirely legal in Paris. Tourists that are in the city during the start of the new year can expect the locals, setting off their firecrackers or smaller fireworks. The papillote is a traditional New Year treat in Paris that can be bought at any supermarket or confectioner’s shop during the season. Kids absolutely love them as these chocolate treats pop like firecrackers when you peel them from their wrappers.
Dinner and a Show
For a more peaceful and mellow celebration, other Parisians flock to the areas around the Sacre Coeur Cathedral and scope the streets for a great place to eat. After all, Paris is also known for its reputation in the culinary industry as one of the top food capitals in the world. Restaurants all over the city prepare special New Year’s dinner and menus for people to enjoy. Before and after dinner, people go to watch the cabaret’s post-midnight shows with the Moulin Rouge orchestra. Dinner and show options are also available in many restaurants, especially, those near the Champs-Elysees avenue.
A Cruise down the Seine
This classy New Year activity may sound quite expensive, but they are actually cheaper than traditional cabaret shows in Paris. Riverboats are available for a cruise down the Seine. Other companies offer dinner cruise packages for different prices. The boat rides usually lasts about 2 hours and will pass by the significant landmarks of the city such as the Tuileries Gardens and Notre Dame Cathedral.