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What a year 2020 has been—I think we’re all a bit relieved to be leaving this year behind us. In France, we have only been out of lockdown for two weeks, and restaurants and bars don’t open until January 20.
This doesn’t leave much room for celebrating New Year’s Eve out this year, so at home it is. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate New Year’s Eve like the French, even if at home. Here are some tips to help make it a special night:
You can’t celebrate New Year’s Eve without popping a bottle of Champagne. The number one top-selling Champagne in France—and number three worldwide—is Nicolas Feuillatte. And it’s easy to see why. They have great special edition bottles and are also on the more affordable end of the spectrum.
Then there’s the Champagne of choice of Marie Antoinette and Marilyn Monroe: Piper-Heidsieck. Marie Antoinette was their first brand ambassador and Marilyn Monroe once said: “I go to bed with a few drops of a very famous perfume and I wake up with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck.”
If you like your Champagne pink, you can’t go wrong with my personal favorite: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé. And last but certainly not least, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque is a bottle of Champagne that looks as good as it tastes.
Like Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve is a night for indulging in the best gourmet delicacies that France has to offer. For apéro, think oysters, smoked salmon, caviar (budget allowing), and foie gras. For main, duck or turkey. Follow it up with a cheese platter, bien sûr.
Set the mood with some French music. If you want to dance and like electronic music, there’s Daft Punk, Justice, M83, and Yelle. On the more indie/pop side of things, you have Christine and the Queens, Julien Doré, The Pirouettes, and Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains. If you’re into rock, Phoenix, or genre-defying La Femme. Zaz and Brigitte are great for indie/folk lovers, and for some Latin reggae check out Manu Chao.
On New Year’s Eve, French people often watch the presidential address, or les vœux présidentiels. Unfortunately, this year’s fireworks display at the Arc de Triomphe has been cancelled. Instead, the City of Paris has organized a virtual concert hosted by Jean-Michel Jarre at Notre-Dame! You can watch “Welcome to the other side” online.
Unlike us Anglophones who associate mistletoe (gui in French) with Christmas, the French actually kiss under the mistletoe on New Year’s Eve. So make sure you string up a bunch somewhere strategic for your midnight kiss…
Cards and Gifts
French people don’t send Christmas cards, they send New Year’s cards instead to wish their family and friends a bonne année. The French also often give monetary gifts called étrennes to thank those who work for them, such as their guardian/guardienne, cleaner, postal worker, garbage collectors, the police, and pompiers (firefighters). In fact, New Year’s Day is popularly called Jour des Étrennes.
- Find out how to prepare a French holiday meal
- The next French event after NYE is Galette des Rois and here’s where to find the best ones in Paris
- More ideas on how to spend NYE in Paris here!
Written by Ali Postma for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.