3 Ways to Have a Perfect New Year’s Eve in Paris

Spending New Year’s Eve in Paris? Aside from learning how to count down backwards in French (trois, deux, un…), you’ll want to keep your eye on some of the chicest ways to celebrate in the capital. Here are just three places you might find us on New Year’s Eve!

1. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris on the River Seine

The Seine is the river floating through Paris, separating the city into the Rives Gauche and Droite. This New Year’s Eve, why not let it be your guide?

This New Year’s Eve boat party takes place on a classic Parisian péniche, docked not far from the central Ile Saint Louis, one of the two islands in the center of the city. The boat boasts not only a dance floor but a huge covered terrace from which you’ll get one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city. Just be sure to book in advance: this party is sure to fill up.

2. A Spectacular Fireworks Show

If fireworks are more your style, the place to be at midnight is the Champs-Elysées. The city of Paris projects a light show on the imposing Arc de Triomphe before unleashing a spectacular fireworks show at midnight.

Of course, if standing out in the cold on the Champs-Elysées doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, you can easily pop a bottle of bubbly and enjoy the spectacle from your hotel room: BFMTV (channel 30) broadcasts the show live.

3. The Early Bird Special

If you want to take advantage of the spectacle of New Year’s Eve in Paris without having to stay up super late, a tour bus of Paris’ various illuminations may be more your style. This Paris by Night tour departs at 5, 6, and 7pm, and for an hour and a half, it will guide you through some of Paris’ most beautiful monuments, all lit up for the end-of-year festivities.

This tour is the perfect way to add a special-occasion flair to your New Year’s Even in Paris while also making sure you get home in time to get a good night’s rest – so you’re ready to explore the city on the first day of 2018!

yule log - buche de noel

Parisian Christmas Foods: Uncovering Festive French Faves

In France, Christmas dinner is often defined by rich, gourmet foods: from caviar to foie gras to a special cake designed just for Christmas, the French know how to do holiday meals up right.

Unlike many American families, who opt for a buffet-style Christmas dinner, the French Christmas meal is usually served in courses.


Appetizers or hors d’oeuvres may either be fish- or meat-based. The former is more popular with religious families, as Christmas dinner is usually served on the 24th (Christmas Eve) rather than the 25th (Christmas Day), and Catholic tradition demands a fish-based Christmas Eve dinner.

That said, religious or not, many French families choose to enjoy oysters, smoked salmon, or even caviar for this first bite of the Christmas meal.

foie gras

Many other families opt for escargots instead, and nearly every family will serve foie gras: in fact, one poll shows that 76 percent of French people couldn’t imagine a Christmas dinner without it.

For the main dish, turkey is a popular choice, though capon and Guinea hen are also common, served with chestnuts, potato gratin, or mashed potatoes. The main is followed by a cheese course and then dessert: the classic bûche de Noël.

It’s perhaps no surprise that in such a pastry-minded society, there’s a cake designed just for Christmas. The bûche or Yule log is a genoise cake filled with buttercream and often decorated to look like an actual log, complete with marzipan or meringue mushrooms. You’ll find some version of this cake in nearly every pastry shop in Paris, with some of the more elaborate going for upwards of 100 euros a cake.


Of course, some French people opt for something a bit simpler (and easier to digest): a clementine.

christmas market in paris

5 Festive Activities to Celebrate the Holidays in Paris

If you’re in Paris for the holidays, you’re in luck! The City of Light does it up right in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there are lots of ways that you can get in on the celebrations.

1. Go to A Christmas Market

Christmas markets are a tradition that you’ll find all over Europe, and Paris plays host to over a dozen options. A full list of the Christmas markets that will be open in Paris this season is available here, but be sure to check out some of our favorites:

  • The new Christmas market at Les Halles has just become the biggest in Paris, with 70 individual cabins selling goods from all over the world. Families with children will love meeting “Père Noël” here.
  • Montmartre is one of Paris’ most picturesque neighborhoods, and when it’s all decked out for Christmas, it’s even prettier! Montmartre is home to two different Christmas markets: one by the Abbesses métro stop and the other just below the Sacré Coeur Basilica. Take an afternoon to stroll through both.
eiffel tower

Image care of Majunznk

2. Go Skating at the Eiffel Tower

Paris isn’t known for white Christmases, but the city does its part to make up for the lack of snow with artificial skating rinks. Usually, the Eiffel Tower puts a patinoire on the first floor of the tower, but this year, big changes are afoot.

While the first story of the tower is still home to a winter wonderland, complete with a family of giant (3-meter-tall) penguins and a Cocoa Corner, the skating rink is located on the ground, within the Champ de Mars Christmas village, making it accessible whether or not you decide to climb to the top of the tower. Entry into the village is free, and it costs 6 euro to access the rink (skate rentals included!)

Champs elysées

Image care of David Monniaux

3. Take a Ride Up the Grande Roue

The Grande Roue or Ferris Wheel overlooking Concorde has graced Paris for years, but due to ongoing negotiation problems, it’s possible that this will be the last year you can get this view over Paris. While the roue is open day and night, consider timing your trip to coincide with the Eiffel Tower’s nightly shimmering lights, which  sparkle every hour on the hour for five minutes. There’s perhaps no better way to take in the City of Light lit up in all her splendor.

galeries lafayette

4. Check Out the Decorations at the Grands Magasins

Paris’ department stores do things right for the holidays, with window displays and interior holiday decorations galore. The Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres) and Printemps (64 boulevard Haussmann) are both good options, but our absolute favorite is the Galeries Lafayette (40 boulevard Haussmann), complete with a tree stretching towards the 19th century ceiling and a rooftop view (just take the escalators all the way to the top – no purchase needed!) over the city.

notre dame

Image care of Theud-Bald

5. See the Christmas Tree by Notre Dame

Paris may not rival New York’s Rockefeller Center in terms of tree size, but the sapin on the parvis in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is nothing to spit at. Pay it a visit one evening to see it all lit up, and then enjoy one of the regular free concerts taking place at the cathedral itself in the days leading up to Christmas.

Top image care of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

arc de triomphe

Top 5 Delicious Treats for Warming up in Paris

vin chaud - mulled wine

Image care of Jameson Fink

Winter has arrived in Paris, and that means lots of twinkle lights, Christmas markets, and, yes, rapidly falling temperatures. Luckily, Paris has just the thing to take the chill off.

1. Vin Chaud

Vin chaud is called mulled wine in English (a better term, in our humble opinion, than the direct translation of “hot wine”). A combination of red wine, fruit, and warm spices, vin chaud can be found at nearly every outdoor Christmas market in Paris. But if you want to try a truly exquisite version of this wintertime classic, head over to Chez Georges, a bistro and wine bar that cooks up our fave vin chaud in the capital.

Chez Georges – 11, rue des Canettes, 6th arrondissement

angelina hot chocolate

Image care of Angelina

2. Hot Chocolate

If you’d like a warm beverage with a bit less of a kick than vin chaud, you’re in luck: Paris, as home to some of the best pastries in the world, is also home to some of the best hot chocolate. There’s no contest for our favorite: the exquisite African hot chocolate at Angelina. The legendary cocoa here is served with a side dish of unsweetened whipped cream – ostensibly to temper the nearly impossible richness of the brew. If you’re traveling with friends, consider ordering one African and one white hot chocolate – the latter is served with a chocolate whipped cream instead.

Angelina – 226, rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement

fondue savoyarde

Image care of Varaine

3. Fondue and Raclette

These two Alpine specialties are classics of après-ski or after-ski dining: the former is a bubbling cauldron of melted cheese and a touch of white wine into which you dip croutons of crusty, day-old baguette. When you order the latter, meanwhile, you’ll be brought an apparatus featuring a half-wheel of melty raclette cheese which you heat and scrape (racler, in French) over a plate of potatoes, cured meat, and pickles. To satisfy all of your cheesiest dreams, Le Brasier is the place to go.

Le Brasier – 58, Avenue des Ternes, 17th arrondissement

french onion soup

4. French Onion Soup

French onion soup was originally invented in the Paris Les Halles market: market vendors would throw a hodgepodge of leftover veg into a pot and cook it up for a nighttime snack. While Les Halles has since shuttered (and Parisian markets these days take place during the daylight hours), you can still find excellent soupe à l’oignon in Paris.

A perfect French onion soup is a labor of love, with deeply caramelized onions and a rich beef broth topped with a generous handful of gruyère cheese before being gratinéed under the broiler. While some still seek it out at holdover restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, located a stone’s throw from where Les Halles once stood, we prefer the slightly less touristy dining room (and even better soup) at Bistrot des Vosges.

Bistrot des Vosges – 31 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 4th arrondissement

roasted chestnuts

5. Roasted Chestnuts

If you want to warm up but you don’t want to slow down, Paris has a solution! For just a few euros, nearly every street corner affords the opportunity to get your hands on a paper cone of freshly roasted chestnuts, which you can snack on as you walk to your next adventure. Bon appétit!