Navigating New Year’s Eve in the City of Lights isn’t easy. If you want to make sure your soirée is a success, here’s your guide to acing it.
Paris takes on a peculiar personality on New Year’s Eve. At once convivial and festive, it also suddenly becomes harder to crack. This may be due to the fact that Parisians have fled Paris for sun drenched isles like Saint Barth, or to the homestead provinces. It may also be because Paris has no true epicenter, no gravitational black hole like Times Square in New York, that sucks tourists straight into its immense field of commercial glare.
The real reason why New Year’s Eve is oddly quiet in Paris is that no great parties occur in clubs, restaurants, or bars. The best NYE events in Paris are in Parisian homes, over seafood dinners and slick bottles of champagne.
Not familiar with many Parisians? No invitation to stay up all night discussing the finer points of existence, Sartre, and François Fillon with the locals? No apartment rooftop on which to perch to ring in 2017?
For recent arrivals, travelers, or those with family in tow, here’s a guide to welcoming the New Year in Paris, while avoiding the pitfalls and tourist traps.
True, it’s nowhere near as bright as Times Square…but you didn’t come to Paris for a New York party! Come huddle with thousands of Frenchmen to enjoy a spectacular lights show projected on the Arc de Triomphe.
BEST FOR: First timers to Paris, families with children 8+, those comfortable with crowds.
MAKE SURE TO AVOID: Bringing any form of alcoholic beverage. Police will mercilessly confiscate your champagne–even if it is Veuve Cliquot.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Get there early. Seriously.
New Year’s Eve dinner is just as much a production in France as is Christmas dinner. If you’re not in the mood to cook or are simply too tuckered out after Christmas to dream up another six-course menu, let someone else do the work.
BEST FOR: Lovebirds, small groups of friends, families with children 13+
MAKE SURE TO AVOID: As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a quality meal, the Champs-Elysées and the 5e arrondissement near Saint-Michel should be avoided like the plague. At the same time, getting a last minute reservation at a fancy place will be near impossible. Lasserre and Lucas Carton? In your dreams.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Do your research and make reservations well in advance. Many restaurants will also have a special menu for the evening, so it pays to ask ahead of time.
For a delicious evening that isn’t outrageously expensive, a couple of our favorites are:
Paris by Mouth also has an incredible restaurant guide for NYE, with listings by price range.
PARTY IN THE CLUB
Ready to get your groove on? If you’re looking to bust a move on a nuit blanche, the club is the place for you. As with dinner reservations, club-goers would be wise to plan carefully beforehand. Pickpockets, seedy crowds, inflated entry prices and scammy promoters abound on NYE. Be selective.
BEST FOR: Study abroad students, 20-30 somethings down for jam-packed venues, the brave, bold and glitter-bedecked.
MAKE SURE TO AVOID: Any clubs near Châtelet and the Champs-Elysées.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Head over to the Palais de Tokyo for the dancefloor, enjoy the Machine du Moulin Rouge near Pigalle, or Silencio in the 2nd.
SOIRÉE ON THE SEINE
Elle sort de son lit, tellement sure d’elle…la seine, la seine, la seine! The river Seine is a spectacular sight, so what better way to spend your NYE? From river cruises to bars along the berges, take in all of Paris lit up for the occasion.
BEST FOR: Older couples, those looking for a calm experience.
MAKE SURE TO AVOID: Going to the extreme ends of the river, towards the Bibliothèque National in the east, where there is less public transport. Getting a cab or an Uber on NYE is near impossible, and very expensive.
CABARET AND CHAMPAGNE
Looking to be entertained? Want an immersive, sensorial experience? Feast your eyes on a cabaret show with a glass of bubbly.
BEST FOR: Theater or show junkies, introverts who want a fun evening but don’t like large crowds.
MAKE SURE TO AVOID: No warnings on this option…for now at least!
Enjoy! Bonne année!