Paris is one of the top destinations worldwide for New Year’s Eve, and for good reason. From the Eiffel Tower lights to the camaraderie of the Champs-Elysees, you’ll find plenty of options to craft the perfect Saint-Sylvestre in the City of Light.
Food and Drink
The midnight toast, and much of the imbibing done beforehand, is best made with Champagne in hand, and this is one place in the world where you should discern between the Real McCoy and “sparkling wine.” It’s certainly OK to opt for Champagne’s regionally challenged cousin, but be absolutely sure to get the name straight. Traditional accompaniments to the bubbly beverage are light and expensive, with oysters, caviar and foie gras lining the stomachs of many Parisian revelers on New Year’s Eve.
As in most cultures, the day following the raucous celebration is spent at home, often with brunches of dry toast and alka-seltzer. Close friends and family will exchange their resolutions and, less often, gifts. No culinary traditions emerge until January 6th, the Epiphany, when a frangipane-filled, paper-crown-topped pastry called la gallette des rois, or “king’s cake” is eaten. Whether home-made or store-bought, the cakes are prepared with a hard surprise inside—anything from a dry bean to a trinket—and the lucky winner who bites down on it gets to wear the paper crown all day.
Where to Be
Paris is in high demand for New Year’s Eve, so keep in mind that restaurants will often be booked long in advance and it behooves you to make plans early if you want to dine out. Often the best way to spend the hours leading up to the New Year is to get together for dinner and drinks at home, thereby avoiding crowds, surcharges and notoriously sluggish Parisian service. Many of our Paris apartments are outfitted for entertaining and offer great locations that put you just minutes from the city’s celebratory hotspots.
The Eiffel Tower is, understandably, one of the centerpieces of the “official” celebration. While recent years have seen a movement away from traditional fireworks, the Eiffel Tower is usually still the epicenter of a magnificent light show that can be seen from all over the city. To get a closer look, post up early on the tower’s lawn or across the Seine at the Esplanade du Trocadéro.
The Champs-Elysees is the place to be if you like being part of the counting-down crowd. Hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors from all walks of life gather along the sprawling street to ring in each New Year together. While the celebration is certainly crowded, the atmosphere is much less daunting than other iconic NYE hotspots like Times Square and the Plaza del Sol in Madrid. No matter where you end up when the proverbial ball drops, be sure you’re comfortable kissing anyone (and everyone) in your immediate vicinity, as this sacred New Year’s tradition must be upheld.