Every New Year’s Eve in Paris should start with a great dinner. Unfortunately a huge proportion of Paris restaurants are closed between December 24th and January 6th but lucky for us the very clever crowd over in Paris by Mouth have put together a list of recommendations for New Year’s Eve in Paris, including a list of holiday closures, which you can see here. They recommend Rino on rue Trousseau which will be serving a mouth-watering menu of fish and duck with such inclusions as ‘cod with a fricassée of cabbage and smoked pil pil’. A more central option is Le Mini Palais which is located in the Grand Palais.
Once you’ve finished dinner pick up a bottle of champagne (or cava if you’re on a budget) and some plastic flutes and follow the crowds to Paris’s open spaces. Champs-Élysées is the most popular spot for mass gatherings on New Year’s Eve when the boulevard is closed to traffic. Locals start to arrive armed with bottles of wine and champagne at around 9PM and the party peaks with the countdown at midnight and the overhead fireworks that follow.
The fireworks are of course launched from the Eiffel Tower with the Champs de Mars park out front being the optimum viewing spot. If you want a space here you need to arrive around sunset, pack a picnic and a blanket and be sure to wrap up warm. Restaurants in the Eiffel Tower are open on January 31st but already booked out (not to mention boot-shakingly expensive).
Champs Élysées on New Year's Eve
As a general rule of thumb people will gather in any open spot from where you can see the Eiffel Tower. The Place de la Concorde is popular and of course Butte de Monmartre, the hill upon which the Sacre Coeur sits, is a fantastic spot from where you can see the entire city. Since fireworks can be bought and sold legally in Paris and all over France, everyone and his uncle will be setting them off around midnight to usher in the new year so the show from up here will be spectacular. This is usually a lot quieter than the Champs-Élysées as well as a better spot from which to start pub and club hopping, so if you’re planning on a late one, if you hate crowds or if you’re travelling with kids this should be your pick.
After midnight most people will head inside out of the cold and the city’s bars and clubs will come alive. The best areas for a night out are Canal Saint Martin, Belleville and the Marais for the stylish set; the Latin Quarter for the young and budget-conscious; lower down the hill in Montmartre if you’re there already; and Bastille for your usual run-of-the-mill tourist friendly spots.
If you don’t fancy spending a night out in the cold there are of course other options for New Year’s Eve in Paris. Most boat companies operating on the Seine are offering packages including food and champagne, a lot of restaurants will have a countdown and champagne at midnight and then there are the cabaret and culture shows. Be warned though, these are at a premium on December 31st and a ticket to dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge will set you back a whopping €650 that night. Even if you had your heart set on attending the famous show, it’s probably better to book a nice dinner somewhere else and plan on attending another night.
The Eiffel Tower is the centre of NYE celebrations
Public transport on December 31st will be free with buses and metro lines running until 2.15AM in most cases and feeder buses to cover routes afterwards.
Whatever you choose to do though, be sure to book early if booking is possible. All good restaurants will be booked out soon and a Big Mac and coke doesn’t quite say bonne année like lobster ravioli and a glass of champagne.
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