Love France… New Year’s Eve in France

New Year’s Eve French style is all about partying! Whereas Christmas is about traditional and family, New Year’s Eve has fewer traditions and is more about friends. Here we give you the definitive guide to how to see in the New Year French style…

NYE 2017

New Year’s Eve “réveillon”

Like any French celebration, New Year’s Eve will start with food! A large dinner, called “réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre” or “réveillon du Nouvel An” is served to the group of revellers. Confusingly, this meal is often simply referred to as “réveillon”, which is also the name given to Christmas Eve.

Although there is no traditional main dish, foie gras on toasts, smoked salmon and oysters are the staple of New Year’s Eve dinner. This is a true feast will usually last until midnight.

Just before midnight, people will start the count down from 10 to 1 and then kiss each other on the cheeks wishing “bonne année !” It is a tradition for lovers to kiss under a branch of mistletoe to ensure luck in love. People will also clink glasses of champagne with everyone and throw confettis and other party streamers.

Some cities and towns launch fireworks on the last stroke of midnight. Paris New Year’s Eve fireworks are particularly famous and are filmed and broadcasted on French TV.

NYE champagne

Who to spend it with?

Even though many people spend New Year’s Eve with their family just like Christmas, it is more common for people (especially youngsters) to spend it with friends. New Year Eve is usually less formal than Christmas and spent with a smaller group of people.

And after midnight?

After wishing everyone a happy new year, people will either start dancing or go to a nightclub. It is also very likely (especially if they celebrate it with family) that they will simply get back to eating and talking until late in the night.
From the 1st January until at least mid-February, French people will wish happy New Year to anyone they haven’t seen since the past year. However, it is not common to wish it before it is the New Year.

feu d'artifice du 14 juillet 2013 sur le sites de la Tour Eiffel

Language buddy…

Bonne année ! / Bonne année et bonne santé ! = Happy New Year!
Tous mes vœux pour la nouvelle année = All my wishes for the new year
Le réveillon / le réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre / le réveillon du Nouvel An = New Year’s Eve
Trinquer = to clink glasses
Faire la bise = to kiss on the cheeks
Faire la fête = to party
Les feux d’artifice = fireworks
Confettis = confettis
Cotillons / serpentins = party streamers
Le gui = mistletoe