Spending le Nouvel An  in France

About to spend your first New Year’s Eve in France and unsure as to how to make the most of the festivities? In this Babylangues Toolkit, we have come up with some ideas that you may find useful if you are hoping to immerse yourself in a truly French way of celebrating the New Year.

Firstly, you could enjoy a traditional Réveillon dinner. The French often enjoy a decadent meal to welcome in the New Year, including champagne, or oysters, or foie gras or smoked salmon. This is either eaten at home, or in a restaurant, and, like in Britain, you can expect it to involve kissing under the mistletoe, and dancing at the stroke of midnight.

If you are looking for something a bit more memorable than a traditional Réveillon meal, you could join the residents of Plérin in Brittany, who see in the New Year by jumping into the sea, as part of a tradition called the Bain Saint-Sylvestre (‘New Year’s Bath’).

Alternatively, you could take part in the midnight grape harvest in Viella, a town in the Pyrenees. During this event, Les Vendanges du Pacherenc de la Saint-Sylvestre, the residents of the town attend an evening mass to bless the harvest, before moving in a torchlight procession to the vineyard to begin les vendanges.

Finally, you could of course spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, watching the firework and light displays from the Champs-Elysées, or on a Seine river cruise. Or, if you like skiing, you can say goodbye to 2017 on the slopes at Val d’Isère or Tignes, and then party your way into 2018 at one of the resorts’ nightclubs.

  • Did you know that New Year’s Eve is also called la Saint-Sylvestre in France, after the Pope Sylvestre, who promoted tolerance towards Christianity in the Roman Empire.