Celebrations throughout the year make Paris an exciting place to be. From welcoming in the New Year, to the Techno Parade, the celebration of Ganesh, and Labour Day … Parisians celebrate their values, their struggles and their joys. These are good opportunities to join in convivial events, whether they be celebrated throughout France or only in Paris.
New Year: 1 January
Spend New Year’s Eve with friends, at home, in the cafés or restaurants that organize special celebrations.
Before midnight arrives, everyone gets together on the Champs-Elysées or at the Eiffel Tower with bottles of Champagne, to await the twelve strokes of midnight and the inevitable New Year kisses, to exchange wishes for health and happiness.
“Fête des Rois” (Epiphany): 1st Sunday after New Year
On this Sunday, bakeries sell tasty “galettes”: round, flat pastries filled with buttery almond paste. A small figurine (“fève”) is baked inside the pastry and if you find it in your portion, you’ll be crowned king or queen.
Valentine's Days : 14 Febuary
The day for lovers. Red hearts and roses fill the shop windows. In Paris, the electronic information boards display the sweetest words of love sent in by net surfers.
Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday): 24 February
This is a day for masked balls and fancy dress. It marks the start of Lent (or fasting) in the Christian calendar so it is often the moment to treat yourselves!
Easter: between 22 March and 25 April
High point of the Christian calendar. Traditionally at this time, the window displays of cake shops and chocolate makers fill with eggs and other chocolate shapes for children to search for in the garden… or in their homes.
“Fête du Travail” (Labour Day): 1 May
Also the day chosen for major union events. On this day too, sprigs of lily of the valley, found on sale in the streets and in florists, are given or received as gifts for good luck.
Fête de la Musique : 21 june
Free concerts throughout the city. Music of all kinds, from classical to techno, rock to worldmusic, can be heard at every street corner. Parisians who sing or play music go down into the streets…
Bastille Day: 14 July
The French National holiday celebrates 14 July 1789 and the French Revolution. A huge military parade on the Champs-Elysées, in the presence of the French President, draws crowds of spectators. In Paris and all over France, this major popular celebration is witness to spectacular firework displays and fun-filled dances on the evening of 13 July, especially those held in local fire stations.
Days of Heritage: 3rd weekend in September
A unique opportunity to discover, free of charge, marvels that are inaccessible during the rest of the year, in Paris and throughout France. Major private or official buildings open their doors to the public.
Volunteer guides are happy to talk to you about masterpieces of civil or religious architecture, parks and gardens, archaeological sites and even industrial heritage.
Beaujolais Nouveau: 3rd Thursday in November
The arrival of the first AOC (“appellation d’origine contrôlée”) wines of the year.
The whole of France celebrates the Beaujolais Nouveau which, though it may not be a great wine, provides an occasion to celebrate with friends in cafés and bistros.
Christmas: 25 December
Celebrating the birth of Christ. This is when you’ll find Christmas markets, ice rinks, decorated windows displays at the department stores, illuminations along the main avenues, such as the Champs-Elysées or the Boulevard Haussmann, nativity scenes and midnight mass.
It is above all a family celebration around the tree and over a good meal: here oysters, turkey, foie gras and Christmas log are on the menu… while presents are exchanged.
Chinese New Year: end January - beginning February
The Chinese community in Paris, for the most part resident in the 13th “arrondissement”, holds its New Year celebrations.
There is a spectacular and colourful parade, with dragons, music and traditional costumes.
Paris Marathon: early April
Bringing together as many as 30,000 participants, representing over 70 countries, to cover the famous 42.195 km around the most prestigious points in the capital: from the avenue des Champs-Elysées to avenue Foch, via Bastille, Nation, Vincennes, the Tuileries gardens, etc.
Foire du Trône funfair: end March to end May
The “Foire du Trône” was once known as the Gingerbread Fair. It used to be held, from 1957 to 1965, on the cours de Vincennes and took the name Foire du Trône from the nearby avenue du Trône, framed by two columns, that links the place de la Nation to the cours de Vincennes.
Located on the Pelouse de Reuilly in the 12th arrondissement, this renowned fair is a huge event. Attractions include a big wheel, spectacular rides, traditional merry-go-rounds, haunted houses, shooting ranges to win soft toys, stalls selling confectionery, waffles ...
Gay Pride: last weekend in June
Lesbian, gay, bi and transgender parade. Protest, fun, themed floats and electronic music.
Lavagem do Sacré Cœur: early July
Procession through Montmartre and ritual washing of the steps of Sacré Cœur, organized by the Brazilian community of Paris. This event is inspired by the festival of the patron saint of Salvador de Bahia.
Participants in this joyful procession, with traditional music and costumes, are all dressed in white and carry flowers.
Fête de Ganesh: early September
The Indian community of the 10th and 18th “arrondissements” celebrate Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, protector of the home and bringer of luck and prosperity.
Don’t miss this exotic and colourful traditional parade, accompanied by musicians, dancers and rituals.
Techno Parade: mid-September
Electronic music fills the streets of Paris for this big parade.
The young and young-at-heart come here to dance around the numerous floats.
Fête des Vendanges: 1st or 2nd weekend in October
“Nuit Blanche” (Sleepless Night): early October
Visits of artistic and cultural Paris… by night.