French and Parisian festivities

New Year, Nuit Blanche, Montmartre Wine Harvest Festival … find out more about French or typically Parisian festivities.

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.

French festivities

Feu artifice 14 juillet tour Eiffel © DR

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.

 Romantic Paris

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!

Paris Carnival

Fête de la musique - tambours - Tuileries © Paris Tourist Office - Photographe : Amélie Dupont

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.

Easter in Paris

“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

Paris gets musical

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.

Bastille Day

Cierges magiques au soleil couchant © Ian Schneider via Unsplash

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.

 Paris 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.

 Christmas in Paris

Parisian festivities

Techno Parade 2009 © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

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.

More info about Chinese New Year celebrations in Paris

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 ...

More info about funfaires ans merry-go-rounds in Paris

Foire du trône - chaises volantes © DR

Gay Pride: last weekend in June

Lesbian, gay, bi and transgender parade. Protest, fun, themed floats and electronic music.

More info about the gay and lesbian Paris

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.

Foire du trône © DR

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

Montmartre holds its harvest festival for its little square of vineyards and the arrival of the latest vintage. An opportunity for a cheerful celebration.

“Nuit Blanche” (Sleepless Night): early October

Visits of artistic and cultural Paris… by night.

More info about the "Nuit Blanche"

 Paris by night