Each year, the Chinese New Year festivities attract crowds of curious onlookers. Many of Paris’s districts are colourfully decorated, and parades, events and exhibitions are organized throughout the city. In 2021, Chinese New Year – also called Lunar New Year, Spring Festival or, by the Vietnamese, Têt Holiday – falls on Friday 12 February and marks the start of the year of the metal ox. The usual festivities will not take place this year because of the health crisis, but the occasion still offers an opportunity to learn more about the different Asian cultures present in Paris.
Online cultural events
Chinese New Year is an opportunity to highlight the Asian cultures that celebrate it. To perpetuate this tradition, the Chinese Cultural Centre has carefully designed a varied online programme of events. Each day, between 4 and 26 February 2021, enjoy a short animated film, gala performance, concert or online exhibition. The UGVF (General Union of Vietnamese in France) is also organizing online festivities, including a special Tet show to be live-streamed from its website at 8.00pm on 11 February 2021.
Visit the Asian art galleries
The museums may be closed, but the art galleries are still open! A great opportunity to discover traditional and contemporary Asian art. Don’t miss the Zhuo Qi exhibition at the Paris Beijing gallery, for example. Galerie Loft also has a special focus on contemporary Chinese art from 2 to 27 February 2021.
Other galleries of interest include those of Jacques Barrère (36 rue Mazarine, 75006), specializing in Chinese objets d’art, and Christian Deydier (30 Rue de Seine, 75006), a renowned dealer in Asian art, particularly archaic Chinese bronzes.
Explore Paris, the well-known organizer of fascinating guided walks in Paris and the wider Paris region, offers various online excursions centred on Paris’s rich Asian culture. Take the walk between the Butte-aux-Cailles and Indochinatown on Wednesday 17 or Saturday 27 February, for example, and discover the 13th arrondissement and its hidden treasures.
Just walking through the streets Paris, you’ll come across some unusual edifices that look as though they’ve come straight from China.
At 48 rue de Courcelles in the 8th arrondissement, Mr Loo’s pagoda stands out from its surroundings. Although the museum it houses is currently closed, the building itself is worth the detour for its architecture. The same is true for the former pavilions of the 1931 Colonial Exhibition at Vincennes, which have been transformed into a pagoda. Today it is home to the largest Buddha in Europe, the International Buddhist Institute and the French Buddhist Union.
And in the 13th arrondissement, at Place Augusta Holmes, don’t be surprised to see parts of a dragon emerging from the pavement! This work of art by Chen Zen and Xu Min is called The Dance of the Emerging Fountain.
A gourmet cuisine
Typical dishes prepared for this special occasion include longevity noodles (the longer the noodles, the longer the life), dumplings, Lok Ba Go (Chinese turnip cake) and Bánh chưng (Vietnamese square sticky rice cake). Get a taste of Asia without leaving Paris – numerous restaurants are operating a click & collect or home delivery service.
Our recommendations include Mirama (17 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005) for their Peking duck, Les Pâtes Vivantes (46, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 75009) for typical noodles, La Pâtisserie de Choisy (62 Avenue de Choisy, 75013) for cakes and desserts, Gros Bao (72 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010) for piping hot steamed buns, the Tse Yang restaurant (25 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75016) for their promotion of Chinese gastronomy and Panda Panda (21 rue Juliette-Dodu, 75010) or 21g-Dumpling (167 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011) for their excellent dim sum.
But don’t hesitate to try out local neighbourhood restaurants – they are sure to have some tasty dishes too!
Some more suggestions:
For an immersive cultural experience, shop for some specialities at one of the Tang brothers’ Asian supermarkets, then stop for refreshment at the Maison des Trois Thés (1 Rue Saint-Médard, 75005) before dropping into the attractive Le Phénix bookshop (72 boulevard de Sébastopol), which specializes in Asian and Chinese literature.
What about Greater Paris?
A Forbidden City a stone’s throw from Paris? The Huatian Chinagora Hotel in Alfortville (1 place du Confluent-France-Chine, 94) will come as a surprise. This five-building complex, comprising a luxury hotel, a restaurant with a panoramic view, and reception rooms, is the work of Cantonese architect Liang Kunhao.
At Saint-Remy-L’Honoré, in the Yvelines, the Yili garden is the first traditional Chinese garden to be created in France. Set in six hectares, its design incorporates the principles of yin and yang and architectural elements made from noble materials imported from China. Quieten your mind with a zen moment – a great way to begin the year of the ox!