How do you celebrate New Year In France? What do the French do, wear, eat on New Year’s Eve? What’s on TV? When and how do you say Happy New Year in French?
This year, of course, everything is a bit different because of Covid 19. There’s a confinement for New Year’s Eve in France… So we’re not going to be partying.
But So let’s see what French people usually do on New Year’s Eve – but first, let’s start by learning the New Year French vocabulary.
1 – 4 Typical New Year Greetings In French
This article features audio recordings. Click the blue text next to the headphone to hear me say that word or sentence in French.
Note that when applicable, I used a modern spoken French pronunciation.
The Typical New Year greetings are:
- Je te/vous souhaite une joyeuse année
- Bonne année 2021!
- Que tous tes/vos voeux se réalisent en 2021
- Bonne année et bonne santé pour 2021
2 – What’s the French New Year Vocabulary?
Here are some French terms and expressions you’ll hear around the New Year in France:
- Joyeuse année ! – Happy new year
- Tous nos voeux pour la nouvelle année – all our wishes for the new year
- 2021 – deux mille-vingt-et-un
- Le Réveillon – used both for Christmas’ Eve and New Year’s Eve
- Une soirée déguisée – costume party
- Une soirée dansante – dancing party
- Faire la fête – to party
- Le gui (hard G + ee) – mistletoe
- Les huitres (zwee tr) – oysters
- Le saumon fumé – smoked salmon
- Le foie-gras – Fancy liver paté
- Le champagne – champagne (sh sound, no tch!)
- Un bêtisier – bloopers
- Une émission de variétés – variety show
- Un feu d’artifice – firework
- Un bal populaire – street dance
Click here to read my article about making New Year’s Resolutions in French.
Here is our New Year’s wishes – from Olivier, Leyla and me.
Now let’s see how the New Year is typically celebrated in France.
3 – How Do You Celebrate New Year’s Eve In France?
New Year’s eve in France is a big deal, and French people often have big parties, sometimes costumed parties. French towns organise fireworks, with live music and dancing.
So let’s see how the French truly celebrate New Year.
4 – What To Expect At A New Year’s Eve Party in France?
French people like to organize costume parties (des soirées déguisées) with a theme, others like to dress to the Nines (se mettre sur son 31), and dancing will be likely at these parties (French people like to dance… a lot!)
New Year’s eve has more of a party vibe in France, and it’s often spent with friends rather than family.
At these parties, people may be discussing their new year’s resolutions “les résolutions de la nouvelle année”…
5 – What’s The Biggest NY Tradition in France?
A big New Year tradition to kiss at the stroke of midnight under le gui (pronounced hard G + ee = mistletoe).
Except from this, we don’t have special traditions in France about New Year’s Eve, except counting down to midnight sharp, when everybody kisses everybody else, cheers, aplaudes, throws confettis and other party streamers (des confettis, des cotillons), blows on whistles (des sifflets) and whistles with a streamer attached (des serpentins)…
6 – What’s The Typical French Food For The New Year in France?
One thing is certain, if you are invited for un dîner de la Saint Sylvestre / Le Réveillon du Nouvel An (New year’s eve dinner), there will be some Champagne, and possibly oysters (les huitres – mind your liaison “lay zueetr”), foie gras (fwa gra) and smoked salmon (du saumon fumé)…
It’s also traditional to serve a turkey, or a goose, or cornish hen. Scallops and lobsters are also popular, so is game meat like venison.
In other words, French chefs will bend over backwards to entertain their guests and serve only the best of the best of French produce and cuisine.
7 – Going Out to a Restaurant for the New Year
Our New Year’s meal is pretty much the same than the French Christmas meal, except that it’s rather common to go out to a restaurant for New Year’s Eve.
Restaurants will offer a special (and pricey) set selection of festive dishes (the set selection is called “un menu“, not to be mistaken with the menu which is “la carte“)
8 – How do French Villages And Towns Celebrates The New Year?
It’s not unlikely for cities to organize fireworks (des feux d’artifice) or a danse (un bal populaire), or even a parade of some sort.
However, if New Year’s Eve tends to be a big thing in France, some people will just have a casual gathering… or snuggle up at home, maybe watch TV… Which brings us to my next question.
9 – Is There A Special TV Program in France For New Year’s Eve?
We don’t really have a special TV program for New Year’s Eve.
There will most likely be “un bêtisier” (bloopers) and a live pop songs show, musical or a variety show… or just a really good movie: maybe even an American blockbuster!
Now, let’s see when the French typically wish Happy New Year.
10 – When Do You Wish Happy New Year in France?
Strangely enough, French people don’t wish each other Happy Holidays or Happy New Year way in advance like I’ve seen it done in the US – over there, come December you greet everyone with a “Happy Holidays”, with your friends but also in stores etc…
It’s not like that in France.
People will say “Joyeux Noël” on Christmas Eve and day, and “Bonne année” the week after the New Year, but that’s about it.
It’s not a faux-pas to do it, people will accept and usually politely return your wishes, but it’s just not done as much.
Wishing you all happy holidays and a wonderful new year 2021!
Did you know that in France the Holiday fun is not over until January 6th – the official end of the Holiday season in France? On January 6th, we celebrate l’Epiphanie with a special pastry: la galette des rois. Read more about it and learn an easy recipe here – bake it and let us know how it was!
Bonne année à tous, may your 2021 progress in French be amazing :-)