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Before I started planning my New Year in Paris, you could say I had rather outlandish expectations. I, honest to goodness, imagined that I would be tottering along to the Eiffel Tower at something-to-midnight, watch fireworks fill the skies and then we all get the metro home. Or, in my case, back to my AirBnB.
What a laugh, right? How simple and lovely that all sounds.
The Parisian authorities don’t do fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Let alone by the Eiffel Tower! Can you even begin to imagine the chaos? But surely I can’t be the only one who thought New Year in Paris would be something extra special?
As it turns out, there are definitely lots of ways to celebrate New Year in Paris. However, it might not be the fairytale you expect, especially on a budget. Does Paris ever turn out to be as we expect?
Here are my honest thoughts on spending a New Year in Paris to help you decide whether it is for you.
Spending New Year in Paris
Is everything still open?
Absolutely! If you’re planning a trip to Paris for New Year, you can be sure that many others from around the country and the world are too. We stumbled on virtually no problems visiting any museum or attraction at the time and date we had planned.
Transport around the city via the Metro is pretty great on New Year’s Eve, too. It is completely free for travel from 5pm on New Year’s Eve until 12pm on January 1st. Most of the main metro lines also remain open all night, so you might want to check if your local metro lines are included.
If I had to pick, the worst times to plan any activities is late afternoon on New Year’s Eve where things might close a little earlier than usual and New Year’s Day. Big attractions such as the Arc de Triomphe and Musee D’Orsay stay open at their set times but restaurants and bars seem to be more obscure.
And it’s a good idea to check the timetables of any churches and cathedrals because they might have special New Years services that may not be open to the viewing public. We were able to gain entrance to the Sacre Coeur on January 1st during the New Year’s Day service but it might not be the same for every church.
But honestly, aside from needing to be slightly more vigilant at double checking opening times on December 31st and January 1st, you shouldn’t have any problems.
What celebrations and parties can you attend?
There may not be fireworks above the Eiffel Tower like I seemed to have invented from thin air, but there are plenty of other ways to bring in the New Year in Paris.
People still congregate around the Eiffel Tower because hello, it’s a rather famous landmark and it does light up all pretty. It still sounds pretty romantic and all those warm bodies will help to stop the winter chill setting in.
The main outdoor/street party that I would compare most to the one at the London Eye is the Champs-Elysées Grand Parade. Parisians flock towards the Arc de Triomphe at about 9pm and there’s a pretty impressive light show at midnight.
The second biggest street party in Paris takes place in Montmartre just outside of the Sacre Coeur. It’s a lot calmer than the Champs-Elysées and since it’s up on a hill, if any fireworks are being set off by locals you’ll definitely see them.
That’s essentially how this guide breaks down. Happy to stand out in the dead of winter, freezing cold for at least 4 hours and then battle hundreds of other people onto the Metro? And maybe hit the clubs afterwards in your big coat and boots? Then you’re going to have a relatively cheap, fun New Year in Paris!
But if you’re after a more comfortable, decadent way to bring in the New Year… you’ll have to be prepared to pay for it.
We went to the Moulin Rouge Cabaret two nights before New Year and it was still €230 for two people and a bottle of champagne at the 9pm show. On the big night itself, you can expect to pay anything from €500 – €1000 per person. I’m NOT kidding. And you’ll need to book waaay in advance.
An alternative way to spend New Year in Paris, also with dinner service and musical entertainment, is a dinner cruise on the Seine river. It might be the most touristy thing ever but I happen to love nighttime cruises along city rivers. I think they’re a great way to soak up a new place. Again, this will set you back about €200 per person – so definitely not a budget option.
Or… You could do what my boyfriend and I did. Bring in the New Year attempting to thaw our toes from the comfort of our AirBnB after a day of walking around the freezing Versailles Palace Gardens. And drinking Italian beer and eating pizza! What else would you eat in France..?
For more options, check out this list of how to spend New Year in Paris from The Culture Trip.
Is it affordable?
Obvs if you’re going to hit up the Moulin Rouge on New Year’s Eve then it’s a big fat no. But a budget airline, AirBnB and a street party? Then New Years in Paris is no more expensive than travelling at any other time of year.
We booked our trip in early July, so it was quite far in advance for us.
Flights with Ryanair from Manchester to Paris Beauvais airport were £80 each and we travelled December 28th – January 2nd.
Our AirBnB for these five nights was £229 in the Montmartre neighbourhood. It was a studio apartment, but it was everything you could want on a budget and close to the metro station.
But just remember it’s freezing in Paris this time of year. We found ourselves diving into the nearest Cafes and restaurants for warmth where we would normally buy street food and snacks from the supermarket to have a little picnic. We definitely spent a lot more on food that we expected to because of the cold weather.
It’s my opinion that Paris at New Year is no more expensive than any other time of year. Maybe marginally more expensive than off-season, but not by much.
It’s also crazy busy. I have only been to Paris once before and it was also busy, so maybe Paris is that busy all year round… but man, it was busy. The Louvre especially was so insane.
The office closures that some workers get at this time of year means it’s definitely worth using them for a long break – and you need a fair few days to make a dent in Paris.
Also, be on heightened alert for pickpockets. Especially at any Parisian street parties, but anywhere really. I have never been pickpocketed (knock on wood) but I almost was outside of the Sacre Coeur. A man purposefully brushed up against me and tried to put his hand in my pocket. A pocket which fortunately was zipped up and empty.
But if I’ve never been pickpocketed anywhere but I almost was in Paris… then it must be more of a problem there.
SO… is New Year in Paris worth it?
Oui! Yes! Yes! Absolument!
Are you planning on spending a New Year in Paris next year? If you need any more tips on Paris, just ask in the comments below.