French New Year traditions explained

feu d'artifice du 14 juillet 2012 sur le sites de la Tour Eiffel

With each new country comes inexplicable or unexpected customs. They’re things you might never have thought of, but are still useful to know. Ever wondered what New Year’s is like in France? Or, are you hoping to look in-the-know this year?

Our resident experts, Sarah (an adoptive française) and Adèle (an expat française) share their tips and secrets for unravelling French customs, and having the best New Year’s Eve yet. Because the French do parties best



Les huîtres – oysters.

Foie gras: “Some people put confiture de figue with it, plus little toasts, others something sugary like mango or pineapple.”

Wintery food, such as raclette or fondue, with a good wine (depending on the region).” 

Shellfish and seafood (depending on the region).


NYE HD 4See the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.

Sarah says: “Some people go to the theatre, too, but that’s normal in England, too.”

Kiss under the mistletoe, even for New Year.”

Buy ‘Le cotillons‘ – a party pack with streamers, party horn (that noisy thing that you blow), hats, etc.

Adèle says: “I think the only tradition we have for New Year’s Eve is to open Champagne at precisely midnight and drink it right away! We also kiss everyone in the room saying ‘bonne année’!”

Survive New Year’s Day

First things first: cure the hangover

“Each region has its stuff, in mine, we are used to eating onion soup with bread croutons! I’m not sure it’s effective! Another solution is to keep drinking and eating, and then go sleep, a lot!”

What happens next?

Adèle says: “In France on New Year’s Day, even if everyone is exhausted, we have a big lunch with family. If New Year’s Eve is celebrated with friends, the first day of the way is meant to spend with family, Champagne (again), foie gras, and a very good and long meal, similar to Christmas day.”

Which French New Year’s customs do you like best? Or least? We’d love to hear it! Tell us in a comment below, or tweet us: @MaVieFrançaise, #MyFrenchNY

Image credits:
1. Feu d’artifice, by y.caradec on Flickr 
2. Noblesse oysters, by Rubber Slippers in Italy on Flickr
3. Champagne!, by f-l-e-x on Flickr 
4. French onion soup in Paris, by A Little Coffee with my Cream and Sugar on Flickr
Note: This popular article has been refreshed and republished at the very end of 2021

About the Contributor

Hannah Duke

“I’m a Melbourne-based journalist, editor, photographer, and blogger dreaming of la vie européenne. I love all things French except for the pigeons: film, food, literature, fashion, and I indulge in this passion as often as possible! Find me on Twitter, or Google+.”

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One Comment

  1. prakash singh Jan 7, 2022 at 9:12 PM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing so informative blog !

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