What can be more surreal than spending the new year in Paris? At least for me that I live on the other side of the pond and it’s not a trip that I can often do.
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Well, I’m going to tell you how my experience was, where you can go for the New Year countdown and some tips for your trip
New year in Paris.
I had already traveled to Paris on previous occasions, but never for the holiday season or new year. By the way, if you want to know what my first impression of Paris was and what to do in 3 days, click on the link.
So I was excited to see Paris embellished for the holidays. To tell you the truth, I had a bittersweet stay because some not very pleasant things happened to us. Anyway, what remains in my memory in positive was the celebration of the new year.
Arriving in Paris
we came by bus to Paris from Madrid, where we spent Christmas. It was a long and heavy ride, not highly recommended. If you can travel other way would be better. Anyway, we took a bus from the Eurolines company, which in spite of some disadvantages, is a good way to travel cheap.
We arrived in Paris at Bercy station, where there is also a train station. It was quite early and we took the subway to go to our accommodation.
The Airbnb that we booked, was not even in Paris, but rather in a region on the outskirts called Montreuil. We were not sure that we would visit Paris on this trip and we booked very late.
I’ll not recommend this appartment, because it’s far and it had some things that we didn’t like. Yet, our hosts were friendly, the area was quite safe and we had a subway station nearby.
You can use this map to get central accommodation in Paris.
Visiting some attractions
We stayed 4 nights to celebrate the new year in Paris. As we had plenty of time we decided to visit some attractions that were pending from previous trips.
Napoleon’s Tomb and Musée de l’Armée.
We visited Napoleon’s tomb and the Army Museum, which is quite big and has an extensive collection. Both are located in the Hôtel des Invalides, a majestic building complex built between 1671 and 1674.
It was not too crowded so we bought tickets quickly and without lines. In an upcoming post I will tell you the details of my visit.
Musée du Louvre
Where we faced a crowd and long queues was at the Louvre Museum. It was expected since we visited on December 31, a day that also, the museum closes early.
It comforts me to know that I was not the only crazy person who visited the museum this day ?. Needless to say that I don’t recommend you to do the same at all. The Louvre museum is one of the most visited in the world and with a huge collection to which you may want to dedicate several hours.
And if you decide to enter anyway because you cannot do it another day, then book in advance. Although that will not prevent facing the crowds inside.
Château de Versailles
One day, we also visited Versailles, you know, to visit the beautiful Château. On our first trip we had already visited it, but we had the feeling that we didn’t explore it as we wanted.
To make the long story short, we could not enter the Palace. unfortunately, I felt sick when we were about to enter and we had to return to Paris. We lost money on the tickets and train tickets.
We had the chance to walk the gardens a little, and honestly are not worth it in winter. The statues were covered and the fountains off. Nothing compared to the beauty they have in spring or summer. To enter is also free, so it’s better to go directly to the Trianon palaces or the main palace.
By the way, when you buy the tickets, the staff usually advise you to visit the gardens first. Their argument is that the palace gets too crowded as everybody starts the tour there.
I think it is better to start with the main palace. Walking the gardens is exhausting even if you just want to reach the Trianon palaces.
We walked for more than half an hour to reach Petit and Grand Trianon just to realize that it was time to enter the Palace. On the ticket they print the time at which you should enter the palace. Actually, I don’t know if after the appointed time they would let us enter.
Notre Dame and Latin Quarter
We also walked around the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Latin Quarter.
The cathedral was quite busy and had a long queue to enter since it’s completely free. Right now I reckon is not possible to visit it though, because it’s being rebuilt after the incident in April.
Around the Cathedral there are several souvenir shops at affordable prices that you will want to see. They are usually Chinese-made products but very typical of Paris.
I like kitchen items such as aprons, placemats, tea cans, etc. There are also usual souvenirs such as magnets, and winter products as socks and hats with images of Paris.
Another ideal area to look for gifts and a very picturesque one is the Latin Quarter or Quartier Latin. Not only there are several souvenir shops but restaurants of all kind. From pizzas to greek food, if you get hungry this is the right place to be.
Where to celebrate New year in Paris
What I highlight the most from this trip was the experience of celebrating the new year in Paris.
The countdown and fireworks are performed on the Champs–Élysées avenue with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.
As we visited the Louvre on New Year’s Eve, we had to rush to the apartment to shower and get ready. We left at about 10 p.m., to take the metro back to Paris. An advantage is that to ride the metro on this night is free.
We took the subway and it was almost empty which surprised us a bit. We didn’t know that the whole Paris was already gathered in the avenue and surrounding streets. Well, I guess we were a bit late.
The closest metro stations to the Champs Elysees such as Charles de Gaulle Étoile, George V, among others were closed. So when we got off the subway we had to walk a long way to get to the avenue.
The other challenge was to be able to enter the avenue, as they closed almost all accesses. So we kept walking and trying our luck in all the streets to enter until voila! Finally we were allowed to go through.
There is much security so be careful what you carry in your bags. If you bring something that can be used as a weapon they will not let you enter.
Celebrating in Les Champs Élysées
First there was a show of lights reflected in the Arc de Triomphe and although we were not very close we could see well. They also set several screens along the avenue to enjoy the show better. Next comes the countdown and fireworks.
I was struck that there was not a single soul who did not record the event with their mobiles, something from this era. I wonder how it would have been about 15 or 20 years ago.
On the way back the subway was full, we took it at the Concorde station, which was the closest we found open. I was very happy after having celebrated the new year in Paris.
Some advices to spend the New Year in Paris
Paris is a very popular destination for these dates (well … it’s Paris!), So you have to take some precautions.
- Book accommodation well in advance, if you want to get cheap and convenient accommodation. I already mentioned that we booked a few days before and almost everything was already taken.
- Arrive early to celebrate the new year if you want to have a good place and see fireworks better.
- Book your tickets to the places you want to visit, especially if they are popular attractions. Oh and avoid visiting them on New Year’s eve (the same applies for Christmas Eve).
- If you are going to take the subway and RER remember to carry enough coins. In Versailles the machines only accepted coins and there were long queues as you cannot imagine. At least we were able to get coins but I saw many desperate people trying to get change. Although, I’ve heard that soon the Paris metro will operate with cards (instead of paper tickets), you have to wait to see what other changes they make.
- Enjoy your stay to the fullest, you are in Paris!
Coming back home
Paris was my last stop, so I took a flixbus to Brussels, which is where my flight departed back home.
I really liked having spent and started the new year in Paris, despite the inconveniences we had. By the way, I come from a tropical climate and I felt very cold, so dress well.
Do you have plans to spend the new year in Paris or where do you use to celebrate? What city is your favorite to celebrate the new year? Tell me how they celebrate in your city. When I am at home we have dinner and sometimes we go to see the sunrise in the bay of my city.
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Thank you for reading, until next post and bon voyage!