Purely Paris: Bonne Année!
The Paris New Year fête is le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. Although Christmas in France is all about family, celebrating the New Year can’t be done without friends. This is one of the calendar’s tastiest holidays. So don’t miss its traditions: fresh oysters, champagne and delicious foie gras, on special bread. If you’re the kind of girl who likes lists, here are a few Paris New Year verbs to replace “diet” and “detox.”
1. Goûtez! Taste the moment! Sunday, January 6, is the French celebration of the Epiphany, the English Twelfth Night. Both before and after the date, Paris pâtisseries are full of its special cake, la galette des rois. You have to try at least a slice, so you will have luck in the year. Remember, it goes best with a coupe of champagne.
2. Donnez! Give a little something! Abbé Pierre, who is one of the great modern heroes here, founded the housing charity Emmaüs. The stores resell donated goods to benefit those in need and employ Parisians in difficulty. The Emmaüs stores are great places for “vintage” finds, so their auctions and sales are trendy, landmark events. Emmaüs recently opened its largest site ever, the Bric-à-brac Riquet, at 40, rue Riquet, in the 19th Arrondissement. Its 3,600 square meters are open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shop here or at Emmaüs CentQuatre (also in the 19th). But take along any gifts or clothes you don’t need.
3. Rêvez! It’s time to dream. Specifically, it’s time to think about your next vacation. In the meantime you can enjoy a virtual visit to Turkey, thanks to the (free) exposition at Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton.
4. Branchez! Connect! Now that Twitter has announced it is establishing a French HQ, it’s time to join the 41,000 followers of the city’s account: Twitter Paris. After all, Mayor Delanoë just made Paris and San Francisco “digital sisters.”
5. Relancez! Restart and get your skates on for the rest of winter! Take to the ice at the Hôtel de Ville, which has a large rink for confident skaters and a small one for kids and beginners. It’s open from December 21 to March 17, 2013; Mondays–Fridays, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; free or 5 euros to rent skates. For the first time ever, there’s also ice under the nave of the Grand Palais. Here, the city has installed the largest ice rink ever in France. Use it through January 6, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; adults, 12 euros; children, 6 euros.
6. Organisez! Organize for the year! French diaries are known as agendas and, thanks to the array of choices, choosing one is a pleasure. Inexpensive diaries can be found in the papeterie at Gibert Jeune (these run from September to September, following the school year). But fashion fans may prefer the elegant la Parisienne agenda by Inès de la Fressange—or one of the many fancy varieties at the Louvre’s gift shop, 107 Rivoli. There’s an equally good selection at the Pompidou Center.
7. Remodelez! Want to make yourself over gently? Do it in a historic monument! Piscine Pailleron is part of a whole sports complex whose ice rink, pool and gym are open every day of the year.* Get in shape with a séance of Aquavélo for only 5.50 euros. You pedal underwater for a “cardio and muscle-building.” This requires no reservation, but present yourself at reception an hour ahead to reserve a “seat.” Tickets are sold individually or in groups of 10. It’s located at 32, rue Edouard Pailleron, in the 19th Arrondissement.
*One exception: pool drainings and/or rink refurbishments.
8. Se fait chouchouter! Get yourself pampered! Head for the brand-new branch of Miss Carlota, where you can lash out for fancier treatments or get a less expensive manicure. This new branch, in the 6th Arrondissement, has an aesthetician who speaks English.
9. Tricotez! Knit! Paris plays her part in the woolly winter world of knitting and sewing circles. There is even guerrilla “yarn bombing.” There are a couple of ways to participate. You can follow the public art adventures of Collectif France Tricot (which hosts “knitting apéros” and “street knitting” events). Or, if you don’t speak French, join the Paris Sewing Circle. A knitting group also meets at the American Church (for this, contact Elizabeth Rand at [email protected]).
10. Voyagez! Travel! You’re coming here to Paris, of course. But, whether you’re on your way or bidding us au revoir, this year treat yourself to pair of Perigot pantoufles de voyage (travel slippers). They work equally well anywhere your feet are chilly—or if you just want to spare some fancy flooring. Tip: there is a Perigot boutique at the rue de Rivoli Carrousel du Louvre exit.
Emmaüs Bric-à-brac Riquet
L’appartement Emmaüs CentQuatre
Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton
Hôtel de Ville patinoire
Grand Palais patinoire
Collectif France Tricot
Paris Sewing Circle
Carrousel du Louvre
Editor’s note: Our partner Easy Pass Tours has the perfect way to do New Year’s Eve at the Eiffel Tower—no waiting in line. And if you’re a GG2P Travel Club member, you’ll get a much better deal.