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New Year’s Celebrations: ideas to breathe new air!

22 grudnia 2023 Kultura
Widziane 537 wyświetlenia

Winter, the cold, rain, wind, naked trees, early nightfall... Say stop to your blue mood and smile! You’re in France and all of a sudden, everything has a silver lining! What if you could discover France in another mindset? Explore France, the official website for tourism in France presents a handful unexpected, tasty and shiny activities!

“How about a change of scenery for the new year? ”. To this question, Explore France answers with a list of available experiences in France to “enjoy breathtaking New Year’s celebrations”.


Unexpected New Year’s Eve

Among the “1001 ways to celebrate the New Year”, eves are symbolic moments that the website highlights with “unexpected and genuine” eves:

  • a visit at the Vaux-Le-Vicomte palace (close to Paris, with a shuttle at Melun). To celebrate the “Grand Noël” until 7 January. For this new edition, Vaux-Le-Vicomte celebrates party and entertainment in Louis 14th century. Wearing his clothes of light, he accompanies visitors “throughout a festive and family programme so you can become the host of the palace for a day”;
  • snowshoe hike in the Pyrenees mountains. To go “conquer snowy summits and breathtaking landscapes of Aspe Valley for the New Year’s Eve on the snow, far from urban rumble”, a hike with snowshoes on is organised at the Somport Crests, with a night in a igloo!
  • a walk under a Breton lighthouse. In the Finistère region of Ouessant, it’s “we’ll wait for the New Year to to come at the same pace as the Créac’h lighthouse beams”, before drinking a glass of champagne (in moderation) at exactly midnight at the foot of Europe’s most powerful lighthouse;
  • a torchlit march into the Alps. Explore France points out that winter sports resorts organise “a series of evening events during the festive season, culminating in New Year’s Eve”. For example, at Le Corbier, in Maurienne region, the evening of 31st will start on the slopes, where skiers can watch the traditional torchlit descent by the instructors “while warming up with a hot chocolate”;
  • New Year’s Eve wine harvest in the Gers region. Since 1991, in Viella, in the Gers, the Pacherenc winegrowers have been picking the last grapes, accompanied by the locals and visitors for the evening. After this very late harvest, New Year’s Eve celebrations are organised in the village;
  • fishing on the Atlantic Coast. A fishing party is organised on stilts (accessible to disabled individuals), next to Saint-Nazaire in the estuary of the Loire River, from te fishing spot La Ligérienne, in the city Saint-Brévin;
  • a bath on New Year’s Day on the Côte d’Azur. For the last twenty years or so, brave people have been meeting in Antibes for a New Year’s bath, a “revitalising ritual to start the year with fresh ideas”, according to Explore France. But be warned, the water temperature rarely exceeds 15°C!





Enchanting illuminations

Less exotic, but more accessible, the Christmas lights in France this year are simple but still enchanting. Here’s a round-up of illuminations that are more about video mapping - a technique for projecting videos onto volumes by playing with their shapes - than simple lighting:

  • the Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy. Until 7 January, the Place Stanislas in Nancy (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) will be projecting the legend of Saint-Nicolas, patron saint of Lorraine, onto its monumental façades every evening;
  • the façade show in Rennes. A “pioneer in video mapping”, according to Explore France, Brittany’s capital city puts the spotlight on the façades of its most beautiful monuments. This year, a new show, La liste de mes envies (a list of my desires), a “journey full of poetry and good music to put stars in your eyes” will be projected onto the façade of the City hall;
  • a sound and light show in Amiens. Amiens’ Notre-Dame cathedral, the largest in France, is “dressed in lights” for the festive season. Every evening until 31 December, a 50-minute sound and light show will illuminate the façade of the building;
  • the Lantern Festival in Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Park, “the city’s green lung covering 28 hectares”, is hosting the Lantern Festival this winter. This year, the spotlight is on endangered animals, mythical creatures and the legends of “ancestral China” as part of the Odyssée lumineuse (Luminous Odyssey) exhibition;
  • the Cœur de Ville en lumières in Montpellier. From the Musée Fabre to the Arc de Triomphe, the Opera House, the Place de la Comédie, the Prefecture, Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the Promenade du Peyrou, a dozen of Montpellier’s most famous monuments and landmarks will be lit up for the festive season.




Gourmet markets

It’s mainly in Alsace that Explore France is taking its gourmet tour of Christmas markets. But it’s true that it was in this region of France that the first markets of this type were held:

  • In Strasbourg, nicknamed the “Christmas capital”, the Christmas market, created in 1570, is “without a doubt the oldest of its kind in France”. For several weeks, “the heart of the city beats to the rhythm of the Christmas markets, with 300 little wooden houses on every street corner”. The market also includes an eco-responsible off-market featuring local, organic and socially responsible products.
  • in Colmar, there are no fewer than 6 Christmas markets, “enough to satisfy every taste”!
  • Mulhouse is reviving “the town’s tradition and creative heritage” with Etoffe de Noël, a fabric produced especially for the festive season each year, with “patterns and colours inspired by the town's textile history”.




Other towns in France have also set up their own Christmas markets, which may not be as old as they once were, but are just as popular:

  • in Toulouse, for example, on the Place du Capitole, over 100 chalets form a colourful market in the centre of the pink city
  • in Paris, Christmas markets are held in every arrondissement of the capital, from the Tuileries Christmas market to Les Halles, and the Christmas village at La Défense, the Saint-Germain des Prés market and the Notre-Dame market (which is making a comeback this year).


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Christmas markets


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