Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Xi Fa Cai!! (Happy New Year! Wishing you happiness and prosperity!). These are greetings you’ll be hearing throughout Chinese communities around the world in the coming days and weeks as they welcome in the year 4717 on the lunar calendar.
January 25, 2020 marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Rat. Success and surplus for those born under this sign. The Vietnamese New Year (Têt) also starts on the same day.
Also called the “Spring Festival”, it’s time for cleaning house, decorating your house with scrolls of auspicious sayings and generally a lot of red décor, hanging lanterns, visiting relatives and friends, indulging in huge celebratory feasts, launching fireworks, and passing out red envelopes filled with money (lai see) to children, single adults, and people who work for you. The more lai see you dish out, the more good luck you receive! See HERE for more on Chinese New Year traditions.
With the Chinese population in France last estimated to be between 600,000 to 700,000, it’s no wonder that there is a thriving Chinese community in the capital city. And when the Lunar New Year – the biggest holiday of the year for Chinese everywhere – rolls around, Parisians join in the celebrations big time!
Each year, the three main Asian communities in Paris – Le Marais, Belleville and the city’s main “Chinatown” in the 13th arrondissement – go all out to celebrate, over nearly three weeks packed with cultural activities and colorful parades. Hundreds of thousands of Parisians flock to these areas to enjoy the festivities. Here’s a guide to where and when to join in the fun!
And before you head out, book a table for a Chinese feast with your family and friends! Check out INSPIRELLE’s Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Paris.
2020 Chinese New Year Activities in Paris
(NOTE: With Paris still on a security alert and now health awareness campaign to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus, always check the official website links for last-minute changes in scheduling for big gatherings.)
LE MARAIS (3rd and 4th arrondissements)
The oldest Asian district in Paris will be host to plenty of Chinese cultural activities, including workshops, film screenings, music, martial arts and dance performances from February 3 to the 8th. The festivities kick off with a beautiful parade. The procession of colorful dragons, lions and tigers starts at from Place de la République, and continues along Rue du Temple, Rue de Bretagne, Rue de Turbigo and Rue Beaubourg. For a full schedule of activities in the Marais, visit the Chine Informations WEBSITE.
BELLEVILLE (10th, 11th, 19th and 20th arrondissements)
Another of the city’s main Asian communities is in Belleville, which is home to many Chinese immigrants from Wenzhou, and the surrounding Zhejiang province. On Sunday, February 2nd, at 10:30am (TBC), head to the Belleville Metro Station in the 11th arrondissement to catch the awakening of the dragon and its accompanying festive parade. Stick around for the dance performances and martial arts demonstrations near the Belleville metro from 3pm onwards. Check HERE for more details.
CHINATOWN (13th arrondissement)
True to tradition, the hub of Asian (mainly Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian) culture and commerce in Paris has a rich, two-week program of activities to kick off the lunar new year, including concerts, films and conferences, culminating with the eagerly awaited gigantic parade, starting at 1pm on Sunday, February 2nd. Around 2000 performers from 40 organizations put on this spectacle of lions and dragons, fireworks, dancers, martial arts and music for an estimated 200,000 spectators, who line up along the streets to watch the colorful procession. The best places to watch are along Avenue d’Ivry, Avenue de Choisy, Place d’Italie and Rue de Tolbiac. For more information about the program, visit the Chine Informations WEBSITE.