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Chinese New Year in Paris

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Chinese New Year Parade Paris 2013
austinevan/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Chinese New Year in Paris

Wushu dancers at a Chinese New Year parade in 2013.

Gus Turner/Licensed to About.com.

Get a Different Take on Paris With This Colorful Event:

Chinese New Year in Paris has become one of the city's most popular annual events. Paris has a large and thriving French-Chinese community whose cultural influence grows stronger all the time. Parisians of all stripes eagerly crowd the streets of South Paris each year to witness a cheerful procession of dancers and musicians, vibrantly-hued dragons and fish, and elegant flags embossed with Chinese characters. Boisterous Chinese restaurants are packed to the brim with locals and tourists, and the night set may include special theatrical or musical performances or even film festivals. A truly memorable experience.

Chinese New Year 2014 -- The Year of the Wood Horse:

In China, the New Year is the most important annual celebration. Unlike its Western counterpart, which always falls on the same day, Chinese New Year changes every year, following a special calendar. Each year corresponds to a Chinese animal sign and is believed to take on the flavor and "character" of that animal. Astrology is a major part of Chinese culture and is rarely regarded as mere cocktail party chatter as it often is in the West.

2014 is the year of the Wood Horse. In the Chinese zodiac, the Horse is associated with the virtues of enthusiasm, warmth, and robustness, and foibles including a tendency to be overbearing and resistant to authority.

Chinese New Year in Paris: Street Parades in 2014:

In 2014, Chinese New Year officially begins on January 31st, with major celebrations to take place on the 2nd and the 9th February in various areas of the city.

First parade of the year on February 2nd: Marking the beginning of the year of the Wood Horse, a first parade on Sunday, February 2nd leaves from Place de l'Hotel de Ville (outside Paris City Hall, Metro Hotel de Ville) at 2:30 pm, following the ceremonial "opening of the dragon's eye". The cheerful procession of dancers, drummers, dragons and lions will wind through major streets of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (districts) of Paris, including Rue de Temple, Rue de Bretagne, Rue de Turbigo, and Rue Beaubourg, just a block or two away from the Centre Georges Pompidou, housing one of the city's most important museums of modern art and cultural centers.

Belleville Parades: In the northeast Belleville neighborhood, which also includes a large Franco-Chinese community, a parade leaves from Metro Belleville on the same day (February 2nd) at 10:30 am. This one kicks off with the traditional "opening of the dragon's eye" ceremony which should be-- forgive my pun-- eye-opening!

Main Chinatown parade on February 9th: The biggest and most popular of the annual parades, held in Paris's 13th arrondissement near Metro Gobelins, will take place on Sunday,February 9th, starting at approximately 1:30 pm. The parade leaves from 44 avenue d'Ivry (Metro Gobelins), winding through Avenue de Choisy, Place d'Italie, Avenue d'Italie, Rue de Tolbiac, and boulevard Massena, ending at Avenue d'Ivry in south-central Paris. Get there early to get a good spot for picture-taking!

Celebration Highlights: Chinese New Year parades in Paris are famed for their elaborate decorations (red lanterns, grinning dragons, lions, and tigers, bright orange fish) and for their somewhat boisterous cheer, which usually involves small firecrackers that leave a faint scent of smoke in the air.

Pictures of the Parades:

Get some inspiration by browsing through our 2013 gallery of photos from Chinese New Year in Paris. Contributor Gus Turner was on the scene to capture lion dancers, smoke from firecrackers, candles and incense for ancestors, and more.

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