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 2013 -- The Year of the Water Snake:
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.
2013 is the year of the Water Snake. The water Snake is associated with the virtues of loyalty and emotional depth, and foibles including cunning, secrecy and vindictiveness.
Chinese New Year in Paris: Street Parades in 2013:
First parade of the year: Marking the first day of the year of the Water Serpent on February 10th, a first parade 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.
Main parade on February 17th: The biggest and most popular of the annual parades, held in Paris's 13th arrondissement near Metro Gobelins, will take place on Sunday, February 17th starting at 1pm. 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!
Other 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 17th) at 10:00 am. This one kicks off with the traditional "opening of the dragon's eye" ceremony which should be-- forgive my pun-- eye-opening!
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.