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Dec 21, 2011 11:54 AM

Looking for Unique, reservation-free things to do in Paris on XMas + New Year's Eve

Hi all,

There are tons of posts on here about where best to get a reservation on these days (I promise I've tried to do my homework before posting).

But my wife and I are planning a week in Paris starting this Saturday that does not involve any high end reservations. We love wandering cities and discovering gems on our own, and this is our basic plan.

But. We have to imagine that a city as dynamic as Paris has at least a few hidden awesome things to do on XMas Eve/Day and New Year's Eve that would be great to know about in advance. If you didn't have or want a reservation--where would you go to ring in the new year? To grab a bite? To see the locals celebrating, and maybe even partake a bit?

Any and all categories of things, from bars to street food and more, are most welcome.

Thanks in advance!!!!


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  1. Jon, isn't just the high end tt need a reservation in Paris is is any place tt does great food. You will also struggle to stumble on real gems as the restaurant scene is constantly reviewed and dissected so if it is a gem it ain't hidden and it will be fully booked. There are a few newer places that don't take reservations like Frenchies Wine Bar but don't get there after 8:00 if you don't want long wait.

    New Years Eve will be mainly expensive set meals which need booking in advance, and at Christmas many places will be closed and not open until about the 9th Jan - te French love to go on holiday as well and head out of the city.

    1. "If you didn't have or want a reservation--where would you go to ring in the new year? To grab a bite? To see the locals celebrating, and maybe even partake a bit?"

      The obvious places are outdoors: the Trocadero with its view of the Tour, the Pont des Arts, the place in front of Sacre Cour (I know, I know). It will be cold. Drinking alcohol in public is not allowed but condoned if you are well behaved. You'd have to plan ahead and pick up picnic fare or take out. (We often see people late in the evening coming from the St. Germain area carrying take-out parcels to the Pont des Arts.) The crowds will be young and probably mostly tourist. But it will be celebratory.

      For restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Day, consider ethnic areas that do not necessarily celebrate Christmas.

      1. If there are hidden awesome places in Paris, and there are, once they're posted here they're no longer hidden.
        That is why I encourage visitors to discover things on their own, take a look, decide whether to walk in or not... That is in my opinion the best way to explore Paris, and the most likely to enable you to encounter true Parisians. For they're not necessarily after the "best" experience but just something they feel comfortable with, feeling the pulse of their town. Just walk, or take a m├ętro or bus to a random stop, if you see something that attracts you, just go in.

        1. I'd recommend checking out various wine bars: some of my favs are La Cremerie (closes early though), La Patache, and Coinstot Vino, but if you do a search here there will be many more ideas, including a fun recent thread...and oyster places (Huitrerie Regis, and another Pleine Mer was highly rec'd recently)...and brasseries...

          About ten years ago, my gf and i went to Paris on vacation and hazarded NYE w/o first, it was a bit daunting, as most places, even some casual ones, were either closed or fully booked w/ no walkins...but we happened upon an inocuous looking cafe near the Pantheon, which turned out to be the (now sadly closed) restaurant Bar de l'X (on R. de l'Ecole Polytechnique): a rustic place w/ a great rep (but at that time unknown to us)...they made room for us and we had one of the best meals of our lives (poulard, cerf, Bordeaux, armagnac)...after dinner, we had a drink at a near bar Piano Vache, and then took a very very long midnight walk all the way to the middle of the 11th...a great night...moral of the story: NYE might be tricky, but as long you're willing to wing it and grab random tapas or cafe food if necessary, you can still have an amazing night and you might even discover a new favorite restaurant...

          Please report back and tell us how it goes...