How to say Happy New Year in French 

How to say Happy New Year in French 

by Clara Avrillier

Updated November 9, 2022

New Year is a great opportunity to kick bad habits, wipe the slate clean and start fresh. To do this, most of us make New Year resolutions and many people list learning a language as one of them. In France, along with resolutions, there are other interesting traditions for this wonderful time of the year. We’ll teach you how to say Happy New Year in French, show you some helpful New Year vocabulary and help you discover some New Year traditions in France. 

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How to say Happy New Year in French

In French grammar, tu and vous are used depending on who you are speaking to (tu for informal, vous for formal). This means that there are always different ways to say Happy New Year in French depending on the situation. Let’s take a look at some examples.


  • Bonne année (Happy New Year)

This is the most common and simplest way to grant some New Year wishes in French. You can use it with anybody so you don’t need to worry about the use of tu and vous

  • Bonnes fêtes (Happy holidays)

This is another popular expression that can be used in any informal situation. It refers to holidays in general, so can be used throughout Christmas and New Year. 


For more formal situations, for example with your boss or people you have just met, you can use the following expressions: 

  • Je vous souhaite une très bonne année (I wish you a very happy New Year)
  • Je vous souhaite d’excellentes fêtes de fin d’année (I wish you fantastic end-of-year celebrations)
  • Tous nos vœux pour cette nouvelle année (All our wishes for this New Year)

You can use these sayings when speaking to someone, whereas if you’re writing a card, it’s better to use the phrase meilleurs vœux (Best wishes). Although this can be used in different contexts (for example, to celebrate a birthday or a new job), it is standard to use at New Year. 

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New Year vocabulary

Now that you know how to say Happy New Year in French, why not try learning some other New Year-themed vocabulary?

New YearLe Nouvel An
New Year’s EveLe réveillon du Jour de l’An / de La Saint-Sylvestre
New Year’s DayLe Jour de l’An
CountdownUn compte à rebours
To toast
*Learn how to toast in French!
Lever son verre à
Trinquer à
To celebrateFêter / célébrer
Fireworks Les feux d’artifice
New Year resolutionUne résolution pour la nouvelle année

New Year traditions in France

Like in many other countries, France has lots of New Year traditions to celebrate this time of year. On New Year’s Eve for example, it’s very common to celebrate by having dinner with friends or family. There is no set meal, however there are certain foods and dishes that are popular, like foie gras, oysters and smoked salmon. And of course, New Year would not be New Year in France without champagne! 

After the traditional countdown to midnight, people celebrate by throwing confetti, kissing each other and wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Fireworks are commonplace in cities across France, including the famous Arc de Triomphe fireworks held in Paris every New Year. New Year’s Day is usually dedicated to spending time with family.

An interesting New Year’s tradition in France is that the month of January is for wishing everyone a Happy New Year, be it by card, message or phone. Les étrennes (New Year gift) is a tradition whereby people give a small gift to thank others for their hard work, for example, the postman or cleaner. On January 6, the Epiphany, every French bakery sells a galette des rois – this fun tradition is a great way to get the whole family involved! 

New Year, new you!

Now that you know how to say Happy New Year in French, it’s time to start living your dreams and planning that trip to France. Getting to grips with the language is a great place to start and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating le Nouvel An in one of the most wonderful countries in the world.   

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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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