When we left for Paris almost a year ago, London was in full on Halloween mode. Supermarkets shelves groaning with sweets, the fruit and vegetable aisles bursting with pumpkins. Then, we arrived in Paris. And there was nothing. No Halloween in Paris. The kids were dismayed. No trick or treating. No buckets of sweets. No dressing up. No face painting. France sucks. We hate Paris! Let’s go home!
And this year there is still no Halloween. No one seems to be dressed up, the supermarkets are not filled with trick or treating candy, and the pumpkins are simply for cooking….
Why don’t the French celebrate Halloween?
Halloween isn’t really a big celebration in France. It’s seen as more of an American tradition, and the French, they tend to eschew anything too commercial. Here in Paris, you wouldn’t even believe that Christmas was around the corner. Our local supermarket has a small shelf filled with chocolate advent calendars and that’s it.
What do the French celebrate?
In France we are now on our Toussaints holiday; schools have now broken up for two weeks. November 1 is Toussaints (All Saints Day), a catholic holy day and Bank Holiday. I believe the tradition is to visit cemeteries to honour deceased relatives, and place chrysanthemums on their graves.
Seriously there’s no Halloween in France at all?
Well, things are starting to change, and here and there, a little bit of Halloween can be found. In Paris, there is a big community of expat Americans and yes the Americans do do Halloween!
So, did the kids get Halloween in Paris?
This year they did. I made sure of that!
We couldn’t let this year pass without a celebration of vampires, witches, zombies and all things ghoulish. I teamed up with a couple of American mums, for an early Halloween celebration. I took a pint-sized skeleton and Dracula on the Paris metro to the American Church in Paris, where Halloween was in full swing.
- We discovered candy corn
- The kids entered and never left the haunted house
- We decorated pumpkins
- Got our fortunes told – we would eat lots of sweets, have a great time, and Wonder Boy would be very rich (he’s very happy)
- And then we went to see Gremlins, the original 1894 movie, as part of the children’s film festival right here in Paris. The kids loved it. This added to our ghoulish festivities.
Get spooky and celebrate Halloween in Paris
If you find yourself in Paris and you are looking for some Halloween fun, all is not lost, there are places where you can seek out something spooky:
Halloween at Disneyland Paris
Get spooky with Asterix in Parc Asterix
Asterix and the gang are putting on a spooktacular over at Parc Asterix.
Address: 10 Boulevard Montmartre, 75009 Paris
Travel: Metro line 8 or line 9 Grands Boulevards
Trick or treating at Boneshaker Doughnuts
Boneshaker Doughnuts has brought American style doughnuts to Paris and they are going all out to bring American style trick or treating to Paris. They will handing out candy all day on 29 October 2016 (until the sweets run out).
Pere Lachaise cemetery
Take a wander around the graves and mausoleums in this beautifully eery cemetery. You can pay homage to Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Honor de Balzac amongst others.
Address: 16 rue du Repos, 75020 Paris
Travel: Metro line 2 Pere Lachaise or Philippe Auguste
Musee des Vampires
It’s the world’s only museum dedicated to vampires, run by vampirologist, Jacques Sirgent who also doubles as an English teacher and Bram Stoker translator. You can see a 19th century anti-vampire protection kit and the autographs of every actor who has played Dracula.
Address: 14 rue Jules David, Les Lilas
Travel: Metro line 11 Marie des Lilas
The remains of six million people are stored in the catacombs, a small network of tunnels which are part of Paris’ ancient mines. Remains of the dead were exhumed and transported to the catacombes in the late 18th century from the Holy Innocents Cemetery which had been the oldest and largest cemetery in Paris.
Address: 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris
Travel: Metro line 6 and RER B Denfert-Rochereau