Typical New Year's Greetings in French

Paris New Year celebration
The Arc de Triomphe is illuminated with the standard New Year greeting on December 31, 2016. Bernard Menigault / Contributor

The French really know how to celebrate the New Year's. Indeed, New Year's in France is not just a day, or a day and an evening, but an entire season. Saying "Happy New Year" in French involves knowing basic New Year's greetings as well as learning French New Year's greetings related to the season.

Typical French New Year's Greeting

In English, you say "Happy New Year." But the French generally don't say "new" when wishing someone a great year. Instead, in French, you say only "happy year," as in:

  • Bonne année > Happy New Year

The French usually follow this expression with a phrase that literally translates as "have a good health," as in:

  • Bonne santé > Good health to you.

To really understand how to send New Year's greetings, it's helpful to learn that in France, citizens celebrate the New Year's (or holiday) season for more than a month. 

Sending Greetings for the Upcoming Year

The holiday season in France starts with la Saint Nicolas on Dec. 6. The holiday season actually ends on Three Kings Day (l'Epiphanie) when you typically eat une galette des rois (a wafer of kings) on Jan. 6.

Confusing matters even more, it's customary to wait to send out your good wishes for a French happy (new) year until the end of January. These examples show what you might write on greeting cards to your French friends wishing them a happy new year.

  • Toute la famille se joint à moi pour vous souhaiter une joyeuse année 2019: que la santé, l'amour et la réussite vous accompagnent dans tous vos projets. > The whole family joins me in wishing you a joyful year in 2019: Let health, love, and success be with you in all your projects.
  • Une année se termine, une autre la remplace: voici une merveilleuse occasion de vous adresser tous mes vœux de bonheur et de réussite. > A year ends, another one replaces it: Here is a marvelous occasion to send you all my wishes for happiness and success.
  • Je te souhaite une très bonne année 2019, pleine de projets, de rencontres et de belles surprises. > I wish you a very happy 2019, full of projects, encounters, and beautiful surprises.

Putting the "New" in French Happy New Year

Though you don't say "new" when wishing someone a happy new year on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, you can slip the word in when sending someone a card wishing her well at the end of the holiday season, as in:

  • Tous nos vœux pour cette nouvelle année, ils portent en eux l'expression d'une sincère affection. > All our wishes for this new year. They carry the expression of my deepest friendship.
  • Nous vous envoyons tous nos meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année et vous embrassons bien fort. > Sending you all our kisses for the new year.
  • Que te souhaiter de mieux que la santé dans ta vie, la prospérité dans ton travail et beaucoup d'amour tout au long de cette nouvelle année. > What best could we wish you more than health in your life, prosperity in work, and lots of love throughout the New Year?