10 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween In France But Should

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Halloween in France but should if you’re planning on celebrating in France, or you’re just curious.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
photo of Catherine dressed up for Halloween in La Garde France
photo of Catherine dressed up for Halloween in La Garde France

Although Halloween originates from Europe and is believed to be of Celtic origins, in France, it’s often viewed as yet another imposition of American culture on French customs and traditions right after McDonald’s and Ketchup. This alone is enough to make some French people snub their noses at the idea of celebrating and embracing Halloween.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s one of many articles you can easily find of French people expressing their frustration with Halloween infiltrating French culture.

“Halloween: «I’m fed of with imposed American ways!»)  “Halloween: «J’en ai marre des modes américaines imposées!»  

That doesn’t mean that everyone hates Halloween in France or that it’s not celebrated in France.  However, I think it’s important to understand why some French people might be so averse to this imported holiday. 

10 Things You Should Know Before Celebrating Halloween in France


1) Halloween is seen as a threat to existing French traditions

« Halloween n’est pas dans notre culture, il faut arrêter de perdre notre identité et de tout emprunter au monde anglophone »

“Halloween is not our culture; we must stop losing our identity and, most of all, borrowing from the anglophones

The French are fiercely proud of their customs, almost to a fault. Any celebration which disrupts or takes away from those traditions is often seen as a threat.

In the case of Halloween in France, first introduced to France around the mid-’90s, some people think it robs the attention away from a traditional French holiday “La Toussaint,” known in English as “All Saints.”

2) Halloween is tied to the Toussaint holiday.

La Toussaint (All Saints Day) is a Catholic celebration and public holiday in France that falls on November 1st, the day after Halloween. Most French workers have November first off, and school children have roughly 2 weeks off starting mid-October and ending the day after Toussaint. 

The interesting tie between All Saints Day and Halloween is hidden in its name in plain sight. 

Halloween or Hallowe’en, as it used to be known, means “Saints’ evening” and comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve: the evening before All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints Day. 

In other words, Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day. 

3) French children rarely go trick-or-treating door-to-door in France

In all the years we’ve lived in France, we’ve never had more than one, maybe two groups of children come knocking. Most years, we get none. 

I’ve heard that there are towns in France where Halloween and trick-or-treating have taken off, but these are the exception and not the rule, so don’t load up on bags of candy unless you want to eat most of the candy yourself.

The kids who go trick-or-treating generally go business to business, popping in and out to ask shop owners for candy. We’ve done this in Montpellier, and it was so much fun. 

Kids go trick or treating shop to shop in Montpellier and most cities across France

You might also be interested in this: Why The French Hate Halloween and How To Celebrate It Anyways!

4) In general, Halloween is seen as a purely commercial event

I’ve trolled French forums and asked my friends and my friends’ friends what was the one thing they disliked the most about Halloween. Invariably, most of them, even those who enjoy Halloween, agreed that Halloween is too commercial. They don’t like the fact that retailers use Halloween to boost their sales and attract more customers. 

Below are some screenshots of conversations from some people in France talking about Halloween. 

Halloween in France: French people think Halloween is too commercial

5) Costumes are typically scary, not cute.

Unlike in North America, where anything goes, costumes in France are typically scary and ghoulish, like vampires, ghosts, and skeletons.

Costumes of the less scary genre, like kitties, princesses and ninja turtles, are more of a carnival costume when kids get dressed up and parade around the school in their costumes around February and March. 

photo of Catherine dressed up for Halloween in La Garde France
This is the year we celebrated Halloween with friends who threw a party.

6) French people can’t pronounce the word Halloween

I have had countless friends mention that they don’t know how to pronounce Halloween, almost as if it’s just another reason to hate Halloween.

In French, the H is silent, so French people pronounce Halloween without the H like this/AAA-Lo-EEN/.

My French friend posted this comment about Halloween on facebook

7) Halloween parties are more typical than trick-or-treaters

Halloween in France: 10 things you did not know but should

Photo from halloween 2013

Blake and I were lucky enough to make some fantastic friends in France who invited us to their Halloween parties. It’s not commonplace, but it does happen. At the parties we attended, we were the only non-French people.

I was surprised to see that there were very few kids at the parties we attended.

8) You can’t find candy corn in France

Halloween in France: Candy corn does not exist in France except at specialty stores ;

If you hate candy corn as I hate it, then you’ll be happy to learn that candy corn does NOT exist in France. If you really must buy some, you’ll have to order it online at the “American Market” in France. Popular candies in France are Haribou, Tagada and Carambar. 

9) Night of The Grimacing Beets: The French tradition of carving beets in Lorraine on October 31st.

Carved sugar beets a Lorrain tradition during night of the grimacing beets on October 31st

While Halloween wasn’t introduced to France until the 1990s, the people of Alsace-Lorraine, the old department name for the region in northeast France, have been celebrating something called “Rommelbootzennaat,” on October 31st for hundreds of years. 

Rommelbootzennaat” is a German word in the Alsatian dialect celebrated on October 31, the eve of All Saints Day. It’s also known as “Night of the grimacing beets (Nuit des betteraves grimaçantes) in French.

Night of the Grimacing Beets shares a  lot of similarities with Halloween, but according to News outlet France 3, it is older than Halloween. 

On this day, children carve grimacing heads out of huge sugar beets, vegetables and even turnips and place them on windowsills, cemeteries and various places to scare passers-by. 

Children and adults get dressed up in scary costumes, and some children even go hunting for candy. 

You can celebrate with other families at the château Saint Sixte, which hosts the Grimacing beet festival for several days, where kids and families can partake in workshops, shows and tales at nightfall. 

Festival des Betteraves grimaçantes 2014 par MyLorraine

10) Some French people love Halloween

Halloween in France: 10 things you did not know but should

Despite all the anti-sentiment around Halloween in France, you can find plenty of things to do and people to celebrate it with. 

We’ve lucked out and had some great fun on Halloween in France thanks to friends who love celebrating, but if you don’t have friends yet or don’t know anyone, you can wing it as we used to when we first arrived in France and celebrate at home. 

You could also throw your own Halloween party or take the kids to local businesses and retail shops that usually hand out candy to kids on Halloween. That’s what we do in Montpellier.

Or you could do nothing.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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