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Garden parties in France: Do I have to get permission to host one?

The law is fairly relaxed but there are some precautions to take, particularly if you do not want to create a rift with your neighbours

There are several considerations before hosting an event in your garden Pic: Irene Rios Photography / Shutterstock

Reader question: My daughter is getting married and we want to host a reception afterwards in our garden. Do we have to tell our neighbours about this in advance, or request permission to host it?

Hosting a celebration of some kind in your house or on your land is known as a soirée privée or private party.

The regulations for a private party are different depending on if they are held in a rented location, such as a bar, or on private property, such as in your case.

When holding an event on your property, you do not need to get authorisation from any organisation in advance (such as the mairie), or tell your neighbours about the party – although it might be good to do the latter to keep up good relations.

There is no limit to the number of people you can invite, nor limits on the drinks you can serve.

You still have to make sure though that the party does not cause excessive noise that could be cause for complaint by neighbours, especially if you are partying at night.

Unlike daytime noise complaints– which we discussed in a recent reader question about barking dogs – illegal night-time disturbances (tapage nocturne) do not have to be based on repetitive or intensive noise levels, but can even relate to a single loud moment.

There is no set time that constitutes ‘night-time’ disturbances as opposed to daytime, but it should be during the hours of darkness. The police will determine this if they are called.

The fine for a night-time noise disturbance is €68, or €180 if unpaid in four weeks. 

Read more: French wedding: Can you get married in France if you do not live here

Rules can be different for private events hosted in a rented location such as a hall or bar, where you must ask for authorisation at least 15 days before the event, in the event of hosting an event like a ball or keeping the location open later than its usual hours.

If you are in Paris, you will need to ask for a ‘licence 3’ from the police prefecture to host the event. 

Can I set off fireworks at the party?

If you wish to let off some fireworks as part of the celebration, you do not need special authorisation to use them.

You should, however, contact the mairie to see if there are any prohibitions against using them in your area.

These prohibitions can change throughout the year, as drought conditions (which could cause fires to spread more easily) may limit the ability to use fireworks. 

Fireworks are split into four categories in France - rules on their usage depend on the location you are setting off the fireworks and the age of the person handling them. 

The final category of fireworks (F4) can only be used by professionals at events and are not for home usage.

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