That will change this year, when the French party poopers will at last join the global midnight countdown.
Authorities in the French capital are aware that Paris is “one of the only cities in the world not to send a postcard on 31 December”, in the words of city culture official Bruno Julliard. So this New Year’s Eve the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysées will be the focus of a 15-minute video show leading up to midnight.
“There are always a lot of people on the Champs Elysées,” Julliard told Le Figaro. “And we wanted some beautiful images to be shown.”
Even without the lure of an official display, hundreds of thousands of people converge every New Year’s Eve on the Champs Elysées, prompting the deployment of large numbers of police to deter troublemakers. A total of 300,000 revellers braved the wind and rain last year.
The projection mapping display on the Arc de Triomphe will highlight the Parisian “art of living” and the environment, in a nod to the international climate change summit to be hosted by France in December 2015. Then, in the seconds before midnight, a countdown will play on the monument’s facade, after which illuminations will fill the skies.
The avenue, whose Christmas lights received an environmentally friendly LED makeover this year, is to be closed to traffic for the event. It will remain shut for a New Year’s Day parade featuring floats and bands. The 1 January 2014 circus-themed event involved 600 participants.