The Parisians celebrate the coming of the New Year in great style. The main area of events is not only on the Champs-Elysée boulevard but also in a number of other interesting locations. You can welcome the New Year on a voyage on the river Seine with a view on the panoramic city and with the firework display at your grasp. For the bold, there is the cabaret in Moulin Rouge, for the artistically minded there is the performance I love Piaf at the Edgar theatre, and for view enthusiasts there is a vast and splendid street party by Sacré-Coeur.
How, in reality, were my final days of the year and New Year’s Eve in gorgeous Paris? Preparations for the welcoming of the New Year 2019 were a bit untraditional this year…
New Year’s Eve morning, I realized we were out of coffee, which would definitely be useful after being awake all night on New Year’s Eve. We went out with my husband and daughter in her pram to Champs-Elysée. I was pleasantly surprised, that it was possible to park anywhere and that there weren’t many people in the street compared with other days of the week. It didn’t strike me as anything odd was happening…
Despite this, a line of people were waiting there, as if they were handing out freebies. Also the shop windows of Nespresso, where we were headed, was paneled in by wooden boards. At that moment, my husband told me, that evening protests are in plan. I looked at the pram and at him, and I asked myself, what are we doing here? This is seriously happening on New Year’s Eve?!
I had a coffee and sat down in a comfortable armchair. I asked a waiter, whether he was looking forward to New Year’s Eve. He gave me a horrified look: He was afraid to finish work and walk through Champs-Elysée at night because of the planned protests. I was sincerely sorry for him, and what he said made me finish my coffee a little faster and rush home. You never know, when the situation on the street can turn into madness!
As we’re walking out of Nespresso, and the most famous boulevard is still “calm”. From each side, you can only here a drill and the hammering down of boards on the shop windows of all stores. The only exception is the hotel Four Seasons, which is guarded by the soldiers’ own bodies.
I changed my mind about having lunch at my favourite Fouguet. I wasn’t sure if we’d had time to finish our meal.
During the last few weeks, the street Champs-Elysée turned into a meeting point for protesters in yellow vests. Many of them want to only calmly express their unhappiness with president Emmanuel Macron and his government. Nevertheless, riots start up again and again. Cars are being set on fire, shop windows are broken, and there are desperate fights with the police. I believed, that it was already all behind us, and that the people achieved what they wanted. Yes they have, but now they want more, and precisely on New Year’s Eve!
Therefore, we cancelled our evening plans and decided to welcome the New Year in the comfort of our home.
I absolutely do, but the way the New Year’s Eve night in Paris ended up, truly surprised me and warmed my soul.
We were watching the news, the president had his address to the people and the situation unfolded on Champs-Elysée, where people were slowly gathering since 9 in the evening, and nervously awaited the coming of the New Year. And guess what? The protests didn’t happen!
The people left their yellow vests at home and decided to celebrate the New Year at a great scale and in peace!
More than 250 000 people from all over the world turned up by the Arc de Triomphe, and who knows how many would have turned up had the situation not been what it was. They enjoyed a more than half an hour long, beautiful light display and the most beautiful firework display in Europe. The Parisians, therefore welcomed the New Year in the way that it should be done, so much that I regretted not being there with them. Maybe next time then.
The NYE speeches of people were full of joy and emotion. People in the streets were embracing, and it looked as if the world had changed in a moment. I believe and sincerely wish, that it would stay this way throughout the whole year 2019, and of course in the following years as well!