“At the BHV, in front of the windows, there is music with bells. It’s been Christmas. They could have broadcast some, at least, right? ” Florence Legrand expected “To something more magical” because’“We would really need a little more cheerfulness and lightness”. The one who lives in the neighborhood came with a friend, her little dog and her son, Damien, aged 10, to see the launch of the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées, in Paris, Sunday, November 22, at 7.15 p.m. “Usually, all the terraces of the buildings on the avenue are lit”, says this 45-year-old woman. But this year, no party on the rooftops bordering the urban road. “It’s empty, it’s sad”, she judges, before emphasizing how much “It’s always beautiful”.
Last year, on the first day of enlightenment, “During a large popular gathering”, welcomed the Champs-Elysées Committee, its organizer, alongside the City of Paris, more than 70,000 people gathered on the road to shout cheers, with family, take selfies and thus launch the holiday season in the capital. The tourists were there. The Parisians too.
On this Sunday of 2020, they were only a few hundred to be on the Champs, ” by chance, while jogging “Says a 23-year-old athlete, or because” it was the opportunity to step outside », Admits Antoine Ethévenot, whose youngest, Apoline, donned a sequined skirt for the occasion. The model ” is eve, eh, darling? “, slips Elisa, his mother, before agreeing that “All that lacks atmosphere”.
Get the Champs out of the chasm
Because it is without confetti or sound that the 400 trees of the Champs-Elysées were lit in red. In fact, the same red as that of 2019. Black is used everywhere else on avenue du 8e borough. To comply with containment measures aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus, 90% of stores in the neighborhood were forced to close on October 31. The restaurants and hotels on the avenue have also drawn the curtain. The neon lights in the cinemas are off. The granite of the side alleys, because they are empty, appear darker than usual.
The organizers of the event say they are satisfied with this evening, so unprecedented since the setting up of the Champs illuminations, forty years ago. From the top of the building overlooking 140 avenue des Champs-Elysées, singer and actress Louane, godmother of the operation, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, pressed a buzzer to illuminate the avenue for the seven next weeks ; 50,000 people followed its broadcast live, on the Web and on BFM-TV. But the results of this operation at 800,000 euros will not be enough to get the Champs out of the abyss. The 100 traders on the avenue are waiting above all for confirmation that they will be able to turn their cash registers on again on November 28, the possible date for reopening of so-called non-essential shops, and to reconnect with the frequentation of yesteryear; 200,000 to 300,000 people a day flock there, usually during these holiday periods.