'City of Light' Paris shines a little dimmer amid energy crisis

The Champs Elysee and Eiffel Tower's usual sparkling illuminations are being switched off earlier this year

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Paris, famed around the world as the City of Light, is shining a little dimmer this Christmas as it tackles the rising cost of energy.

Thousands of people cheered at the Champs Elysee lighting ceremony on Sunday as the champagne-coloured display sparkled for the first time this year.

Parisians hugged in the glow of the festive sparkle but the lights this year will be on a strict curfew.

Amid the energy squeeze, the Comite des Champs-Elysees has cut the duration of the lights by one week, and they will be turned off at 11.45pm instead of 2am. Christmas eve and New Year’s Eve will stay at 2am switch off.

The aim is to save 44 per cent of the usual amount of energy used in the festive period.

Lights at the Eiffel Tower — which are normally on until 1am — are already being switched off at 11.45pm, as soon as the last tourist leaves.

French actor Tahar Rahim and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo inaugurated the Christmas lights on the Champs Elysee during a ceremony in Paris on Sunday evening.

French actor Tahar Rahim (centre), Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo (left) and guests switch on the light. AFP

And red, the festive theme colour for the previous three years, was swapped for the champagne-coloured lights.

To ward off any gas or electricity shortages in the coming winter, France’s government is aiming for a swift 10 per cent reduction in the country’s energy use by encouraging energy-saving measures.

French towns and cities have not waited for the government to act, with a growing number already turning down thermostats in swimming pools, sports halls and other venues. Some are also switching off street lights at night.

France, like many countries in Europe, is tackling a cost-of-living crisis as energy prices rise dramatically on the back of the Ukraine war.

Many in Paris also hope the City of Lights will evolve further, becoming a city of fewer lights.

For many local people, the high-intensity lights are too much.

A study, carried out by the Paris Region Institute from April to July last year, asked 2,778 residents of the capital and the wider Ile-de-France region what they thought of the lighting.

Of those, 95 per cent said they want “invasive” night-time city lights turned down, and some were starting to talk of an off-switch for some of the lights.

Eighty-two per cent of Parisians said the never-ending light was preventing them from seeing the stars and 83 per cent complained that public night lighting was shining into their bedrooms.

Nearly 65 per cent said they suffered negative health effects because of sleeping problems linked to the lighting.

Updated: November 21, 2022, 1:29 PM
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