1 million people gather on the Champs-Élysées in Paris to see the new year | France
A surprisingly large crowd of one million packed the Champs-Élysées to celebrate the start of 2023, after two years of Covid cancellations – with Paris officials calling it a ‘rebirth’ among people wanting to reunite again and a taste of the future great gatherings for the 2024 Olympics.
French authorities expected around 500,000 Parisians and tourists to flock to the avenue, where a massive 340kg fireworks display was set off around the Arc de Triomphe at midnight during a musical spectacle special.
But a staggering million people from Paris, across France and tourists from as far away as the United States and Australia crammed into dense, maskless crowds on the avenue amid high police. The crowd was evacuated shortly after the fireworks ended after midnight.
The last Parisian New Year’s gathering on the Champs-Élysées took place on December 31, 2019, with 250,000 people in attendance. In 2020 it was canceled amid Covid restrictions. Last year’s gathering was canceled to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.
“It was almost 2 million people if you take the widest perimeter,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said. “It went as well as it could have done.”
Ninety thousand police have been deployed across France for the New Year celebrations. Darmanin said on Sunday there had been 490 arrests across the country, up from 441 the previous year. A statement from the Home Office added that there had been a “historic” drop in the number of vehicles burned, with 690 cars torched this year, compared to 872 in 2021. In recent years, car fires on the evening of the New Years had become a major problem. concentration for the police.
French President Emmanuel Macron used his televised New Year’s address to claim that 2023 would be the time for his pension overhaul – a key and controversial part of his election platform. Macron’s first push to overhaul pensions sparked weeks of protests and transport strikes in 2019, shortly before the pandemic hit and the changes were put on hold.
In the coming weeks, the French government is expected to announce how it plans to raise the retirement age – with a package of pension changes that could spark clashes in the National Assembly, street protests and strikes.
“We have to work longer,” Macron said. He gave no details on changes to his pensions, or the promised overhaul of the immigration system that is expected to go to parliament soon. He said both were necessary measures in difficult times, calling for “unity, boldness and collective ambition in France in 2023”.