Paris – City of Less Light for Christmas 2022, but it won’t dim the joy.
Due to the energy crisis, the Paris 2022 festive season will have a little less illumination in the City of Light.
Local authorities are reducing the amount of festive-lit decorations this year to save energy and cut costs. They say the reduced lighting is a ‘subtle change’ which won’t dim the joy.
For example, the 400 trees lining the Champs-Élysées won’t have their usual luminous hoops encircling them this December. Admittedly, the Champs-Élysées committee said that this is not a subtle change, in favour of a ‘drastically limited’ look designed to escape the soaring energy prices which have more than doubled in France. Instead, the trees will have millions of energy-saving LED lights that will be turned on for 6 weeks, rather than the usual 7 weeks, and will also be switched off 2 hours and 15 minutes earlier than usual, at 11:45 every evening, with the exception of December 24 and December 31.
The Champs-Élysées committee said that this change is expected to use 11,500 KWH, which is 44% less than the amount of electricity used in 2021 to turn on the tree lights. Marc-Antoine Jamet, chair of the Champs-Élysées committee, said,
‘Total consumption on the Champs-Élysées will be the same as two people living in a 50-square-metre apartment’ and added, ‘it’s still very joyful.’
Paris officials have also reduced the number and size of outdoor ice rinks and Christmas market hours and the heating of market stalls to reduce electricity. However, there are already more tourists this year, compared with 2021 which had enforced travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The light reductions were instituted before the festive season. In August 2022, President Emmanuel Macron warned that high energy prices, caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, could signal ‘the end of abundance.’
Since September 2022, the City of Light has been the City of Less Light. Monuments, shops, and offices have dimmed their lights. The government imposed restricted hours of illuminated neon lights, screens, and shop windows – with the order to turn off at 10:00 pm – except the Eiffel Tower which keeps its lights on until the last tourists leave at 11:45 pm, instead of the usual 1:00 am lights-out. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said that the ‘energy sobriety’ plan aims to cut energy use by 10% and save about 10 million euros ($10.2 million).
Street lights are left on at night for safety reasons, and so are the lights on all of the bridges over the River Seine.
In addition, thermostats have been lowered in swimming pools and public buildings, and residents have been asked to reduce the temperatures in the homes – despite the near freezing winter weather.
Nevertheless, Parisianers have largely been in favour of the energy-saving measures which are designed to be environmentally friendly as well as cost-effective.