I asked around and it turns out there there are really three places to spend New Years in Paris.
- Partying it up on the Champs-Élysées.
- Watching the Fireworks from the base of the Eiffel Tower.
- Watching the Fireworks from Trocadero, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.
We opted for #3. Fireworks are cool, and I think the atmosphere of the Champs-Élysées would have been a little lost on two out-of-place Canadians. We figured that we’d get a better view from the other bank, and hoped that we would encounter less people that side as well.
We hopped over to the Metro station at the end of our block, passing dozens of Police Officers on the way. The metro was packed, and we were herded through the passageway like people waiting for a rollercoaster. When the metro finally pulled up it was packed fuller than I’d ever seen it, people’s faces, hands and other body parts were pressed up against the glass. Still, it was a party train. People were singing, kissing, yelling and generally having a great time. As packed as it was, people made room for us as best they could and we somehow managed to squeak on to the car.
Trocadero is only three stops from us, so the ride was pretty short. When we pulled up, the stop was all but empty, maybe 4 people there. Once the train came to a complete stop though, it literally exploded with people, nearly all of whom were singing soccer cheers, national anthems, or general party songs.
We made it outside without incident and managed to secure a pretty clear spot for watching the evening’s events. The Eiffel Tower was already light up, shining blue in the night sky. Around the base are 12 stars that are representing the EU. I think, not sure though, that this has something to do with France’s place in the EU for the latter part of the year. As the countdown began, the lights started going dark, counting down the last 12 seconds of 2008, and of Sarkozy’s reign as the head of the EU.
The crowd cheered, champagne flowed freely, and we toasted each other from tiny yoghurt containers that we’d packed along for the trip.
The fireworks were… lacking. But, people had a healthy DIY attitude and brought along their own. Roman candles were being lit all around us, and the best light show was actually coming from behind instead of ahead of us. One guy got a little bored I think towards the end and started aiming at the backside of the horse statue that was between us and the tower.
When we were ready to go, we decided that the Metro was probably not the best way home. We didn’t really know where we were, but one of the nice things about our location is that it’s a huge people magnet for special events. So, we just followed the largest pack of people and it eventually led us back to our street. We grabbed some Haagen-Daaz from the store around the corner, and headed home for the evening around 3.
Happy New Years everyone!!