Paris lights up Champs Elysees for Christmas

STORY: Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and Cesar-winning actor Tahar Rahim pressed the button to start the illumination, which officials said have been adjusted to consume less electricity.

"It's beautiful, it's just... it's Christmas, it's Christmastime! I just love it, and I wish my children were here, and I just can't wait till Christmas," tourist Kathleen McMurray said as she marvelled at the lights.

Across much of Europe, lights will be fewer, more energy efficient and switched off earlier at night, while shops will be a bit chillier, in keeping with government urgings to rein in energy use and in a show of solidarity with households that face soaring utility bills.

The so-called "sobriety measures" are being rolled out at a time when retailers are seeking to draw in shoppers with events and extravagant window displays – eager to resume celebrations that had been disrupted by the pandemic in previous holiday seasons.

New, energy-efficient holiday lights -- sparkling and champagne-hued-- will light up the trees lining the famed avenue at the end of the month, consuming the same amount of electricity as a modest-sized apartment housing two people for a year -- half the amount of last year's display.

Lights will be turned off earlier at night, and run a week shorter than before.

“We should keep Christmas as is even if times are hard," Champs Elysees Committee President Mac-Antoine Jamet said. “The Champs Elysees is a symbol, we’re not only lighting up the avenue, but also Paris and the entire country."

The Champs Elysee's light display will run every night until Jan. 2, 2023.