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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 10:06 GMT
Pageantry on the Champs Elysees
Giant ferris wheels along the Champs Elysees
Giant ferris wheels along the Champs Elysees
By Stephen Jessel in Paris

Three minutes before midnight, the base of the Eiffel Tower burst into a blaze of light, as if it were a spaceship taking off.

Then a dancing mass of white stars crept up it and the tower was transformed into a column of light and shape and colour in a breathtaking show that lasted in all seven minutes.

Into 2000
The waiting tens of thousands had been disappointed when the electric sign that had patiently counted off the 1,000 days before 1 January broke down five-and-a-quarter hours before midnight.

The romance capital of the world
Paris : The romance capital of the world
It was not restored until after the show was over, when it announced the arrival of the year 2000.

At midnight, the eleven giant ferris wheels spaced along the Champs Elysees began to turn, with their accompanying troupes of artistes, musicians, acrobats and dancers.

Large numbers of police were on duty, but few serious incidents were reported, though many of the revellers had come armed with substantial amounts to drink.

Tens of thousands of foreign tourists swelled the crowds.

Fireworks light up the Eiffel Tower
But the mood was less exuberant elsewhere in France.

Hundreds of thousands of households were without electricity after the two serious storms that have devastated much of the country in the last ten days.

And the Atlantic coast faces serious pollution from an oil spill.

In Strasbourg in eastern France, where the burning of cars has become an annual New Year's Eve tradition, at least two dozen vehicles were reported to have been set on fire.

See also:

31 Dec 99 | In Depth
31 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
01 Jan 00 | UK
31 Dec 99 | Americas
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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