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Le Divan du Monde
© Marie Accomato
Paris's Y2K blast-off
by Saskia Corne

Fin de siècle happenings

othing can stop the City of Light when it feels the urge to celebrate. Millennial scrooges claimed that every square inch of Paris, from bars to parking spaces, would be booked solid for months in advance. But more festivities seem to pop up every day; more than enough to entertain Parisian revelers. It’s definitely not too late to make this New Year the party of the millennium. Here’s our pick of ways to say good-bye to 1999.

With the beautiful people
Paris stylemakers and their eager followers will make sure they’re seen at a designer bar or club. Top five hotspots: Barfly, Barrio Latino, Buddha Bar, Man Ray and the Batofar... All planning events for the millennium, mostly in the 1,800F range, including buffet, all-night entertainment and, if you’re lucky, an open bar. The fight is on over big name DJs and qualified staff — the going rate for technicians, waitresses and bartenders has, on average, tripled for the night of December 31.

A l’ancienne
Au Virage Lepic, the somewhat crumbling corner bistro dear to the local “villagers” of Montmartre, doesn’t seem to have changed much from the days when Montmartre was a down-and-out artists’ enclave. Experience the turn of this new century much as it might have been in the last: complete with accordion, dancers spilling out into the cordoned off street and sing-along versions of French musette favorites, with people who really know all the words.

Fit for a king
If nothing but the royal treatment seems fit for the new millennium, you can spend New Year’s eve at the Château de Versailles. After a stroll through the Hall of Mirrors and royal chambers, a gala dinner inspired by Louis XIV’s 280 course feast, and a fireworks display at midnight, you’ll have a free rein of the ballroom where musicians in 18th century costumes will play instruments from the Sun King’s heyday. But, be prepared to part with a king’s ransom — a cool 15,065F.

Up in the sky
New Century’s eve will be your last chance to get a high altitude millennium perspective of Paris. The Ballon Fortis, the largest hot air balloon in the world, tethered to the Parc André Citroën, and the big ferris wheel at the place de la Concorde, will make their last flights on December 31 at 7:30pm and 5:30pm, respectively. Give yourself or the kids a bird’s eye view of the countdown to 2000.

Le Top à la Tour
Alpinists and city planners have been busy grooming the Eiffel Tower for its biggest moment since its opening in 1889. The Tower will be closed to the public December 30-31 in preparation for an unprecedented 20,000 flashing lights and tons of fireworks to be let off, as a giant clock completes its countdown to 0 hour.

On “the most beautiful street in the world”
Twenty ferris wheels, each one peopled with performers and creations conceived by a different artist, will line up along the Champs-Elysées. At midnight, just as the first fireworks explode over the Eiffel Tower, each will be set in motion, tracing a reel of light and live performances from the avenue George V to the place de la Concorde. Expect music, dance, design, cinema and fashion until 2am, and brightly lit streets closed to traffic until dawn. Get a sneak peak of the city’s principal celebrations December 27-29, as artists and performers rehearse for the big day.

New Year’s Eve Musical Parties

Alfredo Rodriguez Septet Hot Cuban combo plus DJs, dancing and champagne to celebrate the New Year at New Morning.
New Morning, 7-9, rue des Petites Ecuries, 10e, Mº Château d’Eau, tel:, 10:30pm to dawn, 300F.

Opus Special menu, live music, DJs, dancing, champagne and surprises.
Opus, 167, quai de Valmy, 10e, Mº Louis Blanc, tel:, 8:30pm to dawn, 980F.

L’Ultima Noche It’s Carnival Time in Rio with latin mixes by DJ Claudio, samba carioca with Duduna and tropical treats.
Le Divan du Monde, 75, rue des Martyrs, 18e, Mº Pigalle, tel:, 10pm-dawn, 300F.

Holiday Preview
Get a jump start on the holidays with these classic Paris festivities.

Holiday window displays featuring animated toys and other goodies at Le Bon Marché (24, rue de Sèvres, 7e, Mº Sèvres-Babylone), Le Printemps (64, bd Haussmann, 9e, Mº Auber-Caumartin), La Samaritaine (19, rue de la Monnaie, 1er, Mº Pont Neuf) and Galleries Lafayette (40, bd Haussmann, 8e, Mº Auber-Caumartin).

Special holiday lights on the Champs-Elysées, rue du faubourg St-Honoré, rue Lepic, the place Vendôme and rue de la Paix. The bridges of Paris will be specially lit for the holidays.

A holiday ice skating rink has been set up for the winter in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Access is free and skate rental 30F. (Parvis de l'Hôtel de Ville, 4e, Mº Hôtel de Ville, daily 9am to 10pm, tel:

The Crèche of Hope at Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame de Paris, place du parvis Notre-Dame, 4e,

Barfly 49, avenue George V, 8e, Mº George V, tel:
Barrio Latino 46-48, rue du faubourg St-Antoine, 11e, Mº Bastille, tel:
Buddha Bar 8, rue Boissy d’Anglas, 8e, Mº Concorde, tel: Man Ray 34, rue Marbeuf, 8e, Mº Franklin D. Roosevelt, tel:
Batofar facing 11, Quai François Mauriac, 13e, Mº Bibliothèque, tel:
Au Virage Lepic 61, rue Lepic, 18e, Mº Blanche, tel:
Le Bal du Roy Château de Versailles, 78000 Versailles, tel:,
The big ferris wheel 10:30am to 7:30pm, place de la Concorde, 8e, Mº Concorde, tel:
Ballon Fortis daily 9am to sunset, Parc André Citroën, 15e, Mº Javel-André Citroën, tel:, 66F/33F.
Aux Portes de l'An 2000 midnight to 2am, avenue des Champs-Elysées from avenue George V to the place de la Concorde, free and open to the public

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower with lights
© Julian Fowler

Champs-Elisées ferris wheel
© Alain Deswarte