• Like every year, the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées are installed from September.

    And this year,

    20 Minutes

     went up in the basket.

  • For three years, 400 of the 600 trees have been decorated with garlands in the shape of a balloon glass.

  • The Champs-Elysées Committee, organizer of the event, chose the French company Blachère Illumination to set up the decorations.

"Are they dismantling the Arc de Triomphe or what?" This Wednesday morning, onlookers walking up the Champs-Elysées, under the sun, amused themselves by the ballet of cranes that they see higher up on the avenue. While some of the construction machinery is busy dismantling the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, others are parked under the plane trees that line the cycle path. They seem more interested in a tree than in the monument on the Place de l'Etoile.

An employee, helmet on his head, looks at the dangling wires and comments: “This year, it's a form of balloon glass.

Higher up, two of his colleagues are installing garlands on the trees on the avenue.

Walkers pass by and are surprised by this spectacle: “It's a little earlier every year.

»Because yes, for the plane trees and other chestnut trees, Christmas has already started.

The famous Champs-Elysées Christmas lights are about to be installed.

400 trees to decorate

If the date may seem premature to ordinary people, it is justified by the magnitude of the task: “Everything must be ready by November 15, to have time to do tests. We take the margin, that avoids the unforeseeable ”, explains Edouard Lefebvre, general manager of the Champs-Elysées * Committee, the association which organizes the illuminations. To discover the backdrop of this installation,

20 Minutes

was invited to the site with those who set up this show awaited by Parisians.

"There are 400 trees to decorate, each one is different and we are working on living things, we must not damage it", explains Eric from the top of his basket.

One by one, he carefully goes up the garlands that his colleague hangs on a rope that Eric hands him.

“It is the basis of the installation,” he explains.

This colleague, nestled two meters above the ground on a small scaffolding, manages a veritable knot of garlands which embraces the trunk of the tree and acts as a button.

An artistic creation that takes a lot of time

Eric then takes care of hanging the garland on the hoop, a sort of crown that levitates on the canopy of the tree, installed the day before by another team. A gesture that is measured and artistic so that the garland hangs sufficiently and draws the roundness of the balloon. Master of his basket, he gradually turns around the glass, while a colleague performs the same operation on the other side of the circle, giving the illusion of a waltz of machines, which dance above the cyclists of a side, and passers-by on the other.

This is the third year that this decoration has been used, and it could stay another one or two years according to Edouard Lefebvre: “It is an artistic creation that requires preparation, discussions very well in advance. At least a year upstream, we are already thinking, getting information. You can't wonder what you're doing in April for September. "

The set-up, too, is not improvised.

Small cranes should be moved to each tree and the perimeter secured.

Once at a height of 6 or 8 meters, the operator must zigzag between the still bushy branches, the electric cable that follows the line of trees to supply the network and, if he has to go down, avoid blocking the passing cycle path. below.

“The machines are imposing, but the installation of this exceptional device must not in any way hamper passers-by or traffic,” explains Eric, showing a bicycle that spins under the basket at the same time.

The tailor-made work of a French company

A balancing act that he has been practicing for four years, and the choice, by the Champs-Elysées Committee, to select the company Blachère Illuminations to make and install the 80 km of garlands that will be inaugurated at the end of the month of november.

"These illuminations are created especially for us, and they are tastefully since sometimes declined for other shows afterwards", specifies Edouard Lefebvre.

The made-to-measure is found in the plan that the site foreman does not take his eyes off at the foot of the crane.

The 600 trees of the avenue are listed there and colors are assigned to them.

“Some are too young and cannot be decorated.

We have to let the crown develop, ”he explains.

Our dossier on the Champs-Elysées

In his gondola, Eric continues to carefully chain the lines of light and occasionally glances at the cars passing a few meters away and proudly lets go: "We are decorating a mythical avenue, it will be seen by millions of French people. , and broadcast worldwide.

"

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  • Lights

  • Xmas

  • Champs-Elysees

  • Paris

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