The Minister of the Interior greeted around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, January 1, a New Year which was taking place generally “peacefully,” with “211 individuals arrested” throughout France.

“This night again alongside the police mobilized for our safety. Thank you to them for their commitment. Major festivities took place peacefully, particularly in Paris, where more than a million people gathered,” the minister wrote on the social network X.

Speaking earlier from the Paris police headquarters where he had gone to take stock of the situation, Mr. Darmanin had reported “small scuffles in Bordeaux and Nîmes”. “Things are going as calmly as possible (…) it’s calmer than last year but there are a lot more people,” he said. The Paris police prefect, Laurent Nuñez, alongside him, Gérald Darmanin affirmed that “the police do an extremely severe job”.

A few months before the Olympic Games, New Year’s Eve, on the Champs-Elysées in particular, was a test of the capacity to welcome several hundred thousand spectators without incident. From 7 p.m., tourists and Parisians gradually filled the two kilometers from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, to the sound of female DJs Marine Neuilly, Vanille and Barbara Butch. A fireworks display above the Arc de Triomphe at midnight was the high point of the celebration, placed under the sign of the Olympic Games with numerous activities evoking the sporting event. The police immediately began dispersing the avenue.

A very strict security system

“Tonight it was a bit difficult with security, they took a while but that’s normal. It’s to protect us so we take it well”: among the million people gathered on this emblematic avenue, Dheeresh Avasarala had to comply with the very strict security control put in place by the police, who cordoned off each artery surrounding the avenue, with bag checks and systematic palpations.

Not enough to call into question the enthusiasm of this 29-year-old Indian analyst, who came from Brussels with his wife and their daughter: “I have often heard that Paris was lit up like nowhere else for the New Year and I wanted to see that . It’s my first time, I just want to enjoy! », he smiles, without stopping filming for a moment.

“Honestly, I have stars in my eyes! It’s super beautiful, it’s great! It was a bit complicated in terms of waiting. We may have had to wait twice thirty minutes, a first check and a second for the bags but otherwise it’s okay. And at least we feel safe,” adds Justine Waterloos, 22, from Abbeville.

The pressure of the crowd, increasingly dense as midnight approached, forced the police to open screening points in at least one place. This security system was prepared “in a context of very high terrorist threat due to the conflict in Israel and Palestine”, the Minister of the Interior underlined this week.

The Urgence Palestine collective, which calls for a “ceasefire” and a “lifting of the blockade” in Gaza to put an end to the “genocide” of its population, had called for Palestinian flags to be displayed just before midnight on the Champs-Elysées . But “protest demonstrations will be prohibited” on the avenue, warned the police prefect Laurent Nuñez, guaranteeing “strict application of this ban”.

A few dozen people, however, displayed two giant flags and chanted “Free Palestine”, before being dispersed by the police who made a few arrests, noted a journalist from Agence France-Presse.