The festive holiday season has officially opened in Paris. On Thursday, November 20, Mayor Anne Hidalgo and French actor Omar Sy switched on the lights to the popular Champs-Elysées illuminations. Replacing the “rings” of light that adorned the avenue’s 200 trees last year, the new installation was designed as LED “garlands” lighting up the world-famous street.

The illuminations were created by the  French firm Blachère Illuminations to be environmentally friendly, so that the energy required to light up the street has fallen by 97% since 2006. (From 480,000kWh to 10,990kWh.) What’s more, this year’s illuminations are also powered by Soitec, a company specialized in solar energy production, thereby also decreasing the carbon footprint.

The lights are on from 5 pm until 2 am every day until January 7, 2015. Visitors can also enjoy the festive Christmas market that’s set up along the Champs-Elysées. Grab a cup of chocolat chaud or hot mulled wine and browse the stands (there’s even ice skating).

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