14th July is Bastille Day and in France the Eiffel Tower in Paris is the centre of the Bastille Day Universe!
14th July celebrations in Paris include a military parade with French troops marching down the Champs Elysees and a spectacular aircraft flyover watched by the French President and huge crowds. But it’s really in the evening that the fun started as crowds gather in the Champs de Mars. In 2012 the theme – yes there is a theme every year – was “Disco”. Not content to light the sky with rockets and blare out funky music, the organisers also arranged for the biggest disco ball in the world to hang from the Eiffel Tower’s iconic iron frame.
For days beforehand, curious passers-by had seen a crane at the base of the Eiffel Tower and swinging from it a huge mirrored ball.
All became clear on the night – the artwork known as ‘La Maîtresse de la Tour Eiffel’ had been hoisted into place between the first and second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The largest disco ball the world has ever seen was created by Michel de Broin, a Canadian sculptor and conceptual artist. He had originally designed the 7.5m in diameter disco ball for the famous Paris Nuit Blanche Festival held in the Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris in 2009.
De Broin used 1000 mirrors to cover the ball and the huge atmospheric structure bounces light off like a magnificent magical star. He says of his creation “The spectacular view of the starry sky has long been a source of delight and curiosity, but the abundance of artificial light in urban areas produces a glow that covers the stars in the firmament…”
That night the Eiffel Tower was lit up and the mirrored ball shot shards of light across Paris as spotlights hit it. The whole place became a huge dance floor as the party-mood took over and merry-making Parisians and tourists grooved away to some classic disco music which was almost entirely American.
An hour before midnight the fabulous fireworks display exploded into the sky, multi-coloured streaks of light shooting into the universe. The crowds took out their cameras and phones and the flashes of thousands of photographs being created combined with the pyrotechnic show and the giant disco ball rotating and spinning off beads of light created a magical urban light show – a very modern son et lumière and Paris truly lived up to its name the City of Lights.