Paris’ landmarks were lit up in blue and adorned with EU flags on Saturday (January 1) in celebration for the start of France’s six-month presidency of the European Union.
Among the various sites cast in blue were the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the French Senate and the Louvre Museum.
Landmarks of importance have also been lit up in every major French city, including Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.
However, one of the displays drew criticism from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who on Saturday protested against the placing of a European Union flag on the Arc de Triomphe, calling it an attack on French identity.
Le Pen, whom polls show to be President Emmanuel Macron’s main rival for the spring presidential election, was joined by other right-wing politicians in outrage against the EU flag fluttering on the Paris landmark.
Macron, who has yet to say if he will run for re-election in April, defeated Le Pen in the 2017 run-off by 66%-34%. All polls show him favourite to win another five-year term.
Le Pen said she would appeal to the Council of State, which acts as legal adviser of the executive, to remove the EU flag.
France last held the presidency 13 years ago, under President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Macron has said France would use the occasion to push the Union to move on topics ranging from post-COVID economic recovery to migration policy, and European defence.