French Cafes Closed to New Year Crowds

Many French restaurants shutting downs because of potential violence

More than a million people are expected to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Champs-Elysees in Paris France. Those partygoers better pack a sack dinner in case they get hungry, because they will have a tough time finding food.

Restaurant owners want to usher in the New Year safely, and to do that they say they will have to be closed. With huge fireworks and light shows expected at the Eiffel Tower millions will crowd the area and that seems like a great opportunity for eatery owners. However, it’s just the opposite. Most fear violence will mar the festivities and the only way to keep out of the melee will be to close on the biggest night of the year.

Restaurant owner’s say all you have to do is look at history to see why they are shutting up shop this New Year’s Eve. After France’s 1998 World Cup victory over Brazil two cars plowed into the area along Champs-Elysees killing one person and injuring 150 others.

Fouquet’s, the 100-year-old brasserie catering to the stars, will close fearing a repeat of that violence. Fouquet’s was turned into a makeshift emergency room and customers were trapped inside the restaurant all night while police conducted their investigation. The restaurant was renovated this year in celebration of its anniversary and the owners don’t want to see it destroyed. In fact, Fouquet's is paying $123,000 for protective barriers to keep rowdy party makers away from the store.

Fouquet’s isn’t alone many other stores and restaurants are choosing to close up rather than take a chance. Ladure, Chez Gagnaire and Le Copenhague restaurant will all be closed this New Year’s Eve. The Champs-Elysee flagship stores, the FNAC music outlet, the Virgin Megastore, and the Prisunic department store will shut at dusk instead of staying open until midnight as they usually are.

The area between the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower will be closed to traffic and parking will be banned for two days ahead of the big celebration. The city’s entire regular police force will be on alert and backed by 40 units of black-clad riot police and other roving officers. The total number of police officers on duty that night will top 23,000.

The only restaurants staying open seem to be those who have already booked large parties for the ev