Hundreds of thousands of French fans partied into the night on the Champs Elysees on Sunday to mark the country’s World Cup victory, celebrating football and the power of the game to bring a tense and often fearful nation together.
The country erupted in joy on Sunday after “les Bleus” clinched a 4-2 victory over Croatia in Moscow, with fans streaming into the streets, honking car horns and flying the tricolour flag.Cheers rang out throughout the country for each of goals in the final, which has transformed the young team into national icons 20 years after the country’s first World Cup triumph.
Even before the final whistle in Moscow, crowds packed the Champs Elysees in central Paris in a repeat of the scenes of 1998 when more than one million people partied there into the early hours.
“1998 was magical! Tonight my son has the chance to experience the same happiness,” Eric Rodenas, 42, told AFP with his son Raphael, who had travelled from France’s south coast to the capital.
As night fell, the dancing and singing continued, with the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the famed boulevard lit up in the blue, white and red of the French flag.
“MERCI” the president wrote in a one-word tweet after the match which saw him pictured celebrating wildly in the stands and visiting the players in the changing rooms.
Midfielder Steven N’Zonzi said Macron “had found the right words... He just told us it was huge for the country, for all the young people.”Amid the dancing and singing of the national anthem, some fans paused to savour a moment of unbridled joy and national unity after a difficult period for France.
“We’re a country that’s under too much pressure. Economic, social pressure, there’s too much of it,” Thomas Bazzi, a 31-year-old with the colours of the French flag painted on his cheeks, told AFP.
“We needed this release,” he said, smiling and holding a beer outside a pavement cafe in central Paris as cars streamed past with cheering fans hanging out the windows wrapped in the flag.