PARIS, July 11: Chants of ‘Vive la France’ filled the air and perfect strangers became friends as Paris came out on the streets to celebrate France’s 1-0 victory over neighbouring Belgium in the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Hundreds of thousands of French fans swarmed the Champs-Elysees to celebrate their team reaching the World Cup final.
Football frenzy was at its peak in the City of Love last night as joyous Parisians walked towards Arc de Triomphe, an iconic landmark honouring those who lost their lives for the country in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, to celebrate their team’s first entry into the finals since 2006.
If France win the final this year, it will be the end of a two-decade dry spell.
The disdainful “don’t-bother-me” look from Parisians that often leaves lost tourists intimidated and hesitant to ask for directions melted away last night, to be replaced by a sense of belonging and shared pride.
Parisians wanted everyone to party, many dancing around tourists and happily photobombing their selfies. Those inside their homes, glued to their TV screens to catch the minute-to-minute action of the semifinal in Russia, turned up in their balconies to wave at the celebratory crowd.
In this ocean of humans, children sat perched on their parents’ shoulders to get a better view of the celebrations, perhaps as scenic and memorable as the hospitality seats in the St Petersburg Stadium.
Some fans climbed street lamps, waving the French flag, as other merrymakers sang and danced their way through the night.
For once, those stuck in traffic did not seem to mind the madness, and proceeded to capture the celebratory mood on their smartphones.
“We are really happy to have won. It is after 20 years. It is time to celebrate,” a jubilant fan told PTI.
Beer and wine flowed as cafes and sports bars catered to football maniacs, some wearing the team’s football jersey and many painting French colours on their faces.
The Champs-Elysees, the main street leading up to the Arc, became a mass party venue with thousands of fans dancing and bursting firecrackers as Gendarmes were deployed on the sides to ensure safety and security. – PTI