Where were you when France won it’s second world cup? Don’t groan, yes Parisians ARE still talking about it on a daily basis. At least they have stopped honking horns. Here are just a few ways in which the French capital’s reaction to it’s national victory has been nothing short of astonishing:
Image courtesy of Liberation
1. That parade down the Champs Elysées – within hours of their Moscow victory, les bleus were preening themselves on the street that has appeared on more chocolate boxes than any other (not a real statistic), amongst approximately 100 000 fans. Les Champs was still a mess with rubbish since the semi-final, and the day after the parade the whole 8th arrondissement was uncharacteristically filthy. Parisian honour was elsewhere that day.
Topical packaging – from the ironic “win a trip to the winning country” to heartfelt thanks to the team
2. Paris works as hard as any other major city (in spite France’s famed 35-hour week), but on Monday there were zero emails in the inbox, a silent phone and a desolate metro. In France, when a public holiday falls on a weekend it is not pushed over to the Friday or Monday (as in the UK, for example). The world cup final shared a weekend with La Bastille, France’s July 4th, and by Monday Paris needed a holiday.
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt (Paris 8th) after a half-hearted clean up job
3. 12 000 police and 3 000 paramedics mobilised over 3 days. No buses and trams during the match throughout Paris and the surrounding suburbs to prevent people from climbing on top as they had done at the semi-final. In general, maximum precautions against both terrorism and bad behaviour. There were 300 police arrests from theft to violence. But thousands more were not stopped as the police turned a blind eye to noise pollution, irresponsible driving and general tom-foolery across the capital and beyond. But by now, unfortunately, France counts any major event without a terrorist attack as a success. So keeping the real priorities in mind, this world cup is considered well-managed.
Image courtesy of Le Parisien
Not even a union strike – rubbish lay for more than a day after the party in Paris’ 8th arrondissement
4. Giant screens at Hotel de Ville and the Eiffel Tower, but no other public locations under the Home Secretary Gérard Collomb’s anti-terrorist rule that areas must be fully secured and guarded. As a result, many of the obvious locations could not be used to diffuse the final – like the screen measuring 800m2 at La Seine Musicale, or even the Champs Elysées. Instead, people watched on their mobiles or flooded there after the match.
One of millions of bar scenes around the world, but this one was right in the heart of the celebrations
France may not experience the same thing for another twenty years and the victory was celebrated as a truly rare opportunity. It is remarkable how the power of football can drive such wide-spread happiness, where everyone is involved without exception, perhaps in a way that nothing else can.
Words & Images by Hayley
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