Les Bleus soundly defeated Croatia 4-2 in the admittedly somewhat-sloppy-but-definitely-dramatic World Cup final yesterday. And then Paris went absolutely nuts. Flags were waved; baguettes were waved (don’t ask); beer and champagne were sprayed, sometimes accidentally and sometimes on purpose; and the whole city became a shouting, singing, car-horn-honking cacophony. The noise didn’t even begin to die down until close to midnight, almost five hours after the end of the game!
The first clue we had that the day might be a little crazy was when we woke up to see our neighbors’ decorations. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were just patriotic displays in honor of Fête Nationale, which we English-speakers refer to as Bastille Day and which occurs on July 14th. But no—these decorations only appeared the day after Fête Nationale, on the 15th of July, the day of the World Cup final. Our neighbors – and most of the rest of the city, it turns out – feel a lot more passionately about their football team than their nation’s history.
About 2.5 hours before the 5:00 game, Colin and I headed down to the river to find a spot to watch. We had decided not to join the hordes of tens of thousands of people watching at the Eiffel Tower and opted instead to join hundreds of people watching at outdoor bars along the Seine. None of these bars could truly be considered sports bars (that’s not really a thing in France), so most had to cart in TVs especially for the event. The bar we chose had a crowd long before the TV finally made its appearance. It seemed to be someone’s TV from home—I can imagine the bar owner asking around among his friends, “Hey, who’s got the biggest TV I can borrow? I’ll share the beer profits with you!”
And oh mon dieu, there should have been a lot of beer profits.
Four goals meant four opportunities to go absolutely crazy, belt out La Marseillaise, and wave the aforementioned flags and baguettes with wild abandon. After the final seconds ticked down and the win was official, the normally reserved French fans tossed their beer cups (some emptier than others…) and doused the crowd in Silly String. Yes, the French have Silly String, too. Bikers hopped on their bikes and rode away yelling, “La France a gagné!!” The bar emptied out almost immediately. Colin and I took advantage of that to treat ourselves to celebratory ice cream cones and sit in the suddenly-empty lounge chairs along the Seine. It was delightful.
Congrats, France! Allez les bleus!