Tens of thousands flood Paris streets to celebrate France's World Cup win
People wrapped in flags, dressed in crazy hats set off smoke bombs in national colours
France fans did justice to the national team's 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday, pouring into Paris' Champs-Elysées by the tens of thousands to celebrate with cheers, stomping and song in an explosion of joy.
The win marked the second time in 20 years that France has won the World Cup, and came at a time when the people feel needy.
"It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a cockerel — the French national symbol — and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mpappé, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy.
"We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale and unites us."
People wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats, and one man spotted totally nude except for the tricolour, marched down the avenue where France displayed its military might a day earlier for Bastille Day.
Revellers set off smoke bombs in the national colours — blue, white and red — obscuring Napoleon's triumphal arch. People climbed atop every newspaper kiosk and bus stop to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and cherry bombs cracks.
A young man sprayed a fire extinguisher on the crowd on a hot afternoon.
Hundreds of police in riot gear were discreetly lined up on side streets to monitor revellers. About 4,000 police watched over the fan zone — packed to its 90,000 capacity — during the match, then moved to the Champs-Elysées and neighbouring streets.
"We're happy. It took 20 years ... It's the pride of the nation. It unites everyone. It federates," Frédérique Pourquet said as she and her friend left the Champs-Elysées.
Unity was a key word for revellers, and the celebrations were mirrored across the country.
The win "shows that the French people are consolidated and the work of all France," said Omar Bzi.
Hajar Maghnaoui, of Asnières, north of Paris, said "It's a way to bring the French people together, and also the world."