People celebrate France’s victory in central Paris on July 10, 2018 after the final whistle of the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between France and Belgium. Photo: AFP
The French national anthem La Marseillaise, chants of “We’re in the final” and a cacophony of car horns and fire crackers rang out over Paris on Tuesday as residents in the capital celebrated France’s march to the World Cup final.
A crowd of 20,000 gathered to watch Dider Deschamps’ team beat Belgium 1-0 in their semi-final in Saint Petersburg on a giant screen at Paris’ historic Hotel de Ville, or town hall.
With viewing space at a premium every vantage spot was occupied — with fans perched on trees, on top of vans, on dustbins and bus shelters.
Samuel Umtiti’s decisive goal in the 52nd minute triggered the waving of a sea of tricolors, ecstatic fans many in the national team’s colours kissed and hugged and danced.
The Rue de Rivoli, normally choc-a-bloc with traffic, became a temporary pedestrian zone as crowds made their way along it past the Louvre to the Champs-Elysees, where 20 years earlier Paris had gathered to celebrate France’s World Cup win on home soil.