French celebrate unifying victory
It was a victory for all of France and the home crowd did it justice, pouring into Paris' Avenue des Champs-ElysEes by the tens of thousands to celebrate in an explosion of joy.
France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the World Cup Final in Moscow on Sunday marked the second time in 20 years that France has won the World Cup, and it came at a time when the people feel needy.
"It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster the French national symbol and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mbappe, 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 ... Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good."
Troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees, breaking the window of a major store, throwing bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at riot police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. BFM-TV reported that the store was pillaged.
Earlier, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats, and one man spotted totally nude except for the Tricolor, 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 in the area to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and cherry bombs cracks.
Hundreds of police in riot gear were discretely lined up on side streets to monitor revellers.
TEAR GAS FIRED
Typically, celebrations in France end up with some broken shop windows and other destruction, and Sunday was no exception. Tear gas was lobbed at one point on the Champs-ElysEes. About 4,000 police watched over the fan zone packed to its 90,000 capacity during the match, then moved to the ElysEes and neighbouring streets.
As night fell, The Eiffel Tower flashed 1998-2018 to mark France's two World Cup titles.
The Arc de Triomph was awash in the national colours, lit with the rooster, the faces of the winning team and the words 'Proud to be Blue,' or French.
The celebrations were spread across the nation.
For all the crazy antics and some revellers who got out of control a sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral.
Antoine Griezmann, the France striker who scored one of the goal's Sunday, told a news conference two days before the final, televised on BFM TV, that pride in country is in short supply.