The Eiffel Tower was awash in the national colors and as night fell, it flashed two dates: 1998 and 2018 — the two years France won the World Cup.
On Paris’ Champs-Elysees, the home crowd was jubilant. Tens of thousands of fans jammed into the broad avenue to celebrate France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in Moscow.
“It represents enormous things,” said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a Gallic rooster — an unofficial national symbol — and a shirt with the number 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.”
As is often the case with such heightened exuberance, troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees. Rioters broke the window of a major store, threw bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight.
About 4,000 police who had been discreetly positioned on side streets responded with a water cannon and tear gas.
Earlier on Sunday, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats marched down the avenue, One man was even spotted totally naked except for the French tricolor flag.