Two days ago, joy broke out on the streets of Paris when soccer fans and spectators, nay, the French, witnessed the win of French team Les Bleus on their screens everywhere in France.
Even if you were sitting at home, you could hear Paris breathe out its happiness translated into cheers, din and smells of exploding firecrackers, which reached the higher floors of buildings. We decided to follow the scent and this is where it led us...
The general display of joy did not abate for a while; these are some of the pictures of what took place spontaneously in the center of Paris.
When you are happy to that degree, you need company, the larger the better. So groups formed. Then, you need an altar, obviously, to worship at. So Fontaine St Michel was invested with revellers - and people bowed to the greatness of the game of football and the French team having overcome the daunting Belgians.
Could it be true? Were the Bleus headed for the Final? Yes it was. Yes they were.
Football is the sport behind which the French are ready to unite and reactivate if only for several precious moments - hours rather and days and weeks if need be - values of patriotism, but also optimism, the latter an import value for the most part. The French specialize in joie de vivre, not in default optimism. It needs self-cultivation and fertilizer in this nation. The Bleus had become a fertilizer.
If the French team wins the 2018 World Cup, Paris will turn into a giant pair of lungs screaming everything good and hopeful it can express - and 20 years later no one will have forgotten, just like today 1998 World Cup is one of the best collective memories the French share; the retelling will be done by starry-eyed story-tellers.
If the great and fearsome Bleus lose to the admirable and fearsome Croatians, you will probably only be able to hear a mournful silence pervade the streets of France, just like after the European Cup, which they lost. This is why there is an air of disquiet in people's eyes. They remember that too.
But the dream is there.
On the night of July 10th, the mood was about exhilaration and pride in the national French team. Merci !
I heard one of the most beautiful renditions of La Marseillaise. Fervor, it smelled of, with touches of joy, quiet dreaming, disquiet too and anxious what-ifs, patriotism of course - and a sense of the road yet to be covered to reach the goal.
Photos © Chant Wagner 2018