Paris (AFP) – France erupted in joy on Sunday as the country clinched the World Cup, with fans streaming into the streets, honking car horns and flying the tricolore flag at the start of an enormous national celebration.
Cheers rang out throughout the country for each of four goals in the final as “Les Bleues” beat Croatia, transforming the young team into national icons 20 years after the country’s first World Cup triumph in 1998.
The most delirious scenes were in the fanzone near the Eiffel Tower where 90,000 people packed out a park in front of a giant screen, while other fans filled the Champs Elysees even before the final whistle rang out.
Hundreds of thousands partied on the capital’s most famous boulevard after France’s semi-final victory against Belgium last Tuesday with the crowds on Sunday expected to rival those of 1998 when more than one million gathered there.
The bells of Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris also rang out in the immediate aftermath of the game to mark the triumph.
Security will be in the back of fans’ minds after more than three years of deadly attacks that have claimed around 250 lives, with extremists often targeting crowds enjoying a night out.
France has deployed 110,000 police and security forces across the country over the weekend and security forces have blocked all traffic around the Champs Elysees area.
With success on the pitch, a country riven by tensions and still shaken by a string of terror attacks since 2015 has been able to revel in a newfound feeling of togetherness.