PARIS / MOSCOW (Reuters) – On Sunday, millions of French fans were overjoyed when France defeated the FIFA World Cup 4-2 in a thrilling final in Moscow and Lyon witnessed ecstatic scenes from Paris to Marseille to Lille.
In the capital, where 90,000 people followed the game on huge television screens next to the Eiffel Tower, there were choirs of the Marseillaise, honking concerts and hundreds of thousands of red, white and blue tricolor fluttering in the breeze.
The boom of fireworks and firecrackers filled the air, and the drivers kept honking to celebrate France's second world title in 1998 after triumphing on home soil.
A deafening choir: "We are the champions, we are the champions" rang from the Sacre Coeur in the north of the city to the Sorbonne on the left bank. Similar scenes were shot in Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and other major cities.
Even before the final whistle, crowds flocked to the Champs Elysees, the elegant tree-lined boulevard that leads to the Arc de Triomphe, the traditional gathering place for festivities, including the Bastille Day parade 24 hours ago.
The whole area around the Arc de Triomphe, the two-kilometer-long Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde at its end was a sea of singing and cheering people.
"It's just amazing what they did," said Josh, 41
"We are the champions of the world! It's phenomenal, just phenomenal."
More than 250,000 people were expected to descend on the Champs Elysees and Place de la Concorde, but the atmosphere was warm and sociable. Security forces kept aloof.
"It's awesome to get a second World Cup star after 20 years," said Tommy Hamon, 23, who worked at Le Deauville, a bar on the Champs Elysees.
Even football fans who did not look for France, but found themselves in the French capital for the game, were overwhelmed by the occasion and the celebrations.
"France was not my team, but I'm happy for it today," said Sarah, a 24-year-old from Birmingham, England, who studied medicine in Paris.
"All the time the players have been showing off something special, something I liked, and I was not sure if they would win today, but they did, many people will get drunk, if not already. "
In Moscow, where tens of thousands of fans traveled to see the game, there were tears of joy in the sea of red, white and blue. President Emmanuel Macron, who had traveled to Moscow with his wife Brigitte, embraced the players after the victory and stood with them in the pouring rain.
When the World Cup Trophy for the award ceremony took place, Macron kissed her briefly and beamed with joy.
"It was a great trip," said 33-year-old Sebastien Mefort, smiling widely at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. His face painted the colors of the French flag. "I've been here the whole month and have participated in all the games in France."
Other fans expressed relief.
"We were worried about the result, because Croatia are playing very aggressively football," said Sylvie Wahl, 55. "But our coach and the young players did it!"
Despite the torrential rain that hit Moscow right after the match ended, the fans ended up dancing and singing in the streets and fireworks could not be extinguished.
France coach Didier Deschamps was full of praise for his team despite nervousness at the start of the match and several missed opportunities.
"It's really beautiful, it's wonderful, we did not do a great game, but we showed a strong mental quality," said Deschamps.
"We also scored four goals, we deserve it, I'm very happy for this team, we've come from very far and it has not always been easy, but thanks to hard work, they are here for the next four years around the world. "