Well, we sure picked the right year to move to Paris- France is hosting the 2016 Eurocup (which happens every 4 years). We’ve been hopping around bars with friends for the first few matches (shout out to Laureen for teaching us the “Allez les Bleus” cheers and painting our faces!) It’s pretty exciting to be in the middle of all the energy around football (/soccer) here. After we won the opening game, fans were partying in the streets, cheering, and even dancing on top of taxi cabs.
For the France v. Ireland match yesterday, we made our way to the famous Fan Zone, where the entire Champ de Mars is reserved to live-broadcast matches. The main screen is 400 square meters, about the size of a basketball court… and the viewing area itself can hold up to 92,000 people. In other words, it’s HUGE! The arena is open until midnight with free entrance. Of course, they charge €6 for a tiny hot dog and take the water bottle caps off so you have to buy another later… tricky tricky.
We arrived 1.5 hours before the match started to beat the lines and secure a good spot and also good churos 😉 I made a little mound of wood chips to stand on for better viewing. Apparently Tyler has never heard the term “tanbark” before- is that a Californian thing?
After a few hours, it was getting pretty hot standing in the middle of the crowd. As soon as we stepped away, France scored two goals! Maybe it was a good thing we left the main area though because fans started tossing beer into the air. We found a cooler and calmer spot at another screen where we could sit down and relax.
I very much recommend giving the Fan Zone a try if you’re in Paris this month. France is still on heightened security after the attacks last November, so everyone gets patted down and checked three times before entering the stadium. There are also lots of guards stationed around the event space. As I’ve stated before, I’ve never felt unsafe in Paris, but it’s always important to research, be aware of your surroundings, and listen to your gut if something doesn’t feel right. I’m grateful we were able to celebrate one of France’s victories with 90,000 other fans. Allez les Bleus!