Tuesday 17 July 2018, 05:45

Champions return home to joyous celebrations

  • ​France return to home soil after winning nation's second World Cup title

  • Welcomed by a jubilant crowd and then by the French president

  • Country continues to celebrate their achievement

The images went right around the world: rain pouring down from the Moscow sky as France skipper Hugo Lloris and his team-mates lifted the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy, before a deluge of golden confetti mixed in with the raindrops at the Luzhniki Stadium. It was an unforgettable moment.

Another storm was breaking over France at the same time – a storm of wild joy as car horns blared and fans poured onto the streets to sing, shout and come together as one. A whole nation was awash with happiness. From Lille to Marseille, via Lyon and Bordeaux, they gathered in their millions to celebrate the country’s second world title. And the celebrations went on into Monday.

The newspaper headlines set the tone for the day: “Eternal joy” (L’équipe); “Again!” (Libération); “We love you!” (La dépêche du midi); “Thank you!” (La voix du Nord); and “Heads in the stars” (Le Parisien). France was on a high and the party went on and on, a party the like of which had not been seen in fully 20 years.

And as was the case in the 1998 celebrations, the fans gathered in huge numbers on the Champs-Elysees to hail the triumph of Les Bleus, or the “Deschamps-Elysees” as they were renamed for the occasion, in honour of Didier Deschamps – the 1998 captain and 2018 coach, the figurehead of this all-conquering France. Tens of thousands of fans sang the obligatory “We are the champions!”. The sun shone and so did the radiant Bleus.

After touching down at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 17.00, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Co received the adulation of the fans as they made a near two-hour journey to the country’s most famous avenue. The bus, the crowd and the sky were blue, and when they reached the appropriately named Arc de Triomphe, a fresh wave of elation broke over the Champs.

A long and joyous communion with the fans followed, and when it was over, the players headed to the Palais de l’Elysee for a more solemn celebration with French President Emmanuel Macron. Night was falling by this time and France’s second World Cup star was shining bright.