Paris, July 11: There was dance, music, spectacular fireworks and "Ole, ole, ole" at the the iconic Arc de Triomphe -- all to celebrate the entry of France in FIFA World Cup finals after 12 years.
France edged past Belgium 1-0 to book their place in the final of the FIFA World Cup in a rip-roaring semi-final clash in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. And soon after the match got over, people from all age groups thronged the streets of Paris dancing their way to the iconic monument to celebrate the moment together.
As the time for the match came close, one could see the cafes near the cobbled street of the city getting filled up with excitement, and soon after, one could hear the sighs and cheers with every goal as the team played on the field.
The match began at a breakneck pace with Belgium dominating possession initially as the French sought to catch up. France, which will play the World Cup final for the first time since 2006, will either take on England or Croatia in the summit clash on Sunday.
It was a moment for victory for one and all. People got together on the streets cheering with the country's flag, getting to the rooftops, dancing with one another, climbing the street lights, and bursting crackers. They were lighting up the sky with fireworks, and colour smoke bombs -- what was so different about it? They were in the hues of blue, white and red, the same as the colours in the country's flag.
Some expressed their excitement by jumping with a cycle, clapping and chanting "Ole, ole, ole". There were some who took out their cars and circled around the city cheering and some getting on bikes with the country's flag to express their happiness about the win.
What does "Ole, ole, ole" mean?
"It is our way of saying 'yay'," said one football fan, who added: "We all are happy with our country getting into the world cup final after so many years."
The stores at the Avenue des Champs Elysees were empty, and cafes were brimming with an infectious excitement. The celebration of the victory moment made tourists become a part of the city as people invited them to join the big party without any hesitation.
In terms of security, police officers were employed at every nook and corner of the area. And though they were on duty, they were all smiling and living the moment of the revelry.
An officer told IANS that he was not in a position to comment on the security arrangements, but he smiled heart-warmingly when asked about the victory. He said it was a big moment for them, and another officer said they knew it was going to be a long night, but one truly worth it.
It was a time when the city made people, who are visiting the city for work or leisure, feel good about being able to soak in the spirit of merrymaking. Even if it meant circling the same area for four hours trying to find a way back to the hotel, and getting lost amid the festivities. But sometimes getting lost is the real way of finding the heart of the city -- and that's what happened.