Off The Ball producer JP Gilbourne takes in the atmosphere in the French capital
Mon Dieu! 6 Euro for a coffee?! 12 Euro for a melon?!
French pricing for the Euros is as eye-opening as their liking for striking and almost as much fun. But sure it’ll all be worth it once the football starts, right?
The locals seemed nonplussed about the sporting jamboree in their midst prior to last night’s kick-off and the morning after the mood appears much the same. A lusty opening performance from the host nation that teetered on the edge of anti-climax until Dimitri Payet's 89th minute strike (the French are good at those) was the spark organisers were looking for and at least we're now out of the pre-tournament holding pattern.
But the eruption of joy at the Stade de France and the Eiffel Tower fan zone still seem like localised tremors in an otherwise becalmed Paris. Weary talk about re-jigged travel plans, over-flowing bins, over-flowing roads, an over-flowing Seine, sweaty buses, muggy trains and unsmiling gun-toting security personnel have defined the last few days. What you won’t see much of is any semblance of Euro 2016 mania outside of the fan zone and football hubs. In the hours after the match, tricolour-clad stragglers were a rare sight and the beeping car horns you could hear were still more of the impatient commuter variety rather than a victory chorus.
Maybe this is how a major player treats these early stages. Wait until you see the whites of the competition’s eyes and then jump on board. When you’ve a Coupe du Monde and a couple of Coupe d’Europe (when in Rome etc.,) in your locker it’s easy to dismiss the group stages as small beer. Small 8 Euro beers, that is.