Sadly, the joy was short-lived. But for a few days here in France, we were on top of the world again. Et bon dieu did we enjoy it!
Despite the fact that Les Bleus lost the final match, it feels as though we’ve turned a page. ‘Passé un cap’, as we say in French. Summer vacation is upon us, the sun is shining, and today we are celebrating our Fête Nationale, aka Bastille Day. Spirits are higher in this country than they’ve been in a long time.
It hasn’t been an easy year in France. At times it has felt like the terrorists were winning. At others, the overriding disappointment in Hollande’s government and the back-biting from left to extreme right, has been depressing. The latest saga of resistance to change over the new Loi Travail (labour law) has been unending, along with the seasonal round of strikes and demonstrations. Then Brexit comes along and it feels like the end of the EU as we know it.
I surprised myself by actually watching the last two matches of the Euro 2016. This goes against my normal black-out policy towards all televised sports: golf, tennis, the Tour de France – not even the Olympics get my attention.
I don’t dislike sports. I just don’t like watching other people do them.
So although I know next to nothing about football (soccer for my North American friends), I found myself turning on the game ‘just to see’ and then getting drawn in. I watched the first half of the semi-final, and observed that while France was doing a very good job of preventing Germany from scoring, most of the game seemed to be taking place near the French goalposts. The Germans seemed to have good team work, and there was coordination and strategy in their moves.
Any time the French got the ball, things got a little chaotic. A burst of energy and astounding performance followed by – nada. They just didn’t seem to have a plan of attack. So I turned it off and went outside to enjoy the sunset. Then I heard a collective cry of ‘but!’ and the car horns honking – not just once but twice.
It seems that when the French get going, a certain magic kicks in.
During the final with Portugal on Sunday, that magic wasn’t quite there. Les Bleus gave it their best but the drama queens (who I found myself absurdly calling ‘Les Portu-gays’) on the other side got lucky in one single score. See why I don’t like sports? It brings out the worst kind of nationalism and name calling.
But although we may be down we are not out. The collective pysche is revved by the fact that we made to the final, the team did their best and now we get to enjoy some well-earned vacation time. Dans la joie et la bonne humeur!
One thing is certain: Le Coq Gaulois will be crowing again soon.
Happy Bastille Day!