Today I got back from a beautiful week in France. My friends (the BEST) had invited me to come along for a fun-filled, action-packed Euro Cup week. Between the four of us, we had tickets for a Quarter Final in Paris (France vs Iceland), a Semi Final in Lyon (Portugal vs Wales) and the most important Semi Final in Marseille (Germany vs France).
We had decided to make it a little road trip (by TGV) and met up Saturday morning a week ago in Paris.
I arrived feeling more than ready for this holiday – My flight from Shanghai was a disaster, as arriving two hours before departure doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. In China, on Chinese Airlines, as a foreigner, you cannot check in online ahead of time and by the time I arrived, I got the the middle seat in the last row of the plane.
Upon arrival in Paris, I made up with the dire circumstances by indulging in a salad (the things you come to appreciate after years in China) and a Cappuccino. After that we were ready to shop and with 60% off for summer sale, we found quite a few good deals worth splurging on.
That first night Germany played Italy, and even though we watched it in the restaurant over an entrecôte and a glass of red vine, it couldn’t have been more nerve wrecking. Thankfully, Germany won and we started our Sunday with more sightseeing, vine drinking and shopping before heading towards Stade de France that night to see France beat Iceland.
The Iceland Fans were fantastic and looking at them only having around 300.000 inhabitants, I reckon more than half the population of Iceland had travelled to France.
Day 3 was the day for warmer weather. We took the TGV down south to Lyon for the game Portugal against Wales. We stayed with family and the pool, food, ice cream and sun couldn’t have been nicer. I hadn’t been to Lyon since I was a child and it’s really worth the trip. The old city, the two rivers, the food – all excellent.
From Lyon, on to Marseille to see France beat Germany. A very tragic evening (for the two Germans in our group) and a happy one for our French friend. While Marseille certainly has come around as a city and really suprised all of us in the best possible way, we set off the very next day towards Cassis for beach and relaxation. Two days of shopping on the local market, laying on the beach, swimming in the turquoise ocean and hiking to the calanques were the best medicine to unwind and prepare for the final in Paris.
Via Lyon we made our way back to one last night in Paris and sans tickets, we were this time confined to an Irish pub with mostly French people. Jersey at hand and nerves stretched to the max we could only watch Portugal resisting and in the end beating France. While we were rooting for France, it was amazing to see Ronaldo so moved (and of course without his shirt on).
Before heading home we detoured via Arc de Triumph and made an effort to get onto Champs Elysée. Before even setting foot on it we were stopped by the police who told us it was too dangerous. The news yesterday morning then proved him right with escalations at the Eiffel Tower Fanzone – a shame.
And now I landed back in Shanghai this morning, tired, happy, with a healthy sun glow and a desire to get tickets for Russia 2018.. World Cup anyone? I expect Germany to come back strong.
See all photos in this album here.