Monday, July 11, 2016

Les Miserablues

Les Miserablues, Euro 2016.
I wasn't intending to come to the Final, but since I returned home two weeks ago I had kept an eye on the UEFA ticketing website and had been able to get tickets for every game played in the knockout stage whilst I was back at work.

I mentioned this at work, and explained that if I got a ticket I would be late for work on Monday.

I checked all the details and figured I could stay at the same place in Paris and catch the first Eurostar at 6.30am on the Monday morning.

So on Friday 8th I saw that match tickets would be available from 1pm. I arranged to have my lunch at two ish as I know from experience that the first hour will just be waiting to get onto the website. Sure enough I managed to secure a ticket, a last check with colleagues at work who kindly agreed to cover for me and I secured the ticket.

The House of European Photography, Paris.


Returning home that evening I set about sorting out my journey.

Slight problem.

The first Eurostar available on their website would arrive in London at 2pm, meaning I would not be able to get back to Nottingham for work before my colleagues finished.

Portugal win Euro 2016.


I looked at other options. Available flights were in the evening and the overnight bus back to London left Paris at 10.15pm. Too early.

I remembered Ivan telling me about Captain Train, a French website that he used to book European trains. They had an option. I could get the TGV to Lille from Paris at 7.40am, and then join the Eurostar, arriving London 10.29am which should mean I get back to work for 1pm so my colleagues can have some lunch.

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.


Not surprisingly this option was more expensive than I hoped, so to offset the cost I looked at cheap ways to get to Paris, the best I could find was Ouigo, the SNCF low cost bus at €29 and nine hours.

I had already checked what's on in Paris and found I had already been to the top five so I decided I was in no rush and so completed a sequence of visits to Paris, by Plane, Train and boat (as the bus uses a ferry between Dover and Calais).

Portugal win Euro 2016.


After testing the three different routes the winner for me is definitely the Eurostar.

It goes from the heart of the city, and delivers you to the heart of Paris. You can arrive 45 minutes before departure, no lengthy queues to get on ferries (as Welsh fans will testify).

My first task Sunday morning was to collect my final ticket, and so I headed to Parc des Princes for the fourth time this tournament where my ticket was waiting.

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.


It felt strange on Sunday morning, travelling towards the ground without the football crowds, it was on my last journey here that I learnt the words to most of the Welsh songs... "5 at the back, With Bale in attack", couldn't quite manage the Welsh national anthem though.

During the afternoon I visited The House of European Photography, where they just happened to have an exhibition with French photographers covering the work of Oscar Niemeyer (remember him?). It reminded me I have unfinished business and intend to be back in Brazil in 2019. After that I visited Victor Hugo's house, of course I left it wondering who were going to be Les Miserables this evening.

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.


I arranged to meet a few friends for a pre-match meal. The majority of whom had been here for the whole tournament. They agreed that it had been great travelling round France, but that the football was nothing special.

The match itself saw Ronaldo, manage the Portugese team to victory. After he was forced off on 20 minutes. I saw him reappear at the end of 90 minutes, then gather the team for a huddle for the start of the second period, before wandering up and down the touchline barging his manager out of the way as he gave his commands.

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.


Later it emerged that there had been tear gas used at the fan zone by the Eiffel Tower as police struggled with the crowd, also a proposed victory parade on Monday, had been cancelled before the match.

Would winning have caused more problems for France?

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.


It was a shame that France didn't win to try to heal the scars from 2015, and show how far the team had come since their debacle in South Africa 2010, but the Portuguese Resistance had been evident throughout the tournament and in the reign of their current manager who is undefeated in 14 games. I guess it sums up the state of the modern game where winning is more important than entertainment.

Portugal win Euro 2016, Paris, France.

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