Like Super Bowl tickets, the tickets for the World Cup semifinal in Saint-Denis (as well as the tickets for the quarterfinal that my brother and I attended at Giants Stadium in 1994) are souvenir tickets, to add to that sense of it having been a really big deal. I absolutely loved them, and kept them both through the years. Even now, admittedly, I take them out every now and then to simply look at them, and appreciate the fact that my brother and I managed to go to such huge events, and in consecutive World Cups, to boot! The two nations that we are citizens of hosted the World Cup tournament back-to-back, which made me feel almost like an experienced aficionado after the semifinal with Croatia!
France wore their blue (home) jerseys for most of the matches that they played in this World Cup tournament. Makes sense, since this is considered their "home" jersey, and they were the hosts of the tournament that year.
It was 17 years ago on this day that my brother and I went to see the Three Tenors, when they gave a free concert at the Champs-de-Mars in Paris, right under the Eiffel Tower. They did this for the occasion of the Coupe du Monde/World Cup, which France hosted (and won) that year.
I had only been back in France for a few days, having arrived on the 7th. On the 8th, we went to the semifinal game between Croatia and France, and then walked home, absorbing the festive atmosphere among happy fans of l'Equipe de France on the streets of Paris. I do not remember anything particularly about the 9th.
But this was far and away the most memorable thing for us on the 10th. We knew about the concert, and knew that we would be going to see it.
We got there in plenty of time, and of course there was already a big crowd gathered. As it turns out, the loudness and lack of consideration of too many there assembled would prove to be almost as memorable as the concert itself.
There were vendors all over, trying to sell things. One guy was particularly memorable. He was selling chocolate cookies, and kept yelling "Gateaux chocolat!" over and over again, trying to make his sales. Somebody shushed him, a reminder that he was at a concert (a classical one, at that), and should be respectful. The vendor kind of teased the man, and whispered (rather loudly) this same refrain, looking at the man in a kind of mocking manner. A lot of people around laughed.
Indeed, however, the behavior of large crowds usually is not magnificent, and that certainly was the case for his concert. There were just so many people there, that it could hardly be avoided. This same rule is basically true for other huge public events that I have seen, with few, few exceptions.
Still, in any case, I was very pleased to have gone to the concert, and it was a pleasant experience overall. I have watched it since (on an old VHS copy), and thought that, since I have been writing blog entries about that memorable year and World Cup tournament in France, it would be suitable (even a must, really) to also honor this huge concert on the occasion of the 17th anniversary since it took place.
Below is a video of the concert in it's entirety: