euro 2016 france.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JEREMY LEMPIN

When the France-Romania match ended, the Eiffel Tower was lit up with the colours of the French flag. But the celebration on the iconic landmark couldn't equal the reverie of the fans below.

"I am relieved; it was a stressful match," said Alexandre Robert, 26, decked out in a France jersey with the tricolour painted on his cheek. In the background, groups of celebrators danced, singing and embracing.

"Payet delivered an incredible goal, so we are confident for what's to come. France is going to win," Robert said, grinning. "And I'm coming back here for the rest of the matches."

The Paris fan zone, one of the public spaces transformed into public football viewing areas across the 10 host sites for the matches, started to fill up early, hours before the tournament kick-off.

Groups of friends, and father-son duos, kicked footballs to each other on the green park area under the three mega-screens, while a tent full of foosball tables reverberated with the clacks of figurines kicking miniature balls.

Truta Radu, 23, a Romania supporter who lives in southern Paris, said he came to the fan zone to celebrate alongside other football fans. Watching at home "is not the same," he said. "When they are so many people around you, people who are excited ... it's not the same."

Radu was with 17 other Romania supporters, dressed in their teams' kits. They made a block of colour on the lawn, like other groups of supporters for teams that weren't even playing.

"It is really great, because I have the impression that there aren't [many] French - there are a lot of people who travelled to get here and who are in the spirit of the Euro," said Goichon Armond, 22, in Paris for the week from the southern French region of Provence.

Robert Millar, 37, from Northern Ireland, was one of the many visitors. Alongside a group of friends, he was traversing France for the matches - and seeing three of them live.

"This is our first night of 14 nights, and it was an absolutely brilliant start - brilliant!" Millar said, before breaking out into chants of "Allez les bleus" - the chant of France.

Despite ongoing labour strikes that have disrupted rail traffic, backed up garbage collection in some Paris neighborhoods and will ripple over into some Air France flight cancellations over the weekend, Millar said he and his friends hadn't faced any inconveniences.

They were also unworried about security. France has enlisted approximately 90,000 security personnel, including some 13,000 private agents, to secure the games. Multiple perimetres of security checks surrounded the fan zone, and police, gendarmes and security agents patrolled the grounds - only occasionally looking up to check on the progress of Les Bleus.

France's victories, when they came, were greeted with lung-bursting renditions of the Marseillaise - the country's national anthem. And not just the French were celebrating.

"It was cool, it was honestly cool," said 26-year-old Richard de Foor, visiting from Belgium. "There are loads of people, there was a really great mood, and with the screens in front of the Eiffel Tower - there's nothing better."

Related stories

Fans pour into Paris fan zone to ring in the Euro 2016

Latest news

Messi's last minute penalty saves Barcelona from shock draw

Barcelona beat Leganes 2-1 with a last minute penalty from Lionel Messi in the Spanish first division on Sunday.

At least 30 injured after explosion in Bogota

A explosion in the Macarena area of Bogota injured at least 30 people on Sunday, many of them police officers who were guarding a bull running through the streets of the Colombian capital.

Vojvodina institutions hold conference on Bunjevci's non-Croat ethnic background

There are around 16,000 members of the Bunjevci community in Vojvodina who deny their Croat ethnic background. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council which enjoys the support of state authorities, and, since the change of government in Vojvodina, of the provincial authorities as well.

SpaceX rocket blasts off from historic launch pad en route to ISS

A commercial rocket built by SpaceX is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of research equipment, cargo and supplies, NASA said Sunday.

Defence deals worth 1.2 billion dollars announced at key UAE show

Deals worth nearly 4.4 billion dirhams (1.2 billion dollars) were reached at a major defence show that opened Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an official said.

Thousands protest in Malta against controversial press law reforms

Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Malta on Sunday, answering a call by the main opposition party to protest against what it described as a threat to democracy and freedom of expression.

London's mayor calls for Trump's state visit to be cancelled

US President Donald Trump should be denied a state visit to Britain due to his "cruel and shameful" immigration policies, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Sunday.

'Now more than ever': US scientists gird for confrontation with Trump

Normally any annual gathering of American scientists is relatively non-political. But, with Donald Trump in the White House, things are different at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Many researchers are worried about their future and are urging colleagues to protest - and remain vigilant.

Int'l conference on post-war monuments in post-communist Europe held in Zagreb

The event was organised by the Zagreb-based association SF:ius in cooperation with the Croatian chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

Serbians wouldn't go to war for Kosovo - poll

A majority of citizens in Serbia wouldn't go to war to claim back Kosovo, shows a survey conducted by the Serbian nongovernmental organisation "Belgrade Centre for Security Policy".

Grabar-Kitarovic, Lavrov find solution to air pollution caused by Bosanski Brod oil refinery

Croatia and Russia have found a solution for the problem of air pollution caused by a Russian-owned oil refinery in Bosanski Brod, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been poisoning residents of Slavonski Brod, a town across the Sava River in Croatia, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in Munich on Sunday.

Istria border police discover 20 migrants in van

During routine border control, police in the northern Croatian Adriatic region of Istria on Saturday discovered 20 migrants in a van driven by a Croatian national, the Ministry of the Interior said.