Video: The party has started as 100,000 French and Irish fans invade Lyon for crunch clash
Published 26/06/2016 | 12:29
THE party has kicked-off in France as an estimated 100,000 Irish and French fans sang and dance together before today's crunch Euro 2016 clash in Lyon.
While 60,000 fans will attend the Euro 16 last sixteen clash in Lyon's brand new Stade Olympique Lyonnaise, a further 40,000 fans will watch the match in the city's fan-zone and the pubs of Vieux Lyon.
From 10am, Irish and French fans sang arm-in-arm around around Place National while amused Lyon police looked on.
The good-natured rapport between Irish and French fans has provided the last sixteen clash with arguably the best atmosphere of the Euro 2016 tournament so far.
"It's amazing in Lyon city centre," Clodagh Finnegan from Navan, Co Meath said.
Irish fans who started singing were immediately joined by laughing French fans.
Fans of Les Bleus responded to Irish football chants of 'Stand Up for the Boys in Green' and 'Shane Long's On Fire' with their own songs including 'Thierry Henry' and 'Merci Irlande'.
Some French fans even began teaching their Irish rivals the 'LE Marseillaise'.
"There is wonderful feeling between the Irish and French fans," French supporter Celine Liaudat said as she linked arms with Irish students Aine Dowling from Carlow, Catherine Mackle from Monaghan and Alice Goode from Galway.
The Irish trio, all DCU students based in France, were joined by their friend Clodagh for the Lyon match.
"We don't have tickets but the craic in the fan zone will be great," Clodagh said.
Many Irish fans have described the atmosphere on Lyon as ranking alongside Paris as the best of Euro 2016 so far.
"The French have been brilliant. Some of them have even been singing 'Allez Les Verts' to us," John Smith from Clondalkin in Dublin said.
"If we do win, this whole city will go mental."