Saturday 10 December 2016

'Let the festival continue' - French media react to Ireland's late late show

Wayne O’Connor and Ralph Riegel in France

Published 23/06/2016 | 11:58

THUNDER, lightning and rain greeted the people of northern France this morning as dawn broke but it is the Irish who are causing the biggest storm in Lille.

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After the biggest street party to ever grace the streets of the city broke out last night after Robbie Brady’s goal, the Irish have been on everybody’s lips.

The city’s Lille Flanders train station was closed off by supporters last night giving a rousing and impromptu rendition of the Fields of Athenry.

Buskers on the streets of Lille were also accompanied by supports singing Oasis classics Wonderwall and Don’t Look back in Anger until the small hours.

They are taking up all the headlines in the major French newspapers too.

The French sports daily L’Equipe has ran a wrap around cover in tribute to Ireland’s win under the headline: “Let the festival continue.”

L'Equipe page tribute to Ireland today
L'Equipe page tribute to Ireland today

Ireland will now meet France for the first time since Thierry Henry’s infamous handball in 2009.

However, the newspaper once again paid tribute to the Irish players and supporters who have really captured the imagination of the French public.

“The ghosts of the 2009 dam will resurface,” it said.

“If one of the two Irelands had not qualified , we would surely have sought permission to borrow their supporters. Let us love them a little longer, these love.

They will give the country days and nights of happiness for one more week during this European Championship.

“If joy and emotion were not always on the field at the beginning of the competition, friends of Will Grigg, from the north , like the Boys in Green, from the south, were the stars, elsewhere, during matches and outside working hours.”

Meanwhile, the French public have been overwhelming in professing their love for the Irish fans.

Twitter users took to the social media platform to express their delight that Martin O'Neill's men will remain in the country until Sunday at the very least.

Thoughts now turn to Lyon and the French on Sunday - and how exactly can fans make it there.

Are packages available?

Marathon Sports Travel (01 475-5010; marathonsportstravel.ie) has a daytrip to Lyon from €669 including taxes and transfers, but not match tickets.

Abbey Travel (01 804-7102; abbeytravel.ie), the FAI's official travel partner, will have a daytrip package available, with prices posting Thursday afternoon.

Stein Travel (01 517-5990; steintravel.ie) is announcing a day trip and an two-night package form Saturday to Monday shortly.

Club Travel (01 608-0030; clubtravel.ie) will announce a day package today. It is currently available to hold for a deposit of €50pp.

Killester Travel (01 833-6935; killestertravel.com) is also likely to have packages.

NB: Packages do not include match tickets.

What about flights?

Fans are going to have to get very creative for Sunday.

Direct flights with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Lyon and Montpelier have sold out in the days before the game. We'll let you know about extra flights ASAP.

In the meantime, here are alternative options for travel to Lyon:

Dublin to Geneva (Aer Lingus): Geneva is a two-hour drive or train ride from Lyon; flights from €418.99 one-way on Friday. Return flights cost similar prices.

Dublin to Paris (Ryanair, Aer Lingus, CityJet, Air France): Paris is just two hours from Lyon by TGV, with lots of direct flights from Ireland. All are expensive at the moment, with Ryanair from €256 on Sunday morning one of the weekend's cheapest options. CityJet has flights back from €200 on Monday.

Dublin to Basel (Ryanair): Flights on Saturday start from €319. Basel is a four-hour drive or train ride from Lyon, with train tickets from c. €82 on traincaptain.com.

Dublin to Nice (Ryanair & Aer Lingus): Over four hours by car or train from Lyon, prices on Saturday are coming in at around €323 each-way.

Dublin to Montpelier & Toulouse (Aer Lingus): These are sold out before the game. However, Aer Lingus has flights home from Lyon to Dublin from €458.99 on Monday and Tuesday, while its flights from Montpelier and Toulouse to Dublin cost €152.99 and €141.99 respectively.

Indirect flights: One or two-stop connections are available to Lyons through airports as diverse as Birmingham, Madrid, Frankfurt, Zurich and Barcelona. Marseilles via Madrid with Iberia is coming in at €260 on Saturday, for example. See skyscanner.ie for options.

Barcelona (6 hours) and Carcassone (4.5 hours) are other fly-drive/train options. Flights from Poitiers to Dublin on Monday are also available from around €62, as we publish.

NB: For Irish soccer fans already in France, the flight change fees start from around €40 online, but are subject to availability.

What about travelling by train?

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Eurostar (eurostar.com) operates direct and indirect trains from London to Lyon, with prices from £159.50/€207pp on Saturday, June 25, as we publish. Journey times are 4h 41m (direct) and 5hr 38m (indirect, with one change in Paris Gare Du Nord).

Trains are the best way to travel between major French cities, with a two-hour TGV trip from Paris to Lyon on Sunday morning (07.53am) priced from €54 on captaintrain.com. See Paris flights above.

The main rail website in France is voyages-sncf.com, but captaintrain.com is easier to use, and prices are exactly the same.

There's a great explainer on French rail travel on seat61.com here.

See You Boys In Green (ybig.ie) forums for more fans' tips.

What about travel by Ferry?

Stena Line (stenaline.ie) has Saturday sailings from Rosslare to Cherbourg from €369 one-way, while Irish Ferries (irishferries.com) has sailings from Rosslare and Dublin Port. Cherbourg is a 7.5 hour drive from Lyon, however.

Any accommodation tips?

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Hotel prices in Lyon are likely to skyrocket around the crunch fixture date.

Euro 2016 fans should look to campsites, Airbnb (airbnb.ie), Irish-run website homestay.com, friends and relatives to save on accommodation costs.

Going to press, Airbnb.ie had rooms from around €33pp, while hotel rooms were available from around €110 per night. These will rise fast, however.

Hotel search sites like booking.com, hotels.com, trivago.ie and hotelscombined.ie are a good way to compare prices across a range of properties.

Camping options include Indigo (camping-indigo.com) on the outskirts of Lyon from €22 per night, and about 40 minutes out, Camping Le Nid Du Parc (lenidduparc.com) from €18pp.

NB: All prices subject to availability/change.

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