Paris says ‘au revoir’ to Irish fans, but not all that sadly

As fans head to Bordeaux, Parisians breathe a sigh of relief following ‘la folie Irlandaise’

For a few moments, this man had a glimpse of what it must be like to be the pope, delivering his Urbi et Orbi address. Photograph: Jeanne b/Youtube

For a few moments, this man had a glimpse of what it must be like to be the pope, delivering his Urbi et Orbi address. Photograph: Jeanne b/Youtube

 

As Irish fans head south to Bordeaux, some Parisians miss them more than others. The publicans of Pigalle, for example. They can at least console themselves with the profits they made over the last week.

Also, the man who lives on the second floor of No 118 Boulevard de Clichy.

In common with most locals, he cannot have slept very well in recent nights, living as he does over the Harp bar, one of several Irish establishments that drew thousands to the street every night. But on the plus side, he was briefly an internet celebrity, when a mere appearance on his own balcony was greeted with cheers.

For a few moments, the man had a glimpse of what it must be like to be the pope, delivering his Urbi et Orbi address. Except not even the pope gets booed when he leaves the balcony, as the man did, forcing him to make several reappearances by way of encore, all of them greeted like the actions of a hero.

Now, apart from the hit YouTube video, he has returned to a life of relative obscurity. The barman in the pub could not identify him by name when I asked on Wednesday. Nor was it possible to reach him via the doorbell of No 118.

Balls on balconies

Here was a clue that not all the locals have enjoyed hosting the crazy, fun-loving visitors as much as the visitors like to think. And sure enough, yesterday’s Le Parisien newspaper ran a short but party-pooping feature about how the neighbourhood had been “emporté par la folie Irlandaise” (“swept away by the Irish madness”).

This was accompanied by a picture of the conspicuously unswept Boulevard de Clichy, the morning after one of the orgies. But the deluge of bottles, cans and other litter was only one of a litany of complaints.

Closed to traffic

Another woman, aged 80 and returning from a trip, found her driver couldn’t enter the street, which was closed to traffic. So she had to get out some blocks away and weave a path through the “fêtards” (“revellers“) with her luggage.

An under-fire sanitation official, from the 10th arrondissement’s mairie, admitted they had not expected quite so many fêtards. He noted a quiet side street off the boulevard had suffered the consequences. Rather than face the queues for the pubs’ overwhelmed toilets, and with no other facilities to resort to, the beer drinkers had turned Rue Pierre-Haret into what he called “une pissotière géant” (no translation necessary).

But the comments were not all negative. The paper also quoted a Parisian (albeit one “of Irish origin”) who said the atmosphere in recent nights had been “incroyable”.

Even “Juliette”, who had posted a picture of the morning-after squalor on Facebook, also sounded a note of forgiveness, saying that she had “given a kiss” to some of the visitors in return for their promise to treat her area with consideration.

As for the question that headed her post: “Is it going to be like this until July 10th?”, she will be relieved to hear the worst has passed, for now anyway.

Ireland’s remaining group games are in Bordeaux and Lille, and any Round of 16 game is likely to be in the provinces too. The great mass of Irish fans are unlikely to be back in Paris until the quarter-finals, at least. In which event, the mairie of the 10th arrondissement had better invest in Portaloos.