“Vive la France” was on the lips of many a French National Soccer Team fan inside Pierre’s restaurant in Bridgehampton on Sunday, July 15, as the team played the field to glory, earning the 21st FIFA World Cup in the grueling month-long tournament’s final match, beating Croatia 4-2.
“We have an amazing team and they played very well,” said Magli Houdre, a French ex-pat now living in Southampton.
It is only the second time that the team has earned the golden cup. The last time the team won was exactly 20 years ago when France hosted the tournament in 1998.
Houdre was in Paris for that victory and could only imagine being back there now.
“Paris was on ‘fire’ for a week,” she said, referencing the week-long celebration after the team won.
Spectators jammed Pierre’s, watching the match on three TV screens, some over reserved tables, others huddling around the bar area to catch a glimpse of the match. They showed their national pride by wearing blue, white, and red, the colors of the French national flag, with some wearing the flag as a fashion statement. Others donned faux French straw hats with blue, white, and red ribbon tied around the base.
They sipped champagne and rosé while servers bustled about in Bastille Day period costumes — off the shoulder brocaded dresses and French military uniforms — all under the watchful eye of the eatery’s stately namesake, Pierre Weber.
Some contemplated doing shots of Champagne.
Lucie Thon, an ex-pat who now lives in New York, wore a red and white striped t-shirt with “Paris mon amour” written in script on the front, and was watching the game with her fiancé and two local friends. She said the game wasn’t the best in the world, though the team maintained “possession of the ball” for a good period of the game.
“They played very well,” she said.
Her favorite player?
Antoinne Griezmann, of course. “Because he is the hotter one,” she said, laughing.
Everyone seemed to have their cell phones out to take photos and video, and any time the crowd seemed to quiet down, a speaker overhead would play “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, rousing them once again.
Anne Bahous, a Paris native who spends the summer in the Hamptons, painted blue, white, and red flags on her cheeks in support of the team, then lent out her makeup to other spectators nearby.
She said wanted to find a local place to watch the game and ended up making a reservation at Pierre’s for herself and about 10 pals, most of whom were British. “They are very unhappy about England not making it, but they are supporting France.”
“I am so happy with that because it is so much better than staying at home,” said Bahous.
Camille Rose, a high school friend of Bahous and Paris native who just moved back to New York, said she wanted to be surrounded by French people for the game.
“It was really exciting to watch it together,” she said.
For them, the fourth goal was the best part of the game.
“The second half was great,” said Bahous.
Rose said the third and fourth goal were “well-deserved.”
“Proving ourself at the third and fourth goals [was] amazing,” she added.
The match proved to be a nail biter, with spectators on the edge of their seats, “oohing” and “ahhing” with every attempt to score a goal.
Just before the third goal, the French players were stopped by Croats just before the goal, but then Paul Pogba slipped the ball easily into the goal and the crowd erupted in cheers.
After Kylian Mbappe scored the fourth goal, the crowd erupted again, screaming and clapping, one spectator calling out, “What a great day to be French!”
There was nine minutes left in the match, and a spectator shouts, “Come on, one more.” But the timer ran out. France was the best soccer team in the world.
Many a hope was dashed this past week as ex-pats huddled by TV screens across the East End to root for their home soccer teams — some of the world’s best — as they were picked off in the last string of matches leading up to the final.
Belgium took third place in the third-place playoff on Saturday, beating England 2-0. Earlier in the week, Croatia earned its spot in the final, beating England 2-1 and dashing the team’s World Cup hopes.
That didn’t stop fan Rahul Amin, a British ex-pat who turned out Sunday to Pierre’s to support the sport of “football” as it is called in Europe, in the true spirit of the World Cup. Amin said he was happy with how his home team fared in the tournament and didn’t bemoan England’s loss to Croatia, instead he called them the better team.
The way the sport is progressing, he explained, fans can expect to see a better team for the next World Cup in four years and an “even better one in eight years time.”
“I came out to support football. I don’t mind who wins. I just want a good game,” he said, adding, “We got a good game.”
Despite the crowd at Pierre’s, Weber said there were no special preparations made for the day, no special menu planned.
“It’s good; I am happy for them. I am happy for my team too. They did a good job,” he said.
There was no special after party to celebrate France’s turn at glory either. The music was turned up, however, spilling out onto Main Street in an impromptu party.
“The party is still going on. Don’t you hear it?” he asked.