A stick is lying on the ground, in front of the stadium, around the feet of tens of thousands of Blues supporters. Yes, we are indeed in France.

There was no doubt about it anyway. The 40,000 Tricolore fans (not him, the other one) had already started to converge on the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, a good two hours before the preparation match between Canada and France.

The tram was crowded with blue, white, red, “Mbappé” behind the jerseys, even if the French talisman, bothered by back and knee pain, was not going to start the match.

The floor in front of the stadium was also teeming with people. Lines stretched for tens of meters in front of the exterior corridors. Like our last days spent in magnificent Bordeaux, people consumed their beers and their dinners in picnic style, on the lawn or not.

Yes, “dinner.” Because this match was at 9:15 p.m. local time here. Why so late? No, it wasn’t just to accommodate the French who had the habit of eating late. There was the European vote on Sunday. A ballot which allows the election, in France alone, of 81 deputies of the European Union.

Elections which forced Emmanuel Macron to declare legislative elections in France. His speech even led to the match being broadcast on French television on delay, with a delay of around fifteen minutes.

The Matmut Atlantique was inaugurated in 2015, in anticipation of Euro 2016. Before Sunday, France had only played there once, and had only played seven matches in its history in this southern city. West.

It’s 7:40 p.m. We enter. The press box is on the fourth floor. We get out of the elevator and are completely dazzled by the sun. Almost as much as when we arrive in front of the splendid press gallery, the kind that is always ready to host major events. We settle in at our high post, not without a quick chat with the friendly usher, who tells us that he wants to visit Quebec this summer.

45 minutes before kick-off, players from both teams gradually enter the field for warm-ups. On the Canadian side, Maxime Crépeau, holder, enters first, and spends a few seconds alone on his side of the field, in front of an increasingly large French crowd.

This obviously reserves its biggest cheers for the Blues, who arrive a few minutes later. Including Mbappé, who is warming up quietly, with a smile on his lips like most of the time. We notice it thanks to our binoculars, which are very practical when we are installed so high above the ground.

Alongside him, all these great players that we see on TV every week, in their respective major championships. Eduardo Camavinga of Real Madrid. Antoine Griezmann, Atlético Madrid. Olivier Giroud, AC Milan. Marcus Thuram of Bayern Munich. Jules Koundé, of FC Barcelona.

The pre-match atmosphere is second to none. Different sections of the stadium are asked to make noise, one after the other. The supporters, who do not need to be asked, comply. The flags of France are flying everywhere.

Fireworks in the center of the flags of the two countries. And suddenly, the three sides of the stadium in front of us are filled with blue, white and red respectively. The east side tifo is revealed.

“We are not going there at 25, but at 68 million. » Speaking of the Euro, of course.

The Matmut Atlantique is already boiling. After the Canadian anthem, it’s time for La Marseillaise. If you remain frozen in the face of so much passion, it’s because you are a replicant from Blade Runner.

A short minute of silence is called to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers who landed in Normandy to liberate Europe 80 years ago. It is obviously not respected. “Shut up!” is heard from one end of the stadium, a response perfectly calibrated to what the 40,000 supporters present were feeling at that moment.

“Come on, Blues, come on, Blues! », we chant. Come on, above all, the match can begin.