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Champagne Corks Pop In Paris For Obama

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

America's presidential election was followed closely all over the world. Many Europeans are hoping a new president means better relations with Washington, and they believe Barack Obama's election means a new start for America. In a moment, we'll go to Berlin where Obama is something of a superstar. But first, let's hear from Eleanor Beardsley in Paris where many people greeted the Obama victory with joy and relief.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: The crowd watching the election returns at a party across from the Eiffel Tower erupted in cheers when the race was called around 5:30 in the morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

BEARDSLEY: The champagne corks were popping, but Parisian Natalie Lafone(ph) said she could still hardly believe it.

MONTAGNE: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: What's happened is extraordinary, she says. Do you believe it, a black president in America? And 70 years ago, blacks didn't even have the right to sit down in a bus. I have goose bumps, says Lafone. Algerian French lawyer Ahmed Kalifi(ph) says being an Arab in France is probably a lot like being black in America. But he says the U.S. has now shown the world how to end discrimination.

MONTAGNE: I love America today. I've seen the first black president in America. I'm sure the world is going to change. I'm really happy for Americans. They have the courage to change our destiny.

BEARDSLEY: Daylight hasn't even broken and the streets are dark, but inside the brightly lit Cafe La Rotond(ph), a group of blue-collar workers watches Obama's acceptance speech live from Chicago. Serving up espressos, barmaid Emily Wusoux(ph) says she's very happy.

MONTAGNE: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: After eight years of Bush, it's a huge change, she says. You would have never thought it possible several years ago that someone like Barack Obama could win. I think this election concerns all of us because America is a superpower. There is a feeling among many in France that Obama's election will bring change to more than just the United States. Daily newspaper Liberacion put it aptly in today's headline. "We have a dream," it says. For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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