Neil @ Euro 2016: Paris police have no bottle
Neil Humphreys' Postcards from Paris
The French policewoman was not impressed as she rummaged through my laptop bag.
"No bottle," she mumbled.
"It's a soft drink," I pointed out.
Fellow spectators tutted dramatically in the queue behind me, no doubt eager to get into the Euro 2016 Fan Zone in Paris and enjoy the privilege of standing in the drizzle and dropping the mortgage on a sponsored beer.
But I persisted. It was a point of principle. The bottle was still half full.
"It's just a bottle of cola," I said.
"Is cola considered a chemical threat? Or is it because it's not the official cola of Euro 2016?"
Clearly, the language barrier prevented her from succumbing to my sarcasm, which was handy. She had a gun.
So I gave up on the fan zone, which was no hardship as the overly sanitised event was essentially a tightly controlled, giant billboard for sponsors shoved in the middle of a militarised zone.
At a crossroads 50m from the fan zone, armed police with shaved heads and the kind of automatic weapon usually seen only in the best Swchasdas B-movies from the 1980s guarded each corner and stopped every vehicle.
Those drivers without the appropriate paperwork were forced to do u-turns, causing further havoc in snarling traffic.
TNP PHOTO: NEIL HUMPHREYS
France, and Paris in particular, cannot be blamed for their heightened paranoia after the terror attacks. Uncertainty persists, as does the social unease.
Syrian refugees can be found on most streets, huddled in shop doorways and clutching babies, begging for change.
The homeless sleep on Metro station platforms, with supporters stepping over crumpled sleeping bags on the way to Euro 2016 games.
Streets are often filthy, the after-effects of garbage collectors going on strike earlier this month.
Brazil at least pretended to clean up Rio and Sao Paulo during the World Cup, sweeping the poor and the protestors away from the heavily-policed fan zones and beaches.
Paris has barely tried and perhaps understandably so. Their priorities are elsewhere. It's a city struggling with political tension and terror fatigue. Honestly, Paris deserves credit for hosting the tournament it has.
So Uefa, and its corporate partners, has endeavoured to stimulate an atmosphere at the fan zones and it does work, for a few hours during matches, before the districts return to their perpetual state of lockdown.
As is always the case with major football tournaments, the real fun is improvised, the atmosphere created spontaneously.
An impromptu charity match between German and Spanish supporters was played out at the Jardins du Trocadéro, beneath the imposing Eiffel Tower.
TNP PHOTO: NEIL HUMPHREYS
Supporter groups enjoyed picnics in the gardens, rival fans indulged in daft singing contests.
Ironically, the true spirit of sport is often found away from Uefa-sanctioned events purporting to sell the true spirit of sport.
Beyond the fan zones, visitors mingle in an ad-hoc, messy fashion, but their entertainment isn't forced or contrived.
And they can bring along whatever bottles they like.