For many tourists, France is a land of grapes and cheese, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
When the U.S. soccer team arrived in Lyon on Friday, players came off a plane to find an airport filled with machine-gun toting soldiers, pistol-armed police and a bomb-sniffing dog.And when it arrived later in this tiny Beaujolais village, where the team will spend most of the next three weeks, there were gendarmerie patrolling the vineyards, plainclothes officers strolling among the roosters and geese, and dogs ready to attack upon command.
"I don't know, man, Dana Point is looking nice right now," said forward Eric Wynalda, thinking back to the Southern California beach resort where the Americans spent most of the 1994 tournament.
Satolas Airport looked like a militarized zone when the Americans arrived shortly before noon on a chartered plane after the Air France pilots' strike led to cancellation of their original flight.
Officials allowed French people to greet the team inside the terminal, but three dozen Americans who came to cheer their team were forced to wait outside behind barriers.
About two dozen French children in red warmup suits with the name of a World Cup sponsor were brought inside for the official greeting while the somewhat peeved American fans tried to catch the team's attention as players walked to the bus.
"How about the American kids?" yelled Bob Kennedy of Greenwich, Conn., head of the American Club of Lyon.
After seeing the U.S. fans, some players and coach Steve Sampson walked over to the barriers, handed out team pictures and spent about 10 minutes signing autographs.
Four soldiers with machine guns surveyed the crowd from the second floor of the terminal, and uniformed and plainclothes police surrounded the team below.
Four years ago, when the World Cup was in the United States for the first time, no weapons were visible when the U.S. team traveled, only private security guards. Still, the police presence was less than that for the 1990 tournament in Italy, where every player was shadowed by a Carabinieri paramiliatary officer with a 9 mm Beretta machine gun.
Players took all the security in stride.
"You don't notice unless you look at it," midfielder Chad Deering said.
Officials hung American flags late Wednesday and Thursday, making it look like Flag Day in Saint-Jean D'Ardieres, a village of 1,200 near the Soane River. When the U.S. players worked out Friday night at Stade Marcel Giroud, the newly sodded field of the local amateur team, they were greeted by "The Star-Spangled Banner," blared from a speaker on the balcony of an apartment complex next to the field.