Portugal-France in the final of Euro 2016: it was a match nobody (or almost nobody) expected to see played out on Sunday at the Stade de France. And it was won by Portugal (1-0). Two countries that have enjoyed close relations for decades, and which have recently grown even stronger. We take a closer look at the Portuguese economy, which is rising from the ashes after coming close to the worst during the debt crisis.
1.5 million Portuguese in France
(some of whom hold dual nationality) Sunday's final had the flavour of a derby, as the Portuguese community has been established in France for generations. Nearly half live in the Paris region, notably in Essonne, Val-de-Marne and Seine-Saint-Denis. A very large community also lives in the Auvergne region.
French expatriates flock to Portugal
Over the past three years, more than 25,000 French nationals (most of them retired) have made Portugal their home, attracted by the country's relaxed lifestyle, real estate that's 20 to 30% less expensive than in France... and the golden bridges set up by the local authorities. Provided they live in the country for at least six months a year - and have not been a tax resident for the last 5 years - European citizens can be exempted from paying tax on their foreign income for 10 years. Certain professions working in the country (architects, designers, lawyers, senior executives, etc.) can, under the same rules, benefit from a tax rate of 20% on general income received in Portugal! Non-EU investors are also pampered: a "Golden Visa" gives them complete freedom of mobility within the Schengen zone, provided they commit to investing 500,000 euros in Portuguese real estate.
Tourism booms... especially in France
According to the Portuguese authorities, over one million French tourists (out of a total of 10 million) visited the country last year. And the enthusiasm continues: this summer, the French tour operators' union (Seto) expects a 40% boom in bookings (flight + accommodation) by the French compared to July-August last year. With 480 flights a week linking France to Portugal, many of them low-cost, the destination is within easy reach.
Lisbon, the new Barcelona
As the first city to benefit from the boom in expats and tourism, Portugal's capital is very popular. All the more so as it is also sporting a new face. Once in total disrepair, its historic center is currently undergoing a complete overhaul. A law that had frozen rents for decades - forcing landlords to abandon maintenance of their buildings - has just been lifted.
In agreement with the municipality, local developers such as Stone - in association with marketer Athena Advisers - are now working to rehabilitate entire sections of the city. This is also helping to drive up prices: expect to pay an average of 3,500 euros per m2 for old, unrenovated property, and between 4,500 and 7,500 euros for renovated property, depending on the district. Symbolizing this effervescence, the city is attracting more and more investors for seasonal rentals. Last year, 433,000 people rented via Airbnb in Lisbon, compared with 213,000 the previous year.
Pasteis de nata, a successful traditional dessert
It's the traditional Portuguese dessert. Invented in a patisserie in Belem (west of Lisbon) - where hundreds of tourists flock every day - the famous crème brûlée tartlet has been made to a secret recipe since the 19th century. But this hasn't stopped imitations from springing up all over the country. Around the world and in France, several brands - including the Nata Lisboa franchise in Paris - now sell the famous tart.
The champion of corks
Portugal accounts for almost half of the world's cork production, estimated at 201,000 tonnes a year by Apcor, the Portuguese association representing the sector. Portugal accounts for 34% of the world's cork oak forests, whose bark provides the raw material. 70% of production is destined for the wine industry, in particular for bottle stoppers. A total of 40 million cork stoppers are produced every day by the 650 Portuguese companies specializing in this field, which employ some 9,000 people.
Cristiano Ronaldo, an almost indestructible world star
137.8 million euros: the estimated transfer value of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid striker and captain of the Portuguese national team, by the International Center for Sports Studies. In total, the value of the Portuguese team is estimated at 449.9 million euros, putting them in 6th place at Euro 2016, while France is 2nd with 696.9 million (Antoine Griezmann being the most highly-rated player at 120.2 million). Cristiano Ronaldo is also the second-highest-paid footballer on the planet behind Lionel Messi (67.4 million euros gross per year, including sponsors, according to France Football), well ahead of the first of Les Bleus selected for the Euro (PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi at 11 million euros, according to L'Equipe).