If the wind were a little warmer, you could easily imagine yourself in one of those ghost towns in the western United States.
Concrete, tar, grates, and nothing around.
Not a living soul.
There, at the foot of the imposing building, this Stade de France erected to welcome the crowd, vibrate, sing, dance or even cry, silence swept away memories.
It is 6 p.m. this Saturday.
Night has not yet fallen but it is already very dark in Saint-Denis.
France-Wales, an international rugby match awaits its kick-off.
There will be no party.
The curfew, set for 9 p.m., signaled the end of recess.
Behind the sad shell, a ribbon of cars unrolls on the highway.
At their wheel, shapes in a hurry to get home.
A Saturday night on Earth ...
Aymeric, Guillaume, Paul, Jules were chosen to be ball collectors during France-Galles./LP/Olivier François
The only silhouettes that emerge in this icy landscape, emptied of human warmth, are those of the stewards and the guards who watch over the abandoned enclosure.
"We have been there since 6 o'clock this morning, we take turns," slips one of them.
And then, suddenly, the miracle.
They are one, two, three, four ... A whole group of young men come slowly.
With their faces masked, they wait in front of the presidential platform.
Aymeric, Guillaume, Paul, Jules and their friends are rugby players.
These are the cadets of the Garches-Vaucresson club, in Hauts-de-Seine.
They were chosen to be ball collectors.
"It's impressive because it's France that plays", slips Aymeric.
"It will be weird without anyone in the stands, continues Jules.
Maybe that will allow us to hear the players on the field.
The Blues in turn arrive in the arcana of the stadium.
Night fell this time when Camille Chat sneaks onto the lawn bathed in the light of the projectors and flooded by the decibels of music intended for who knows who.
The Tricolores warm up.
Fabien Galthié, their coach, in a t-shirt, holds the last details at his desk in the stands.
Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Federation, walks along the sideline.
And the music, always… For who knows who.
The seats are empty.
The show can begin.