France 6 Wales 16: What a difference a win makes
"WE are going to enjoy this," smiled Rob Howley as he reflected on a victory that has been nine months in delivery.
He had every right to.
Just as Wales's interim coach has been forced to shoulder a barrage of criticism during an eight-match losing run, so he should be allowed to savour the bouquets that come with helping claim only a fourth Welsh win in Paris in 38 years.
Of course, Wales are still some way from rediscovering the swagger and verve of their 2011 World Cup and subsequent Grand Slam campaign and this match will long be consigned to the deep, dark archives of Six Nations stinkers.
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But this was not a performance of a side out of sync with its coaching team, as some have suggested.
To a man, the Welsh players spoke the same message of unity in the camp, they spoke of putting their bodies on the line for the jersey, battling for every metre.
It wasn't pretty, far from it, but this could yet be a watershed moment for both Howley and his players, in this championship and beyond.
"This is Test match rugby and it requires character," said the former scrum-half, who starred in dazzling win in Paris as a player back in 1999 and 2001.
"The players showed that character and deserve all the accolades."
They also showed a collective desire to tackle themselves to a standstill and smash into every ruck.
And at the vanguard of it all was stand-in skipper Ryan Jones.
In the many column inches that have been written about Lions selection in recent weeks, Jones's name has been conspicuous by its absence.
Not any more.
Jones made 10 carries, 12 tackles, took two line-outs, claimed one crucial turnover and sprinkled on top was a measured kick to the corner.
It would have been no surprise to have seen the former captain waiting to drive the team coach back to the hotel.
Instead, a couple of hours after the final whistle Jones was outside one of the stadium's beer tents chatting and having his picture taken with some of the few thousand Welsh fans who had travelled to the French capital.
The red beret brigade have diminished in number in recent times, but it was Welsh voices that could be heard amid the French jeers in the closing minutes as Jones and Co saw out a win that keeps alive their title aspirations.
As for France, with trips to London and Dublin to 'look forward' to, the ignominy of a first Six Nations wooden spoon is looming large over head coach Phillipe Saint-Andre.
No longer are Les Bleus the free-spirited side that have so often lit up this championship.
Prior to kick-off the big screens at the Stade de France showed the likes of Serge Blanco, Phillipe Sella and Thomas Castaignede turning on the va va voom.
But under Saint-Andre, Les Bleus have become pragmatic, stodgy and downright predictable and the Parisians, accustomed to a bit of style and panache in their lives, clearly don't approve.
On Saturday, the relentless whistling and booing that accompanied home players' exit from the arena, told enough about what the locals thought of this listless display, while Sunday morning's banner headline in the daily sports paper L'Equipe read "Du Coq A L'ane" (from cockerels to donkeys).
Afterwards, Saint-Andre paid credit to Wales's aggression at the breakdown, their gang-tackling of France's juggernaut ball-carriers. He was also at pains to emphasise that Wales took the one chance they carved out in a game of few try-scoring opportunities.
"When you lose you have to accept that Wales were the better team. But we should have been seven to 10 points ahead at half-time," he said.
"We are bottom of the Six Nations and have to accept this. We need to play with more precision and more spirit."
Wales too will know they cannot go through the rest of the tournament with a game based on dogged determination, although it's a decent platform for any contest.
Again, their attacking play lacked invention and fluency with errors littering a dour, arm wrestle of a match that failed to live up to its billing.
There were a couple of trademark bursts from Mike Phillips at scrum-half, a powerful surge from George North, the odd slippery counter from Leigh Halfpenny.
But this was a win where the piano shifters rather than the ivory twinklers took centre stage.
Gethin Jenkins, clearly stung by some personal criticism after the Ireland defeat, was more like his old self at the contact area; Ian Evans put in another tireless display in the boilerhouse, while Justin Tipuric will be pleased with his all-round game in opposition to former IRB player of the year Thierry Dusautoir.
There were issues at scrum time, with Adam Jones falling foul of referee George Clancy and the appalling Stade surface, while Wales's kicking game was often aimless.
But with two weeks of preparation before travelling to Rome, Wales will feel a whole lot better about themselves.
A brace of penalties from Halfpenny and Frederic Michalak had seen the scores tied up at 6-6 until eight minutes from time.
Then came a wonderful piece of vision from Dan Biggar, whose perfectly-weighted dink into the path of North allowed the Scarlet to gather the bouncing ball, drive through replacement Francois Trinh-Duc before showing some fine dexterity to avoid the touchline and dive in at the corner.
Halfpenny converted from wide out, then saw a long-range penalty creep over the bar to ease any late fears of a French comeback.
At the final whistle, Wales raised their arms aloft in celebration, while France were subjected to a ear-splitting torrent of jeers and whistles from the stands.
As well as two weeks of media scrutiny, Saint-Andre must somehow breathe life and belief into his side for a trip to Twickenham.
As for Wales, a chance for further redemption awaits in the Eternal City of Rome.
With Alun Wyn Jones back in action for the Ospreys, Sam Warburton likely to have overcome his shoulder problem and Dan Lydiate only a couple of weeks away, Howley suddenly has some big selection calls to make for the final three rounds.
He will go about his work at the Vale this week, content that the pressure has been lifted. He will also be delighted that he won't have to answer any more questions about that losing run.
What a difference a win makes.