France is on the world stage this year as it steps up to host the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship that sees la belle vie meet the beautiful game. So vive la France and relive the memories of the 1998 World Cup by heading over to support your team in one of these French towns.
Saint-Denis | Paris | Lens | Lyon | Lille | Saint-Étienne | Toulouse | Nice | Bordeaux
Stade de France[caption id="attachment_10344" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Stade de France | Photo by PSGMAG.NET (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
In the northern suburbs of Paris, Saint-Denis is a small town that hosts the biggest stadium in France, the Stade de France. Built for the 1998 world cup, the Stade de France seats over 80,000 people and is the fifth largest stadium in Europe. Saint-Denis is around a 40 minute trip from Paris by car but the stadium is also easily reached by metro or tram.
Our top pick, is the B&B Hotel Noisy le Grand offering great value in comfortable surroundings. Located close to the Gare du Nord from here, you have easy access to your hotel from the Eurostar, travel connections to the stadium and you’re also not too far from central Paris to see some of the attractions.
Parc de Princes[caption id="attachment_10504" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Paris skyline | Photo by Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
The stadium lies south west of the Eiffel Tower and is the club home of popular team Paris-St Germaine. The stadium was built in the 1970’s and at the time was lauded for its avant-garde architecture which won lots of prizes for its striking features such as the 50 concrete pillars supporting the roof.
To stay close to the stadium we suggest the Ibis Jouy en Josas Velizy, it’s a bit of a mouthful but the perfect opportunity to try out your Del Boy-esque French skills. The rooms are well equipped and the hotel provides free Wi-Fi, there’s also parking available on-site if you are driving. The hotel also provides a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day. “Oi garcon, dos croissants por favour…”
Stade Bollaert-Delelis[caption id="attachment_10360" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Lens, France | Guillaume Baviere (CC BY2.0)[/caption]
The grandad of stadiums, Stade Bollaert-Delelis has seen football matches played as far back as 1933 when the stadium was built. The stadium is constructed in the English style with four separate stands surrounding the pitch, an appropriate choice for the Wales vs England match – one of the most hotly anticipated matches of the tournament. Not far from Calais, this is a relatively easy stadium to reach especially if arriving via the Channel Tunnel.
The Hotel Campanile Bethune is both a comfortable and modern hotel and is perfectly located just over a mile from the station and within a 20 minute drive from the stadium. The rooms are all brightly decorated, provide free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV’s and the mark of any good hotel, tea and coffee making facilities – so don’t forget your tea bags!
Parc Olympic Lyonnaise[caption id="attachment_10393" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Lyon | Fred PO (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
Lyon is a young and vibrant town in the central-east of France and is the country’s third largest city after Paris and Marseille. Lyon is home to the Parc Olympic Lyonnaise, which was opened in January 2016 – just in time for the championship. The stadium seats around 60,000 people and is nicknamed the Grand Stade and the Stade des Lumières, although if England make it to the semi-finals perhaps we can rechristen it the ‘Lion Park.’
For pocket friendly accommodation near the Lion Park we recommend the Ibis Budget Lyon Confluence, which is about a mile from the city centre. The rooms are unfussy but offer free Wi-Fi and flat screen TV’s for any pre or post-match analysis. The nearest station is a round a mile away and if you’re taking a car you can also use the hotel parking for an additional fee.
Stade Pierre-Mauroy[caption id="attachment_10343" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Stade Pierre-Mauroy | Photo by Olivier Duquesne (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
Lille is a quaint town in north-eastern France, not far from the Belgium border and close to the Champagne region. Within easy reach of the Eurostar, the Stade Pierre-Mauroy opened in 2012 and has a seating capacity of 50,000. The stadium is multi-functional and is often used as a concert arena because of its retractable roof.
Just a ten minute walk from the metro station, you’ll find Nord Citotel Lille. The hotel’s rooms are spacious and offer free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel is excellent value and offers rooms for up to four people making it easy to accommodate larger groups. If you’re feeling inspired by all the football fever there’s also a gym on-site.
Stade Geoffroy-Guichard,[caption id="attachment_10405" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Saint-Etienne | Johann Dréo (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
Saint-Étienne is the capital city of the Loire region at the base of the Rhone Alps. The town features lots of wonderful architecture ranging from the neo-classical to the ultra-modern. Ultra-modern is not how we’d describe the stadium however, opened in 1931, it’s definitely a veteran in the football world and is sometimes affectionately referred to by locals as Le Chaudron –‘the cauldron’ owing to the green uniform worn by its local club.
A great option for fans in Saint-Etienne is the Citotel Furania. Typically French and full of charm the hotel offers all its guests a warm and welcoming stay in Saint-Étienne. The hotel is vibrantly decorated with homely touches and complimentary Wi-Fi. Located in the heart of town, it’s the perfect place to soak up the match atmosphere and do a little exploring.
Stadium Municipale[caption id="attachment_10411" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Toulouse|Photo by chantrybee (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
Toulouse is a fairly glamourous city in the south-west of France, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe. The stadium is the seventh largest in France and is a pure Football and Rugby ground, therefore there is no athletics track surrounding the pitch. Wales will be playing Russia here, let’s hope they’re not going Toulouse! (Forgive us…)
Close to the city and with cosy interiors, the Kyriad Toulouse Centre would be our choice when staying in Toulouse. The hotel is just a six minute walk from the nearest metro station and overlooks the Canal du Midi.
Enjoying the sun, sea and sand of the south of France, Marseilles is a cosmopolitan city with incredible architecture, great seafood and wonderful coastline. Marseilles is also set to be the European Capital of Sport for 2017. The Stade Vélodrome is the largest club football ground in France with a capacity of 67,344 spectators and regularly draws big crowds for its club games.
Just a few steps from the Velodrome Stadium, the Best Western Marseille Bonneveine Prado is a great mix of luxury and budget in-one. The hotel has a pool, tennis courts, terraces and garden, plus each room is air-conditioned with a flat screen TV and modern bathroom.
Allianz Riviera[caption id="attachment_10421" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Photo by Mike_fleming (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
In the south-east of France, straddling the beach and the mountains, Nice is a natural beauty with a Mediterranean climate and Cote d’Azur charm. Named after the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike, perhaps Northern Ireland will be blessed with good fortune when they play in Nice this summer. The Allianz Riviera stadium opened in 2013 and has a capacity of 35,624 spectators, which will be full to the brim as the Green and White Army cheer their boys home.
In keeping with the fashionable and stylish city, we’ve chosen the Nice Art hotel as the perfect place to stay. The B&B-style hotel is minimalistic with all-white-everything occasionally underscored with splashes of red. Not far from the city centre, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the city as well as the footie.
Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux
Bordeaux is often referred to as the Sleeping Beauty by French people owing to its old town with the most historically preserved buildings bar Paris. The beautifully restored buildings are now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Opened in May 2015, the Noveau stade de Bordeaux seats 43,000 people and is set to host five matches during the UEFA Euro 2016 including one quater-final.
If you are thinking of pushing the boat out and making this UEFA Euro’s one to remember then we suggest staying at the Seeko’o hotel in Bordeaux. The modern hotel includes plush white interiors, long-stay breakfast, a suite with panoramic city views and if you are trying to tie the football in with a romantic weekend then luxurious round beds are available too!
Which city will you be travelling to for the 2016 championships?