#Take12Trips

The Host Cities of the European Championships

The Take 12 Trips Challenge is a travel initiative encouraging wannabe globetrotters to take a trip away each month. While the Take 12 Trips creators claim you don’t necessarily have to even leave your hometown, we’re focussing on European getaways on our blog.

With that in mind, where better to take a trip this summer than France? The most popular tourist destination in the world and also the host of football’s European Championships. There’s sure to be a carnival atmosphere all around the country, so if you’ve ever thought about taking a trip to France, this summer is the perfect time.

There are 10 French cities which will host games, and also provide fan zones for ticketless fans, so let’s get to know them, shall we?

Paris

One of the most famous cities in the world, Paris has been a top destination for tourists for generations and it’s easy to see why. Not only does the city have an artistic and cultural heritage which is almost unrivalled, with museums such as the Louvre and the Centre Georges Pompidou, but also legendary historical monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or Montmartre. The French capital still is still a leader in the worlds of art, culture and fashion, so it’s no surprise that lovers of these disciplines flock to the city each year.

Paris will be hosting games in the Parc des Princes, as well as a huge fan zone nearby in Champs des Mars, which will include concerts and events as well as displaying clashes between teams for fans who didn’t manage to get tickets for the game.

Saint-Denis

Approximately 10 miles north of Paris, Saint-Denis is a French city which took its name from a Christian martyr who was buried there after being executed on Montmarte. Wander the pedestrianised centre, with hundreds of shops, bars and restaurants, and stop off at the Wilson Gardens with lawns, benches and play areas.

Saint-Denis’s Stade de France is the largest stadium in France, and the 5th largest in Europe, with a capacity of over 80,000. There will also be a fanzone in the Park of the Legion of Honour, outside the famous boarding school Maison d’Éducation de la Légion d’Honneur. Please note that this 10,000 capacity fan zone will be closed from 15-22 June for exams, which means Paris will be the nearest fan zone, just a 30 minute metro ride away.

Bordeaux

Famous for its wonderful wine and amazing architecture, Bordeaux is one of France’s most popular tourist destinations in its own right. The city has more listed buildings than any French city outside of Paris, so there’s a great deal of history here, but it is also a modern and lively city with plenty to do. There are vineyards nearby, and the old town includes a huge number of restaurants and bars where you can pick up beautiful French wine at fantastic prices. Hop on a pibal (a cross between a bicycle and scooter) and explore the old town for a great way to get around.

Bordeaux will host games at the local stadium, Stade Chaban-Delmas, which is located centrally. The fan zone is also central, taking over the Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the largest city squares in Europe.

Image:  Jon Olav Eikenes (flickr.com/photos/jonolave

Lens

One of the northernmost cities to host matches this summer, Lens is located in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, just a short distance the Calais port. Lens was originally a small coalmining city, but since the closure of the last colliery in the 90s, has taken on a new identity as a centre for arts and culture, including opening its own version of Paris’s famous Louvre museum, the Louvre-Lens.

The Lens stadium, Stade Bollaert-Delelis, is home to the fervent-but-friendly atmosphere created by the local fans. The Lens fans are known as being among the best in the country, so the matches here are sure to be electric. The fan zone is located in the town hall square, with capacity for 10,000 football fans.

Image: Guillaume Baviere (flickr.com/photos/84554176@N00)

Lille

A French city with a Flemish accent, Lille is close to the Belgian border but is northern France’s biggest city. Lille’s city centre is famous for its bars and bistros, known locally as estaminets, and its many art museums, which have seen it win European Capital of Culture in the past.  As well as art museums, Lille also the original home of Charles De Gaulle, as well as military museums for history buffs. The city centre is also a fantastic shopping venue.

Lille will host games at its modern stadium, Stade Pierre Mauroy, which opened in 2012 and features a retractable roof should the weather not hold out throughout the summer! There will also be a fan zone in Place François Mitterrand, with a capacity of 30,000.

Image: Craig Morey (flickr.com/photos/pixelthing)

Lyon

Lyon is France’s 3rd biggest city and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its wonderful old buildings with their colourful facades. The city is built upon two rivers, with the narrow strip of land between the two being one of the most popular shopping streets in Lyon, Presqu’île. Alternatively, head to Vieux-Lyon for a look at the wonderful old town, and Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière to see the remains of the capital of the Gauls, as well as a stunning panorama across the entire city. Lyon is also home to one of the largest urban parks in Europe, Parc de la Tête d’Or, known as the “lungs of Lyon”.

Lyon will host games at its stadium, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, home of the eponymous football team. There will also be a fan zone at Place Bellecour, in the centre of the city.

Marseille

Marseille is France’s oldest city, and lies on the sun-soaked Mediterranean coast, making it one of the country’s most popular and well-known tourist destinations. Marseille’s location as a busy port town has made it a cosmopolitan city which won European Capital of Culture in 2013. Museums such as Le Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée and historical buildings such as the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde church or the Chateau d’If show that Marseille is far more than a beach resort.

Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome, home of Olympique de Marseille, is an imposing and modern stadium with a capacity of over 67,000. There will also be a fan zone at Prado Beach which can host over 80,000 ticketless fans!

Nice

France’s second-most popular tourist destination after Paris, Nice is famous for its wonderful climate and its stunning setting halfway between the Mediterranean coast and the mountains on the Italian border. Nice is home to a number of art museums such as the Matisse Museum, the Musee des Beaux-Arts and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The city also has a stunning old town and fantastic ports to discover.

Nice’s stadium, the Stade de Nice, seats 35,000 and also contains a sporting museum. The local team have been performing well this year and will no doubt be excited for more football in the summer. Nice will host two fan zones, a 10,000 capacity zone in Jardins des Albert, and an 8,000 capacity zone at the Quai des Etats-Unis.

Saint-Etienne

A large city which boasts a smaller, tight-knit community, Saint-Etienne has made its name as an industrial city in the east of France, however it has far more to offer tourists. Rue des Martyrs de Vingré is a great stop for a drink and a bite to eat, with bars and restaurants all in a row and an open, friendly atmosphere. Étivallière Sports Park is great for those who fancy a kickabout while they wait for matches to kick off, however it is also home to a fascinating museum about the local football team, AS St Etienne.

AS St Etienne is one of the most successful clubs in France, having won the French league a record 10 times. Their stadium, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, has a capacity of 42,000 and will host matches in the tournament. There is also a fan zone in Parc François Mitterrand, which will hold up to 20,000 people.

Image: (flickr.com/photos/jlggb)

Toulouse

Often named the most desirable city in France to live, Toulouse may not be France’s most popular tourist destination, but still has plenty to offer anybody paying a visit for the tournament. Walk the strip between Place Esquirol and the Carmes market and gorge yourself on duck and cassoulet in all of their forms, or visit the Toulouse-Lasbordes Aerodrome museum, which is dedicated to space travel. The city is nicknamed La Ville Rose due to its stunning terracotta-fronted buildings, and the architecture throughout the city is spectacular.

Toulouse FC play their games in Stadium de Toulouse, with a capacity of 35,000, also known as Little Wembley. There will be a number of games hosted here throughout the tournament as well as a fan zone for 12,000 fans at Allée Jules Guesde.

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