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Breaking Travel News investigates: France welcomes Euro 2016 kick-off

Breaking Travel News investigates: France welcomes Euro 2016 kick-off

A record 24 sides will contest the 15th UEFA European Championship in France over the next four weeks, with kick-off later today.

A much fancied France side will take on Romania in Paris, with hundreds of thousands of tourists expected to visit the destination before the final on July 10th.

More than 50 games will take place over 32 days in ten host cities.

From northern France to the Rhône Valley, the Atlantic Coast to the Riviera, host cities will be providing an extra special welcome to fans who can not only enjoy top class football but also the hospitality and atmosphere of some iconic sporting towns.

Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Toulouse, Saint-Denis, and Saint-Etienne will all welcome games.

Paris in particular is likely to enjoy the spotlight.

The opening ceremony takes place there this evening, followed by the opening match.

Early next month the Stade de France will also welcome the final of the championships.

A festive atmosphere will also fill the streets of the capital, with a Fan Zones on the Champ-de-mars and at the International Broadcast Centre at Porte de Versailles.

Paris will be caught up in the excitement of the Euro 2016.

In Bordeaux an immense fan zone will be set-up on the “Esplanade des Quinconces” for all matches.

The location will broadcast the different matches alongside a rich event program.

It promises to be one of the widest fan zones among the ten cities welcoming the championship.

All of the 51 matches will be broadcasted on a giant screen of 116 m².

Entirely free, the fan zone will be a strong gathering space both dedicated to celebration and football.

Some 91 animation projects including various themes have been selected by Bordeaux Town Hall in order to impulse a good pace to the whole celebration period.

Concerts will also be part of the program on non-playing days.

Jaques Lambert, president of the Euro 2016 organising committee, has said more than one million tickets were snapped up before the schedule of matches was even released.

In total more than eleven million requests were received.

Around 2.5 million supporters are expected to visit France as part of the competition, with spending set to pass €1 billion.

This will be the third time the competition has been hosted in France, following a USSR victory in 1960, and a triumphant home victory for the hosts in 1984.

In Lyon a Fan Zone will come alive as fun and lively place for fans to get together in a secure environment.

Open on match days throughout the competition it will welcome supporters and visitors of all ages.

All 51 Euro matches will be shown on the big screen located on the eastern side of the square (with another screen set up behind the statue of Louis XIV to ensure everyone gets a great view).

In the first round, guests will be able to watch up to three matches broadcast at 15:00, 18:00 and 21:00 local time.

Further on in the competition, there will be two matches followed by one match during the knock-out stage.

In Lens, which will welcome four matches during the tournament, the fan zone will certainly be a festive place.

Some 7,500-10 000 people are expected visit to watch one of the broadcasted matches.

Gervais Martel, Lens president, said: “I will attend all the games at the Bollaert-Delelis, but I have a special interest in England v Wales – it looks like a classic rugby test match.

“It is a game that will attract thousands of fans.

“It could be Wayne Rooney’s last international tournament and up against him will be Gareth Bale – it will be rocking in Lens.”

Lying close to the Belgian border, Lille will welcome its fair share of fans.

This cosmopolitan city with strong Flemish roots stands at the crossroads between France, the Low Countries and – since the arrival of the Eurostar in 1994 – England.

No town in France has suffered more sieges down the centuries, yet Lille wears its influences on its sleeves and the picturesque Grand’Place is reminiscent of Brussels or Amsterdam.

Known as Rijsel in Flemish, Lille is also a bustling metropolitan centre that has coped well with the decline of local industry since the 1960s.

It is famed for its bars and bistros, referred to locally as ‘estaminets’, and has a thriving cultural scene, as well as one of France’s frontline art museums.

Lille plays host to the biggest flea market in Europe, attracting around two million visitors each year on the first weekend of September.

Just north of Paris is the medieval town of Saint-Denis.

A royal burial place, capital of the Industrial Revolution and working-class city, Saint-Denis has changed greatly but has always adapted to the times.

After the Liberation of France, along with the rest of the country, Saint-Denis experienced major economic development, marked in particular by an industrial boom.

After the economic crises of the 1970s, Saint-Denis went through an unprecedented 30-year period of change.

No other area in Ile-de-France has undergone comparable demographic growth.

Football became a major part of Saint-Denis life with the laying of the foundation stone of the Stade de France in La Plaine district in September 1995.

Designed by four French architects (Michel Macary, Aymeric Zubléna, Michel Regembal and Claude Constantini), the 80,000-capacity stadium was constructed to host the 1998 FIFA World Cup final.

Further south is Marseille a city with a history inextricably linked with that of the Mediterranean Sea.

The largest port in the Mediterranean, Marseille is an outward-looking city that combines heritage and modernity.

In the midst of an urban regeneration process, the city is now focused on tourism and has established itself as a prime destination for Mediterranean cruise ships.

Five million people visited Marseille in 2013, when it was a European Capital of Culture, and many more are expected to follow this year – and in 2017, when it will be the European Capital of Sport.

France’s second most popular tourist destination after Paris, Nice is renowned for its balmy climate and spectacular setting between the Mediterranean coast and the mountains to the north.

Located just 30 kilometres away from the Italian border, the city has changed hands several times down the years and was last annexed by France in 1860, though it retains a strong Italian architectural legacy.

High-speed and express trains (TGV and Corail) connect the Cote d’Azur to the rest of France and major European cities.

The TGV Méditerranée completes the journey from Paris to Nice in five hours 30 minutes, arriving at the station situated in the heart of the city.

A cradle of the Industrial Revolution in France, Saint-Etienne became a centre of heavy industry and metalworking.

By the beginning of the 19th century the city was the biggest mining area in the country and France’s first railway was constructed here.

By the 1970s, Saint-Etienne’s industry was in decline and the city suffered a significant economic and demographic downturn.

The city will host four matches at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium on June 14th, 17th, 20th and 25th.

Finally, Toulouse, where supporters from all horizons and football lovers will have an excuse to come and discover the Ville Rose.

Nicknamed ‘La Ville Rose’ (the Pink City) on account of the terracotta bricks used in many of its buildings, Toulouse is France’s fourth-largest urban area.

The site of a human settlement since at least as far back as the eighth century BC, Toulouse has embraced the technological age in recent years, becoming the capital of the European aeronautics industry and boasting the continent’s largest space centre, as well as a vibrant university population.

More Information

For more information on the Euro 2016 Championships head over to the official website.