Soccer fever is high in France this summer. In June France is playing host to the UEFA Euro Soccer 2016 tournament. Larger than ever before, 24 teams will fight it out to see which country will be the European champions. This will be a spectacle to see if you’re in Europe this summer between 10th June and 10th July. At Sixt we’ve found where to see the soccer matches and what to see in the cities, so that you’re ready for kick off.
- Watch the Soccer: In Paris, the atmosphere will be electric this summer. More soccer games will be played here than any other city and it’s where the final will take place. Don’t panic if you haven’t got any tickets! The Fan Zone will be located at the iconic Champ de Mars, just below the Eiffel Tower. With capacity for 120,000 supporters, this will be a memorable place to view the game.
- Local delicacies: Known for its food culture, Paris has much to offer. For a quick on-the-go snack, the Croque-Monsieur, king of the cheese and ham toasty, is the answer and a Paris original. Looking for something more substantial? Steak-frites (steak and fries) are everywhere and are sold in almost all restaurants. Both sweet and savory, the crepe is the ultimate midnight snack and can be found throughout the capital late into the night.
- Embrace the Culture: To explore something different and spooky, head underground to the Catacombs. This maze of underground tunnels is lined with thousands of skulls from when the cemeteries overflowed. The splendor of Versailles is not to be missed. This baroque fantasy is only a 45 minute drive from the heart of Paris.
- Watch the Soccer: Stade de Nice, one of the newest stadiums in the tournament, was only built in 2013. Additionally, you can head to city center to the Albert 1st Gardens, which has the iconic backdrop of the Castel beach. This location has food and entertainment for during the soccer game and you can soak up the atmosphere with the locals.
- Embrace the culture: The heart of the city is the old cobbled center which is much unchanged from the 1700s. Cours Saleya square is where the most popular restaurants and bars are as well as hosting a regular food and flower market. Only a half an hour drive away is the luxurious principality of Monaco on the French Riviera. Here you can visit the glitz and the glamour of the Monte Carlo Casino and drive down the streets of the annual F1 Grand Pris.
- Local delicacies: Nice's proximity to Italy has created an extraordinary cuisine. We recommend that you try 'Pissaladiere', a pizza-like dish with carmelized onions and olives that's topped with shavings of cheese. Nice is also the birthplace of the Niçoise salad, so try the original with a refreshing glass of local rose wine.
- Watch the Soccer: There are many places to watch the soccer in Lille. As well as the Stade Pierre Mauroy, you can also check out the Fan Zone at Place Francois Mitterrand and several sports bars, such as MacLarens.
- Embrace the culture: Lille is close to Belgium, so hop across the border to the Flemish town Ypres. Only a 40 minute drive from Lille, the town boasts a stunning traditional center as well as many WW1 memorial sites like the Hooge crater.
- Local delicacies: The Flemish influence is found in the cuisine in Lille, for example thin, filled waffles - ‘gaufres’. Another typical northern dish to try is ‘moules-frites’, mussels and chunky fries. To wash this down, try a regional beer. Strong tasting and with high alcohol content, you can choose from white, amber, or dark beers.
- Watch the Soccer: In Marseille head to the beach to watch the soccer. The Prado Beach is where the fan zone will be with food village as well as live music events in the evenings. A keen soccer city, there are also many atmospheric bars to watch the game such as the OM Brasserie with 13 television screens.
- Embrace the culture: Once an old shipping village, walk to the beautiful old quarter Vallon des Auffes to get an old world feel. Here you can escape the hubbub of the center and soak up some local culture. Make the most of the coast and enjoy the sun by going snorkeling or kayaking in the warm Mediterranean waters in the Calanques National Park. A perfect way to refresh yourself after the excitement of the soccer!
- Local Delicacies: Whilst staying by the sea, the must try dish is the ‘Bouillabaisse’, a local fish soup served with separate potatoes, croutons, and cheese. If you have a sweet tooth, why don’t you try a 'Navette' a local biscuit shaped like a boat that can be found at "Four des Navettes", the oldest bakery in Marseille.
- Watch the Soccer: Only a year old, the ultra-modern Stade de Bordeaux is an architectural wonder designed by Herzog & de Meuron. It seats 42,000 people and includes a 200 seat restaurant. Or else you can try to Sweeney Tod’s sports bar, a little English pub where you can eat a juicy burger while watching the game.
- Embrace the culture: While in the capital of wine, make sure you take the time to go out to the cool shade of the vineyards. For a chilled, English language tour, sign up with Rustic Vines for wine tasting whilst exploring grand old chateaus (‘castles’). You'll learn about harvesting and pressing processes and enjoy a broad range of local wine and a complementary feast of regional produce.
- Local Delicacies: ‘Entrecote sauce au vin’ is one of the most beloved among locals and visitors. This is rib steak marinated in a rich sauce made from wine, shallots, butter, bone marrow and herbs.
- Watch the Soccer: In Toulouse, Stadium Municipal de Toulouse is where the games will be held. Don’t worry if you don’t have tickets, the fan zone at Allée Jules Guesde will be an electric open air space with food and other entertainment available.
- Embrace the culture: The specialty to try here is Toulouse sausage. It’s only sold in a few markets in the center of Toulouse so make sure it has the red label to know that you are getting the real deal. Nicknamed ‘the Pink City’ after the pinkish tint to the terracotta bricks, there are many unique architectural gems from the middle ages onward in the city center. Toulouse is the aerospace industry center for Europe, so explore the Cite de l’Espace with real space craft and miles of exhibitions and gardens.
- Watch the Soccer: The newest and most expensive stadium in the Euros 2016, Stade de Lyon just opened this January. At the heart of the city, the fan zone will be at the Place Bellecour between the rivers Rhone and Saone. Vieux Lyon will be another place to mix with locals for the big soccer games. We suggest you try the bar Saint James with a large screen and tasty food.
- Embrace the culture: Vieux Lyon is also a UNESCO world heritage with Renaissance architecture and narrow, cobbled streets. Get a great view of the city by slowly climbing the Fourviere hill in a funicular.
- Local Delicacies: Famed for its food, Lyon has many small lively restaurants called ‘bouchon’. Sausages, cooked in any way possible, are found everywhere in this city. Saucisson Rosette de Lyon is a safe bet or be bold and try the intestinal sausage ‘Andouillette’ barbecued or fried.
- Watch the Soccer: The Euro matches will take place at the eco-friendly Stade Geoffrey-Guichard which gets its electricity from solar panels and recycled cooking oils. Otherwise, local favorites for watching soccer are the bustling Café St Jacques or the Fan Zone at the François Mitterrand Park.
- Embrace the Culture: Take a short scenic drive 8 miles west and you’ll be at the town Saint-Victor-sur-Loire, here you can take a chilled cruise along the Loire River through the beautiful countryside.
- Local Delicacies: To find a typical French café, head to Places Jean Jaurés, a quaint square with fountains, churches and many eateries. We recommend you try Fourme de Montbrison cheese and the ‘rosette’ salami for a light lunch.
- Watch the soccer: With a 35,000 capacity, Stade Bollaert-Delelis has the rare ability to hold almost the entire population of Lens. As with the other cities, the Fan Zone at Place Jean Jaurès allows locals and visitors to mingle and enjoy the soccer together.
- Embrace the culture: For art lovers, the Louvre-Lens allows you to admire masterpieces outside of Paris. Alternatively, head out of Lens and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the old slag heaps leftover from the cities mining roots. Further from the city is another natural wonder, Avesnois Regional Park, where you can go hiking.
- Local Delicacies: Potato snacks with cheese and meat can be found at Patatam as well as ‘La LOCO’, a British-style chip shop by the central train station.
Make the most of your trip to France by heading out of the city into the countryside and neighboring towns where you can discover hidden away chateaus and sample local cuisine. Driving gives you the flexibility to nip across border to Belgium or the freedom to go snorkeling in small inlets along the Mediterranean coast. With a great network of highways, all cities easy to reach and not a long drive away. Enjoy scenic routes between the cities, such as the stunning coastal roads between Marseille to Nice possible with a one way rental. With the ease of having your own vehicle, you can avoid the crowded train stations and comfortably drive straight to the stadium.
France Driving Tips
In France, like the USA, you drive on the right. However, the speed limits are signposted in kmph not mph and the speed limit in cities is 50km/h. If you use a highway, remember that they frequently are tolled. Another important point to be aware of is that blood alcohol levels are stricter than in the USA, 0.5 mg/ml (0.05%) as opposed to than 0.8 mg/ml (0.08%). For more tips, read our article about Driving in France.
Most of all stay safe and enjoy the ride!
When travelling with a larger group, you might want to consider hiring a SUV, minivan or passenger van. You’ll have plenty of space for all your luggage and can easily travel as a group. Plus, being together certainly makes your trip more memorable.
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