Football fever has temporarily taken over the globe, as three of the home nations begin their campaigns to progress in the Euro 2016 tournament.
There’s plenty of football statistics and predictions already out there so we thought it would be interesting to look at the history and architecture of the tournament stadiums and their respective cities.
Stadium: Stade de France
Purpose built for the 1998 World Cup, the Stade de France is an impressive 80,000 capacity stadium that will host the Euro 2016 Final. A bit of trivia - Zinedine Zidane scored the only goal in the opening match held in the stadium, between France and Spain.
The Basilica of Saint Denis is the key building of interest in this northern suburb of the French capital. As well as being the burial place of nearly every French king from the 10th to the 18th centuries, the Basilica’s 12th Century renovations became for many the blueprint of Gothic architecture across many surrounding countries.
Stadium: Parc des Princes
Designed by Roger Taillibert, and built in 1972, the Parc des Princes is an astounding piece of modern architecture. It’s exterior design is based on fifty curved concrete columns that appear as if they are directing the sky into the stadium.
What can be written about Paris in such a short blog?!? As one of the most iconic cities in the world, Paris blends such a variety of French culture in just 42 square miles. The artist quarter of Montmartre is a dazzling sensory experience, with it’s beautiful meandering cobbled streets.
Stadium: Stade Velodrome
The home of Olympique de Marseille, the Stade Velodrome was purpose built in 1938 and also served for professional cycling for some time. Significant stadium improvements were made in 2014, including the stunning undulating roof.
Marseille continues to play a large part in French heritage, acting as the hub for the arts, economy & world trade in the south of the country.
Crowned European Capital of Culture in 2013, it’s now a great time to visit and view the fruits of the £6bn investment. One highlight includes Le Corbusier’s incredible reworking of modern housing to a hotel on the city’s outskirts, also home to star chef Alexandre Mazzia’s modern-cuisine Le Ventre de l’Architecte restaurant.
Stadium: Stade de Lyon
The Stade de Lyon is the brand new home of Olympique Lyonnais, only opening in January 2016 after a series of building permit and infrastructure issues.
Lyon itself is a historic city, located at the meeting of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The city centre is a melting pot that incorporates Roman, medieval and Renaissance architecture, and the contemporary redevelopment on the Presqu'île peninsula.
Stadium: Stade Pierre Mauroy
Costing around €300m, Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy is a multifunctional stadium that can adapt to sporting and musical events with a variety of audience levels. It also features a retractable roof, to avoid the influences of northern France’s weather.
A busy university town, Lille is one of France’s most underrated places to visit. The cultural centre of the town has retained many 17th century brick town houses. One can bring a little of the Lille look to your own home by considering Tatton Courtyard Cobbles, to replicate the quaint cobbled streets.
Stadium: Stade de Bordeaux
Another recently completed stadium, the Stade Matmut Atlantique (previously known as Stade de Bordeaux) was designed by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. Construction took longer than planned, as local residents contested the contributions of public funds to the project.
Bordeaux has undergone a major transformation in the last 15 years, mainly due to the progressive city mayor Alain Juppé. Traditionally a sleepy city famed for it’s wine, Bordeaux has invested heavily in it’s transport infrastructure and public spaces. There is now a wonderful juxtaposition of architecture throughout the city, with major funding provided for restoration of neo-classical buildings as well as brand new contemporary projects.
Stadium: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard
The oldest stadium in use at the Euro 2016 tournament, the Stade Geoffrey Guichard was originally built in 1931 and has had major improvements in 1956, 1968, 1984 and 1998.
From the 16th century Saint Etienne has been a market town with an unusual thriving industry in arms manufacture. The Château de Bouthéon castle is an essential visit, offering glimpses into times gone by from it’s medieval wing to the Renaissance wing. There are also both zoological and botanical gardens to be enjoyed.
Stadium: Stade de Nice (Allianz Riviera)
OGC Nice’s Allianz Riviera, located on the edge of the city in a semi rural area, officially opened in 2013. It’s a phenomenal modern structure, designed by Wilmotte & Associés, that cost an estimated €245m to complete.
The capital of the French Riviera, Nice is one of the most naturally beautiful coastal locations one could imagine. It’s history stretches as far back as the Greeks, and in more recent times, alongside Monaco, became a haven for Europe’s financial elite. Today the city is a blend of traditional affluence and contemporary energy.
One of Nice’s most iconic buildings, The Hotel Negresco, was built as recently as 1912 and symbolises the famous Promenade des Anglais. Also high on the To Visit list should be Place Garibaldi; a public square steeped in history.
Stadium: Stade Bollaert-Delelis
Amongst the frequent use of curves, glass and minimalism in modern stadiums, the Stade Bollaert-Delelis is refreshingly reminiscent of older and lower division English stadiums. It’s defined four sided design, straight lines and hard angles make it interesting viewing, rather than inspiring.
Lens is not particularly rich in fine architecture, given it’s gritty northern mining town history. In recent years however Lens has been given a must needed boost, that began in 2013 with the introduction of the Louvre-Lens art gallery, Galerie Du Temps. This incredible mirrored glass and aluminium structure, designed to both reflect and contrast the area’s terracotta palette, has been a huge talking point in immediate French culture.
Stadium: Stadium de Toulouse
First built in 1937, the Stadium de Toulouse was further developed in the late 1940’s and then remained virtually unchanged until the 1998 World Cup. It is situated rather uniquely on an island in the river Garonne.
Affectionately nicknamed La Ville Rose (the pink city), Toulouse’s subtle architectural pastel tones belie it’s status as one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in France. As one treads the brick paved streets the cities’ restaurants, arts and culture come to life.
The beautifully disjointed Toulouse Cathedral is one of the highlights of the city, with it’s cloudy history and what is generally regarded as one of the most incredible pipe organs in the world.