Paris is known as the city of lights, romance and, for the summer of 2016, the city of football too. Fans from all over the world have descended on France – and in particular the French capital – to watch Europe’s top teams battle it out to be champions. As you would imagine, the atmosphere is absolutely electric – the streets and bars are sprawling with football enthusiasts adorning their national kits and passionately willing their teams along. And as the competition passes into the knockout stages, the stakes couldn’t be higher. If you’re travelling to Paris for a football-themed holiday, check out the following tips on where to go to make the most of your trip.
The Fan Zone
Not much could be better than watching a live game at Stade de France or Parc des Princes stadiums; however, cheering on your favourite team under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower does come pretty close. The city of Paris has transformed the legendary Champ de Mars into an incredible fan zone with a capacity for 90,000 supporters. Entry is free of charge and the zone is open for all matches of Euro 2016. For your viewing pleasure they’ve installed an incredible 420m² screen in line with the Eiffel Tower, along with eight other screens in the zone. With hammocks, face painting and live music, the energy is, as you can imagine, absolutely amazing! Just be sure to get there early to grab a decent spot, particularly if you’re going to watch a France game!
Go to the city of Paris’s site for directions to the entrance zones.
France is a passionate football nation, so it’s probably harder to find a bistro or bar that isn’t showing the games than one that is! There are fantastic little areas like Denfert-Rochereau, Rue de la Roquette and Saint-Michel that have loads of places where you can wander in and enjoy a Croque Monsieur and glass of wine while watching the match. However, these places are usually limited to one or two 32 inch screens, so if you’re intent of soaking up the atmosphere of a great sports bar, here are some tips.
At the entrance to the beautiful Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, La Petite Halle is a perfect spot to watch the game in the surroundings of a quintessentially Parisian park. Equipped with a large screen and plenty of space, this bar is one of the trendier spots to watch the football, while enjoying an authentic, wood-oven pizza and a delicious cocktail.
Located on the amazingly vibrant Canal Saint Martin, Point Ephémère has gone all out for the Euros. Not only is this a less expensive spot in a great setting with a huge screen, Le Point Ephémère has also launched a couple of cultural treats to be enjoyed by football fans before and after the games. “Black Blanc Bled” is an exhibition created by a selection of artists to reflect the state of football in France at the moment. Also, the kitchen has concocted a special menu inspired by the Euros.
If you’re looking for something slightly different, check out The Lions pub in the 13th arrondissement. This venue has all the makings of a traditional English pub, but located in Paris. The pub is a favourite among English expats and tourists alike, and the atmosphere is unmatchable. There are six large screens, so you’re guaranteed to get a decent view, and if you arrive early you can make yourself comfortable on one of their decadent leather sofas.
If you’re looking for a more authentically French experience, then you should try Cannibale Café. This place is loaded with beautiful French décor and has all the trimmings to meet your football needs. They’re playing all the matches on their two huge screens, and offer reasonably priced lunchtime menus. You can also hang out after the game to celebrate or drown your sorrows on the dance floor, as there are DJ sets on every football evening.
Head to one of the eight Frog Pubs if you’re looking for a safe pair of hands. The microbrewery chain was originally set up as a watering hole for British expats, but more than 20 years on their bars are frequented by tourists and locals alike. Most of the bars have at least a couple of decent-sized screens, and they sell plenty of great snacks including nachos, fries and burgers to fill yourself up on during the game. The Frog at Bercy Village, The Frog and British Library and Frog XVI are particularly large venues so you’re almost guaranteed a seat if you get there a bit early.
Playing in the Parks
You might not want to spend all your time in Paris watching the football, so why not grab a ball and head to one of the Parisian parks for a kick-about? Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes are two huge parks just outside of central Paris with plenty of open spaces to lounge around and make the most of any good weather you might be lucky enough to have. Both parks offer stunning scenery and lakes with pedaloes and rowing boats if you feel like escaping the city and preparing yourself for the next big game!