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Euro 2016 France: Plan the perfect trip

With UEFA’s premier International European tournament, EURO 2016 fast approaching, football fans all over the world are in for a real treat! Undaunted of the infamous Paris attacks, the die-hard football fans are without doubt going to throng France with all their passion, devotion and zeal for the country they support. The best thing about the tournament beginning in June is, that it’s in fact the best time to visit France. Not only is the weather warmer and often very pleasant, but probably the best part of visiting France in June apart from the EURO, is the abundance of beautiful flowers all over the country. Heavy spring rains have usually given way to more sunshine and left behind blooming fields of everything from tulips to sunflowers all around the country. I have picked 5 popular teams that arguably have the biggest international fan bases, whom you could follow in the group stages along with having the ideal vacation in France. Hurry up and book your tickets.

1. France

France football team topic
Image Credits: Mirror.co.uk

Managed by former EURO winner Didier Deschamps, the Les Blues would definitely look to repeat the EURO 2000 success on home soil. Despite being chokers off late in international tournaments, France have the best chance this year to emerge as champions as they have home advantage and also, the squad is gifted with bountiful talent with the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, top Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, and the experience of the skipper Hugo Lloris.

    Match 1: France vs Romania

    When: 10th June at 8PM

    Where: Stade de France, Paris

What better place to start their EURO journey than in Paris? A match which is surely going to be filled with a mix of sentiments and pressure from the home fans. The Romanians would be no walk in the park for France, having been undefeated in the EURO qualifiers. Don’t be too disappointed if you fail to get tickets for this opener. There would be several large screen screenings and pubs around the stadium with amazing fervour, frenzy and intensity.  Take a look at our sample itinerary giving you an idea on the things to do in Paris.

    Match 2: France vs Albania

   When: 15th June at 8PM

   Where: Stade Velodrome, Marseille

   How to get there: Flight (1H 15mins) from Paris

After a few days in Paris, which is never bereft of things to do, book a round-trip flight to Marseille for the second game against Albania, who shocked France in a 1-0 victory last year in a friendly game. Clearly one of the underdogs in this tournament, the French fans are surely looking forward to a rout!

   Match 3: Switzerland vs France

   When: 19th June at 8PM

   Where: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille

   How to get there: Train from Paris ( 4H )

After the game at Marseille, head back to Paris. From Paris, take the scenic train journey to the city of Lille to watch the much awaited game of the Group – Switzerland vs France. This could be the potential decider for the group topper, with both teams going for the win. Switzerland are not short of talent and did impress in the recent World Cup by reaching the final 16. Led by charismatic skipper Gokhan Inler and Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss would surely be a force to reckon with!

2. England

England
Image Credits: Mirror.co.uk

England probably has the most fans from around the world, given the popularity of the English Premier League. Albeit winning all their qualifying games, the team is yet to convince their fans on how well they can do in the big stage, given their disastrous performances in the last decade in the World Cups and the Euros. With an extremely young and inexperienced team,  skipper Wayne Rooney would have an immense amount of pressure on him to deliver, as the English fans and the media are merciless, and are tired of seeing their team bereft of glory.

   Match 1: England vs Russia

   When: June 11th at 8PM

   Where: Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Playing Russia in the first game, who almost didn’t make it through to the EURO qualifiers, and riding low on confidence, England have the perfect opportunity to start off with a bang in a not-so-easy group. Having the habit of leaving it late to qualify to the knock-out stages, Roy Hodgson’s men would be looking to set sail smoothly this time around.

    Match 2: England vs Wales

    When: June 16th at 2PM

    Where: Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens

    How to get there: Flight to Lille (1H 35M) and a short train ride to Lens (35M) 

Easily one of the most awaited games of the tournament, this face-off between the two British teams would be a stiff affair. A team with a not so decorative past, Wales has definitely produced some quality players with the likes of Gareth Bale, Joe Allen, and Aaron Ramsey leading the Welsh charge. This is one evening where Lens would be the city to be in!

    Match 3: England vs Slovakia

    When: June 20th at 8PM

    Where: Stade Geoffroy Guichard, St Etienne

    How to get there: Train ( 5H )  from Lens

The Slovakians would look to cause another upset in an international tournament by surprising England, as they did to Italy by dumping them out in the 2010 World Cup. Though they are underdogs, they shouldn’t be written off yet as they recently displayed a splendid performance against Spain in the qualifiers to beat them 2-1. The city of St. Etienne is not a very touristy area, so head to Paris after the game and spend some time there before heading back home.

3. Germany

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Image Credits: nydailynews

Ah! The World Champions! The team to beat in this edition is undoubtedly, Germany. However, there are concerns for the world champions. Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose, two of their most key players in the past several years have retired. New Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger isn’t his usual best anymore, and a lot of hopes would be resting on Marco Reus, who is often riddled with injuries. Nevertheless, Germany are a team coupled with the perfect mix of youth and experience to win them that coveted crown of EURO 2016.

    Match 1: Germany vs Ukraine

    When: June 12th at 8PM

    Where: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille

Playing their first match against the competition minnows Ukraine, who have made it through the qualifiers for the first time, the Germans should be off to a flying start in the competition. The main concern for Germany in this match would be the impressive wingers of Ukraine, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko.

     Match 2: Germany vs Poland

     When: June 16th at 8PM

     Where: Stade de France, Paris

     How to get there: Train from Lille ( 3H )

A mouth watering fixture this, with plenty of history behind it, this clash is sure to bring out blood, sweat and tears between the two teams and give us a sensational match to watch! Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best centre-forward in the world at the moment. Having beaten Germany 2-0 in the qualifiers, the Polish are no pushovers any more, and can take the game to Germany. This match is definitely not to be missed whatsoever!

      Match 3: Germany vs Northern Ireland 

      When: June 21st at 5PM

      Where: Parc des Princes, Paris

      How to get there: Train from Lille ( 4 H )

Germany have the luck of having 2 continuous games in the same city and also facing the newbies of EURO, Northern Ireland, who qualified with the prolific Kyle Lafferty leading the charge.  The tiny province of fewer than two million people has never before appeared at a European Championship and has not been to a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup. Germany would look to finish off the minnows and head to the knock-out stages on a high.
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4. Spain

spain
Image Credits: tumblr

The reigning European champions are one of the favourites to clinch the EUROS! They had a nightmare World Cup, but still remain a major force and threat. Winning the EURO this year would make it a hat-trick for Spain and serves as the perfect motivation to achieve the incredible feat. With still no clarity on who will start upfront for Spain, the team’s midfield is however arguably the best in the business, boasting the likes of David Silva, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta.

     Match 1: Spain vs Czech Republic

     When: June 13th at 2PM

     Where: Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse

Czech are a team led by the vast experience of Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky, and cannot be taken lightly at all. After all, they topped their qualifying group, beating Netherlands in the process. Although they aren’t very easy on the eye, they sure have got what it takes to stun any opponent!

    Match 2: Spain vs Turkey

    When: June 17th at 8PM

    Where: Stade de Nice, Nice

    How to get there: Flight from Toulouse ( 1H 5M )

These 2 teams face off at the beautiful city of Nice, known for its pristine beaches. But on that particular day, the only thing Nice is going to be known for, is this game! Turkey are a team full of warriors with Barcelona’s Arda Turan leading them. A well balanced team that is hungry for victory in every game, Spain could be in for a shock! Turkey’s manager, Fatih Terim brings in loads of experience and we’re all excited to see his side in this edition of the EURO.

    Match 3: Spain vs Croatia

    When: June 21st at 8PM

    Where: Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

    How to get there: Flight from Nice ( 1H 15M )

Probably one of the most exciting group stage games, this one is going to be really really easy on the eye. Both teams have a great midfield, which are equally capable of producing moments of brilliance. Croatia’s midfield led by Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mateo Kovacic are good enough to destroy opponents with their trickery and skills. Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic would be a constant threat to Spain’s defence aerially, and all this match comes down to is, who gets their tactics executed right! Unfortunately for Croatia, their defence department is not as good as they would like it to be. Things to do in Bordeaux are listed towards the end of the blog.

5. Portugal

portugal
Image Credits: todayonline

After a poor World Cup run, the Portugese are back on the front foot again with new manager Fernando Santos winning his first 7 games in charge. With captain Cristiano Ronaldo in top form, his team-mates would look to add the right amount of support he needs to get them going on a good run. Having arguably the most popular player in the world in their squad, there certainly wouldn’t be a dearth in the support the team receives from around the globe.

     Match 1: Portugal vs Iceland

     When: June 14th at 8PM

     Where: Stade Geoffroy Guichard, St Etienne

Iceland’s journey to the EURO has been nothing short of historic! A country with a population of about 3 Lakh, they took us all by surprise by securing qualification from a difficult group comprising of Turkey and Netherlands. Although it’s doubtful that they can continue their successful run, the passion with which the team plays is amazing to watch!

    Match 2: Portugal vs Austria

    When: June 18th at 8PM

    Where: Parc des Princes, Paris

    How to get there: Train from St Etienne ( 4 Hours )

The game of the group! With both these teams favourites to proceed to the next round, this match is probably the decider for the table topper. With the likes of Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic and Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, Austria are very well capable of handling Portugal and keeping Ronaldo at bay. With 9 straight qualifying wins, Austria are on a high and have left the tag of ” underdogs ” behind them. Truly a spectacular match for the Parisians to watch on that night.

    Match 3:  Portugal vs Hungary

    When: June 22nd

    Where: Stade de Lyon, Lyon

    How to get there: Train from Paris ( 2 Hours approx. )

Probably the weakest team of the lot, Hungary are back to a major tournament after 30 years! With none of their first team players playing in Europe’s top leagues, they sure are in for a very very difficult campaign.

Now let’s take a look at the various things you could do in the prime cities of France, apart from watching the games.

Paris

  • The Palaces of Versailles is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. This stunning historic castle with its beautiful architecture and gardens, and deep history is a must visit sight.
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Image Credits: fanpop
  • Apart from the mainstream tourism spots like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre museum, head to the famed catacombs if you have a sense of adventure. Beneath this bustling European city of 12 million people, lies a dark subterranean world holding the remains of 6 million of its former inhabitants. These are the Paris Catacombs: a network of old caves, quarries and tunnels stretching hundreds of miles, and seemingly lined with the bones of the dead. Click here to check out the best catacombs from around the world.
Image Credits: travelandleisure
  • The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.
Image Credits: parcduvaldeloire
  • The Saint-Chapelle. This Gothic masterpiece, built by Louis IX (1214-70) as a shrine for his holy relics of the passion and completed in 1248, is considered the most beautiful church in Paris.
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Image Credits: wikimedia

Marseille

  • Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. In a breathtaking hilltop location, this spectacular church stands on the summit of Marseille as its most important landmark, visible from afar.
Notre_Dame_de_la_Garde
Image Credits: wikimedia
  • The Chateau d’If is the island fortress located off the coast of Marseille France. It became famous as a result of the publication of a book by the French writer Alexandre Dumas called “The Count of Monte Cristo”. Visitors can take a ferry boat from the Vieux Port (Old Port) to the Island of If to tour that historic site.
Marseille.Château_d'If_(2)
Image Credits: wikimedia
  • The Vieux Port represents the birthplace of Marseilles. This is where the city began as a Greek port around 600 BC. Surrounded by serene blue waters, the Old Port is located in the west of Marseilles near the Canebière boulevard. A stroll around this ancient harbour gives visitors a feel for the thriving Mediterranean atmosphere of Marseilles.
Image Credits: marseille-panoramique
  • The French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur) is the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France. It includes famously glamorous beach resorts such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes, and the independent micro-state of Monaco.
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Image Credits: ytimg
  • Nice’s Promenade des Anglais is part of the heart of this seaside French city. It is lined with cafes situated directly on the beach, and it’s a bustling area active with cyclists, runners, walkers and rollerbladers.
Promenade_des_Anglais_in_Nice
Image Credits: wikipedia
  • The Opéra de Nice is the principal opera venue in Nice, France. It offers three types of performances: operas, ballets and classical concerts ; and houses the Ballet Nice Méditerrannée and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra.
Opéra.de.Nice.original.22578
Image Credits: thousandwonders

Bordeaux

  • Bordeaux Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux-Bazas, located in Bordeaux. The cathedral was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096. Of the original Romanesque edifice, only a wall in the nave remains.
Image Credits: thousandwonders
  • Place de la Bourse is part of the Port of the Moon, Bordeaux, which has been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage since 2007. The royal square is a fine example of the outstanding urban ensemble that was built in the 18th century, during the reign of King Louis XV.
Place.de.la.Bourse.original.22895
Image Credits: thousandwonders
  • Bordeaux Vineyards. The 1,000 square-kilometers (62 square-miles) surrounding Bordeaux is one mighty big vineyard, divided into 60 appellations with 8,500 wine growing producers called chateaux. It’s mind-blowing stuff, but a day spent on the ground visiting premier vineyard estates will help you make sense of it all. Bordeaux wines can be divided into four sub-regions. North of the city of Bordeaux, the Médoc wine region is celebrated for its well-balanced Margaux, Pauillac and Saint Julien reds.
Image Credits: Bordeaux.com

All in all, heading to France this June, would be the ultimate experience! Hurry up and book your tickets before it runs out! Drop us a postcard so we can craft the perfect vacation for you to France!

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