UEFA Euro 2016: The Stadiums

The 15th UEFA European Championship takes place in France this summer and will be the biggest to date. With participants increasing from 16 to 24 teams, a brand new format will consist of six first round groups of 4 teams. The group winners, runners-up and four best third-placed teams then progress to a knock-out round of 16 until two teams remain to fight it out in the final on July 10. The Euros will be taking place in France for the third time after the very first competition in 1960 and again in 1984. This year’s expanded tournament will be played in ten different venues across the country:

Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/Pixfly

Saint-Denis – Stade de France

France vs Romania - Euro 2016

Image Credit: iStock.com/-Iznogood-

The competition kicks off at the national stadium in the northern suburb of Paris, Saint-Denis. Work on the 81,000 capacity stadium was completed ahead of the 1998 World Cup when the hosts memorably won their first and only world title at the stadium that year. As such, the Stade de France will forever remain a part of French footballing folklore. The stadium hosts the final again this year so naturally, the country will be hoping for a similar outcome.

One to watch: France v Romania (Opening game) June 10

Paris – Parc des Princes

Parc Des Princes Stadium

Image Credit: iStock.com/bhidethescene

A potential France triumph on home soil once again would complete a special hat trick for the team. Prior to 1998, the national team’s only previous major success was the 1984 European Championship, also held in France. On that occasion, they took the crown following a 2-0 victory over Spain in the final in front of a 47,000 capacity crowd at the Parc des Princes. This historic site previously underwent a number of incarnations as a multi-purpose arena primarily used for cycling – including the Tour De France finishing line. Major renovation saw it converted to a dedicated football and rugby venue in 1972. The following year, Paris Saint Germain took up residency and have played there since.

One to watch: Northern Ireland v Germany, June 21

Marseille – Stade Vélodrome

Velodrome Stadium, Marseille

Image Credit: iStock.com/Gilles_Paire

The Stade Vélodrome remains one of France’s architecturally unique arenas. Universally recognised thanks to its idiosyncratic look, the arena, as the name suggests, originally contained a cycling track around the pitch. When this was eventually removed, the stadium retained its bowl-like shape and ‘wavy’ design of the stands. Recent upgrades have seen a roof added and the capacity increased to 67,394 making it the largest club stadium in the country and second largest overall.

One to watch: France v Albania, June 15

Lyon – Parc Olympique Lyonnais

Parc Olympique Lyonnais - Lyon

Image Credit: iStock.com/ricochet64

France’s third largest city Lyon, down in the newly established Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is home to the newest stadium on this list. Replacing the old Stade de Gerland, Lyon’s new home is the 59,186 all-seater Parc Olympique Lyonnais. Completed just last year, the ground hosted its first match in January 2016. Located in the suburb of Décines, it is easily accessible by road or public transport from Lyon city centre.

One to watch: Belgium v Italy, June 13

Lille – Stade Pierre-Mauroy

Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

Image Credit: iStock.com/marcoscisetti

Another newly built arena is the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. The stadium opened in 2012 and was subsequently named in honour of former French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy following his death in 2013. The futuristic 50,186 capacity stadium is a multifunctional masterpiece. The football stadium can be converted into an arena for other sports such as basketball or tennis. This is done by raising, splitting and moving playing surface. This also creates a stage for music concerts and it even has a retractable roof to stop the rain getting in.

One to watch: Italy v Republic of Ireland, June 22

Bordeaux – Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Croatia vs Spain - Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux

Image Credit: iStock.com/marinhristov

Also built recently with tournament in mind is the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. The 42,115 seater home to Bordeaux was opened in May 2015. The stadium’s architects came up with a unique design for the arena. The roof is supported large poles rather than a wall for the ground’s exterior, leaving the flights of concourse stairs leading into the stadium exposed, giving it a distinctive open-air facade.

One to watch: Croatia v Spain, June 21

Toulouse – Stadium Municipal

Stadium Municipal, Toulouse

Image Credit: iStock.com/olli0815

Located on the Iles du Ramier on the river Garonne in the heart of Toulouse, the historic Stadium Municipal is the only one of three venues on this list to have hosted a match the first time France hosted a World Cup back in 1938. Since then the ground has been through to major renovations, the most recent before France 98. The ground currently holds just over 33,000 people making it the smallest venue in the competition.

One to watch: Italy v Sweden, June 17

Saint-Étienne – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

Saint Etienne – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

Image Credit: iStock.com/a40757

Saint-Étienne is the French league’s most successful club having won the Ligue 1 title a record 10 times. During its most successful period in the 60s and 70s, the stadium was nicknamed ‘le chaudron’ (the cauldron) and is perhaps known best for its more traditional ‘English’ design consisting of four adjacent stands rather than the ‘bowl’ shaped grounds that are more common today. The most recent renovations have seen the capacity increased to 42,000. The stadium is named in honour of the French entrepreneur largely responsible for a lot of the club’s early funding.

One to watch: Portugal v Iceland, June 14

Nice – Stade de Nice

Stade De Nice

Image Credit: iStock.com/marcoscisetti

Tucked away on the Côte d’Azur, the idyllic setting of Nice is home to another new stadium on this list. The Stade de Nice was completed in 2013 and holds 35,624 when full. It is well connected by transport in the region and is just 5km from Nice Airport if you happen to be flying in for a game.

One to watch: Sweden v Belgium, June 22

Lens – Stade Bollaert-Delelis

England vs Wales, Stade Bollaert-Delelis

Image Credit: iStock.com/-Iznogood-

Located in the small former coal-mining region of Lens, the Stade Bollaert-Delelis has the unique distinction of having a greater capacity (38,223) than the city itself (approx 34,000). The stadium design has gone from an initial oval shape when it was built in the 1930s to a four-stand rectangular shape as it was redeveloped down the years. Given the size of the city, it’s likely that spectators will opt to travel from nearby Lille or utilise the high-speed train from Paris.

One to watch: England v Wales, June 16

Related articles