Belfast Telegraph

Food, wine and a feast of footy... what's not to like?

Adrian Rutherford tells you everything you need to know about Euro 2016

Q. So when is Euro 2016 taking place?

A. Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday June 10. The opening game will be played at the Stade de France and will feature the host nation.

The group stage runs from June 10 to 22. If Northern Ireland make it through their group, the round of 16 will be played between June 25 and July 3.

The quarter-finals are June 30 to July 3, with the semi-finals on July 6 and 7.

The final will be held at the Stade de France on July 10.

There will be up to four games a day, kicking off at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm UK time.

Q. And where will the games be played?

A. The games will be spread across 10 cities covering the length and breadth of France.The venues are:

  • Stade de France, Saint-Denis - 80,000 capacity;
  • Stade Velodrome, Marseille - 67,000 capacity;
  • Grand Stade OL, Lyon - 58,000 capacity;
  • Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille - 50,000 capacity;
  • Parc des Princes, Paris - 48,000 capacity;
  • Futur Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux - 43,000 capacity;
  • Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne - 41,500 capacity;
  • Allianz Riviera, Nice - 36,000 capacity;
  • Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens - 35,000 capacity;
  • Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse - 33,000 capacity.

Each of the 10 cities will host a minimum of four matches - three group contests and a knockout tie.

The bigger capacity stadiums will stage games from the quarter-finals onwards.

Q. So where will Northern Ireland be playing, and who will they face?

A. We won't know that for another two months. The qualifying campaign does not finish until Tuesday night, then there will be a round of play-off matches for those who just missed out.

The Republic of Ireland could yet be involved in a play-off if they don't beat Poland tomorrow.

The draw for Euro 2016 takes place at the Palais des Congrès de la Porte Maillot in Paris on December 12.

That will decide Northern Ireland's opponents plus the dates, times and venues of their games.

Q. How do I get tickets for Northern Ireland games?

A. Around one million tickets have already been snapped up since they went on sale in June and July. But don't panic, there are plenty more available.

Ticket sales for supporters of teams that have qualified - including Northern Ireland - start after December's draw and will continue for a month.

Fans can apply for 'Follow My Team' tickets, allowing them to attend all of their team's matches.

A resale system allowing fans to sell their tickets at face value to other fans will operate next March and April.

Ticket prices start at €25 (£18) and costs vary depending on the category of seat and stage of the tournament.

Q. I don't speak French. Any useful phrases?

A. You could find that these will come in handy:

  • Je ne parle pas français (I don't speak French);
  • S'il vous plaît, je cherche... (please, I'm looking for...);
  • Nous sommes perdus (we are lost);
  • Je cherche un distributeur de billets (I'm looking for an ATM/cash dispenser);
  • Quel temps va-t-il faire aujourd'hui? (What's the weather going to be like today?).

Q. And what's the best way to get there?

A. There are direct flights from Belfast to Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice and Paris. It is possible to fly directly from Dublin to Marseille and Toulouse.

The other venues, although not served by a direct flight from Belfast or Dublin, are in reasonably close proximity. For example, Saint-Etienne is a 40-mile drive from Lyon, while Lens is just over an hour by train from Paris.

Q. How will I get around France?

A. Internal flights are one option if Northern Ireland are drawn to play in destinations far apart, such as Lille and Nice - a 700-plus mile trip.

With a network of over 34,200km rail lines, trains are a great way to get around.

French cities also have excellent public transport systems.

There are métros (underground subway systems) in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille and Toulouse, plus tramways in cities such as Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Q. And where will I be staying?

A. Expect sold-out hotels and inflated prices.

Budget travellers might consider hostels and Airbnb apartments - and as far in advance as possible to get the best rates.

Hotels will be charging prices in excess of £150-£200 per night, especially in areas close to the stadiums.

One option is to hire a campervan and tour around France.

Q. What about the food and drink?

A. Where do you start? With bon appetit, perhaps.

Foie gras, cassoulet, choucroute, bouillabaisse, andouillette - every locality has its specialities and its own interpretations.

And if you're a wine connoisseur, France is the place to be.

Q. Most importantly, how much will it cost?

A. Hard to predict, and a lot depends on where Northern Ireland are playing and how long they stick around.

A few days in any one of the host cities could cost £300 to £400 between food, transport, accommodation and tickets.

At the very least, Northern Ireland will be there 10 days, and longer if we get through the group. So expect to pay anything from £1,000-plus, although camping would cut the cost significantly.

The advice is to start saving.

Belfast Telegraph


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