Marseille offers Euro 2016 fans a chance to sample the delights of the Mediterranean coast as well as Europe’s top footballing action this summer.
The Velodrome is located in the south of the city, on the bank of the Huveaune river, and has undergone a major revamp ahead of Euro 2016.
Works were completed in September 2014, with the makeover costing an estimated €267m.
Stade Velodrome, as its name indicates, was home to a cycling track when it first opened in 1937 and was retained right up until the mid-1980s.
In the past, the Velodrome has hosted major sporting events including athletics, rugby, boxing and tennis, as well as large open-air concerts.
Marseille will be host city for six games during Euro 2016, and its impressive new stadium has been rewarded with a semi-final clash on July 7.
Sights to see:
Euro 2016 visitors should be guaranteed some good weather. Marseille is said to offer visitors 300 days of sunshine a year and a stunning 57km stretch of coastline, a vast chunk of which is located in Calanques National Park.
The Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde towers above the city, offering stunning panoramic views across the landscape. A golden statue of the Virgin Mary with child sits atop and it has become known as the symbolic protector of the city.
The Chateau d’If was a royal prison under the orders of King Francis I and makes for spectacular viewing sitting as it does on an island in the Bay of Marseille. The Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean attracted 2.6 million visitors in its first year after opening in June 2013.
Facing Albania in the Velodrome on June 15 will be a special moment for French manger Didier Deschamps. The former Marseille midfielder captained the club to their European Cup Final success against AC Milan in 1993.
French rugby club Toulon have staged some of their biggest games at Marseille’s Velodrome. On the way to the second of three successive European Cup wins in 2014, Toulon edged out former winners Munster in a tense semi-final battle at this venue.
At the Velodrome in the summer of 1998, Dennis Bergkamp scored one of the World Cup’s most iconic goals in Holland’s 2-1 quarter-final win over Argentina.
Bergkamp pulled a long pass from Frank de Boer out of the sky, nutmegged Roberto Ayala with his sublime second touch and then guided the ball into the top corner past Carlos Roa to send the Dutch into the last four with almost the final kick of the game.
Group Stage Standout:
France v Albania
Given the connections between French boss Deschamps and Marseille, the host nation’s clash with Albania at the Velodrome on June 15 is certain to be an emotional night.
His side will be eager to build momentum in the tournament and taking on finals debutants Albania should give them every chance to record a win in front of what will be a sell-out and partisan crowd.