Stadium de Toulouse

The biggest stadium in the Midi-Pyrenees region, the Stadium de Toulouse was given a nickname of ‘mini Wembley’ due to its similarity to England’s former national stadium after it had been built for the 1938 World Cup.

Situated on an island in the centre of Toulouse, a huge chemical explosion in 2001 resulted in extensive work being needed to repair the damage caused, and it has undergone another upgrade in time for Euro 2016, re-opening in January this year.

The stadium staged six matches at the 1998 World Cup, as well being a host venue for the Rugby World Cup in 2007, and it is also home to the Toulouse rugby club.

This summer, Toulouse will be host to four Euro 2016 games, including Spain’s opening match as they seek to win the European Championship for a third straight time.

Sights to see:
Toulouse is a typically picturesque French city and is known as ‘La Ville Rose’ (the Pink City) due to many buildings being constructed out of terracotta bricks.

The Garonne river has had many magnificent bridges cross it through the years, the Pont des Catalans, Pont Saint-Pierre and Pont-Neuf among them. For the best view along the river that includes the Château d’Eau water tower, head for the Quai de la Daurade.

The Toulouse-Lasbordes aerodrome is neighbour to a park dedicated to space exploration. Visitors to the centre can recreate Neil Armstrong’s most famous day by taking the chance to ‘walk on the moon’.

Between the beautiful Jardin Royal and Grand-Rond city centre green spaces is the fascinating Natural History museum.

If shopping is the order of the day, pay a visit to the Rue Alsace-Lorraine, packed with retail outlets and enchanting boutiques in equal measure to cater for all tastes.

Famous Events:
Toulouse is home to one of Europe’s most successful rugby clubs and four-time European champions. Three of their four European wins came via success in all-French deciders, ensuring they are rightly considered aristocrats of French rugby.

Fabian Barthez, the French World Cup-winning goalkeeper in 1998, began his career at Toulouse FC and will be the city’s Euro 2016 ambassador this summer.

Memorable Match:
On June 29, 1998 Netherlands overcame Yugoslavia 2-1 in their World Cup last-16 clash in Toulouse.

Dennis Bergkamp gave the Dutch a first-half lead before Slobodan Komljenovic equalised early in the second half. The game looked destined for extra-time until Edgar Davids drilled a 20-yard shot into the net in stoppage time.

Sent home from Holland’s Euro ’96 squad after a bust-up with coach Guus Hiddink, Davids had truly vindicated his re-integration to the squad and, as he rushed to embrace his manager on the touchline, Dutch football was united as one.

Group Stage Standout:
Spain v Czech Republic
Spain have been masters of all that they surveyed in Europe over the last eight years, winning both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. Their World Cup campaign in Brazil two summers ago began with a crushing 5-1 loss to the Netherlands and they would exit at the group stage with a whimper.

As they set out looking for an unprecedented hat-trick of European successes, they will want a much happier beginning in France.