After being picked to host the 2016 UEFA European Championship, which runs June 10 to July 10, France will be welcoming soccer fans to matches in 10 of its cities. In Paris, players and supporters will be heading to games at the Parc des Princes stadium, in the 16th arrondissement, and the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, just outside the city.
Here’s a look at a few things awaiting fans of the beautiful game prior to kick-off in the French capital.
Where to eat
* Savory specialties: The Paris food scene is buzzing right now. Among the French capital’s many Michelin-starred restaurants, football fans looking for fine dining can head to current hotspots Le Grand Restaurant, headed by Jean-François Piège in the 8th arrondissement, or Le Cinq at the Georges V luxury hotel, also in the 8th arrondissement ... so long as they’ve got cash to splash. For visitors on a tighter budget, Parisian restaurants held by heavyweight Japanese chefs, such as Shinsuke Nakatani (Nakatani, 7th arrondissement), Hideki Nishi (Neige d’Eté, 15th arrondissement) and Teshi (Pages, 16th arrondissement), offer a great alternative. Finally, those looking to experience the trendier, more vibrant side of the Paris food scene and rub shoulders with locals should head to the east of the city, to upmarket bistros like Septime (11th arrondissement) and Les Déserteurs (11th arrondissement).
another day, another glacé 🍦🇫🇷 || topped off our three-museums-in-one-day with delicious ice cream, made even better with a larger scoop size (because this is "a thing" if you love ice cream) and a pretty parlor ... Paris Day 5 ... #firsttimeinParis #kriebelsontour #allthemuseums #LeMarais #uneglaceaparis #icecreamisforlovers #weloveicecream #glacé
* Sweet treats: Paris has as many places selling sweet treats as it does restaurants! For some of the best ice cream in France, head to Emmanuel Ryon’s Une Glace à Paris. For traditional French pastries and cakes, don’t limit yourself to the now classic Ladurée. Sample the delights made by Christophe Michalak, Christophe Adam (L’Éclair de Génie) and Philippe Conticini (La Pâtisserie des Rêves), or tuck into brioches made by triple Michelin-starred chef, Guy Savoy. Gilles Marchal’s Montmartre patisserie is a great place to visit, and make sure you look out for mouthwatering creations by Pierre Hermé.
What to see
* Must-visit museum: Paris isn’t the kind of city that can be visited in a day. You’ll need to stay for at least three days to take in a good selection the city’s cultural highlights. But, if there’s only time to visit one thing -- aside from the unmissable Eiffel Tower -- then it’s got to be the iconic and timeless Louvre. The Louvre is packed full of artworks and antiquities, and is one of the biggest museums in the world. It’s probably wise to pick just one section to visit if you don’t want to be late for the match. Those seriously short on time can make a whistle-stop trip to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
* Free sightseeing: Soak up typical Parisian charm without spending a euro by strolling through one of the city’s many parks. The Jardin des Tuileries (1st arrondissement), between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, is one option, but the Jardin du Luxembourg (6th arrondissement) gives visitors more of a window onto the Parisian way of life.
When to come back
There are loads of great opportunities to come back and visit Paris. After the Euro, the next big event will no doubt be Paris-Plages, a summertime regular that turns the banks of the Seine into temporary beaches for both tourists and locals to enjoy. Visitors can limber up with a game of beach volleyball on the banks of the Seine or sip a cocktail under a parasol in the heart of the city. Otherwise, the winter holiday period is a great time to soak up the magical, fairytale feel of Paris in the run-up to Christmas. The city twinkles and shines as department stores bring their window displays to life with seasonal scenes. The city’s Christmas markets and the Ferris wheel in Place de la Concorde also add a festive feel.
The Stade de France stadium, located in Saint-Denis, just outside of Paris, will be hosting several Euro 2016 games, including the opening match and the final. A five-minute train ride from central Paris, Saint-Denis is a great place to explore for visitors keen to understand the history of Paris and France. The suburban city is home to the Saint-Denis Basilica, which houses the tombs of the Kings and Queens of France, including Philippe Auguste, François I and Catherine de’ Medici.