Contested every four years, the UEFA European Championship has been showcasing the continent’s top football talent since beginning in 1960. It consists of a qualifying competition, play-offs and a final tournament. For the first time in the history of UEFA, 24 teams are set to take part in the championships which are due to start on Friday 10th June. The hosts of the UEFA EURO 2016 finals are France, and the final game aims to take place at the Stade de France in the medieval town of Saint-Denis. For the opening ceremony, David Guetta is set to take centre stage presenting the official song on the field of play ahead of the opening match between France and Romania. Drawing inspiration from icons of popular French culture, the event is set to include around 150 Cancan dancers and an acrobatic demonstration of the French Air Force is set to fly over the stadium. During this time, the cities of France may be busier than usual, and the games may influence travellers to visit the country to absorb the atmosphere and explore cities other than the capital city of Paris.
Saint-Denis has hosted many sporting championships over the past few years, such as the Rugby World Cup in 2007, the Six Nations rugby tournament among other sporting events such as the international half-marathon, the Voie Royale. The Stade de France is a 80,000-capacity stadium built in 1995 and has hosted many games in the past including the FIFA World Cup final in 1998. Saint-Denis is located 10km North of Paris and may have a rich history with lots to offer for tourists who may wish to visit. For example, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis is associated with royal dynasties and has a distinctive gothic design. Forty-three kings, thirty-two queens, sixty-three princes and princesses repose there and there are daily tours available of the entire cathedral. In addition to this, visitors may choose to visit La Plaine district to gain insight into the character of Saint-Denis and an overview of the town. A mere 300m from the Saint-Denis Basilica is the Place Jean Jaures market, which is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and may be popular with locals and tourists alike. In the centre of Saint-Denis are two main streets, Rue de la Republique and Rue Gabriel Peri which is home to around 150 shops.
In addition to shopping and historic buildings, Saint-Denis is home to other attractions which may be of interest to tourists. For example, the Canal de l’Ourcq offers boat trips and a walking route which leads to a nearby Parc de la Bergere. Alternatively, the Air and Space Museum in nearby Paris Le Bourget airport may offer a different experience for those interested in exhibitions covering all themes of air and space. It is one of the first aviation museums in the world with more than 350 planes on display as well as the opportunity to climb onboard the Concorde, a Boeing 747, the Super Frelon helicopter or an American war plane. For those interested in visiting the national stadium of France, there are tours available which offer behind the scenes exclusivity. The tour may pass through inaccessible and unknown places to general visitors, such as the changing rooms, security rooms, press rooms as well as exhibitions documenting the venues construction and events which have taken place since. Tickets for adults start at 15 Euros with discounts for students and children. The official website of the Stade de France advises any guided tours during the UEFA Euro 2016 are suspended until the end of the games due to anticipated visitor numbers.
Which other countries in Europe are yet to host the UEFA European Championship?