The murmur of the crowd, the faint smell of overpriced lager, the guy behind you making almost defamatory comments about the opposition manager – let’s be honest, we all absolutely crave the sensory bombardment of a good football stadium. old-fashioned at the time.
For some of us, the situation is so bad that we have gone desperately looking for Ligue 1 games this weekend (where some fans have been allowed to return) just to spice up the weekend with a bit of atmosphere. Nothing against the guy, but watching Kylian Mbappé miss a goalie against Reims the other day to a chorus of taunts instead of the now usual sound of silence almost bought me a tear in my eyes.
Fan presence aside, one thing you can learn from watching Ligue 1 games is that they have some nice stadiums in France – a really nice mix of modern and inventive stadiums in architecture, classic pitches and stunning views (it’s just a shame for all the rugby teams they have to share with).
So without further ado, let’s dive into the wonderful world of French football fields, in a classified list that will separate your Pierre Mauroys from your Geoffroy Guichards …
Affectionately nicknamed “Little Wembley” because of its oval shape, Toulouse Municipal Stadium is one of France’s most historic grounds, having been built to host the 1938 World Cup.
If he had the honor of welcoming both Pelé, during a tour with Santos, and Maradona, in a match where Toulouse conquered his Napoli team, he also has the embarrassment of regularly hosting rugby matches, and consequently loses points for it.
The powers which decided that a “Nice stadium” was necessary in both senses of the word after The Aiglons left the much smaller municipal stadium, and although sounds like a hotel, the Allianz Riviera is exactly that.
Obviously, it looks a lot like the Allianz in Munich, using the same slightly oval shaped paneled facade, but if it’s beautiful, sometimes it has to be done twice!
What really sets the new gaff from Nice is its position at the very foot of the French Alps, which means you can at least indulge in snowboarding after a crushing day-long defeat.
Okay geography pedants, it’s not technically in France but rather in the Principality of Monaco, but Monaco also plays in Ligue 1 and this stadium is absolutely magnificent, so I have no choice but to choose it .
A stone’s throw from the shimmering view of the Mediterranean for which this part of the Côte d’Azur is renowned, the colorful roof and decorative arch of this stadium make it appear in harmony with its historic environment.
However, all that flowery stuff aside from the Stade Louis II can also only seat 16,360 spectators, which we can all admit is way too small.
Another from the old guard of French stadiums, and a cauldron worthy of its best (historic) club, Green Hell (‘The Green Hell’) hasn’t let his advanced age of 90 stop him from hosting crack games.
From England’s point of view, you will certainly remember it as the scene from this 1998 World Cup match against Argentina, and you will have tried to forget the goalless draw against Slovakia that took place there during Euro 2016.
Plans to leave the stadium in 2009 were so violently rejected by fans that it was instead renovated, and it now has a capacity of almost 42,000.
The exterior of this stadium, which looks like something one would see at the Center Pompidou, is undoubtedly an acquired taste. It’s made up of dozens of slender beams that support a matchbox-shaped roof, and you must be starting to think you’re in a multi-story parking lot at some point.
But the creativity and size of this very modern 42,000-seat stadium, which Bordeaux moved into in 2015, sets it apart from many others in France, and when fully lit there is a smooth beauty, to which the ethereality of the slender beams adds. at.
In other words, the perfect place to watch former FIFA Ultimate Team legend Jimmy Briand kick a ball.
Okay, enough stadiums built with the intention of winning the Turner Prize, what we really came here to see is a slightly aging classic pitch that absolutely bounces around on match days and has a lovely, loud kop.
Unlike many French stadiums, which also serve as athletic venues, the Bollaert’s four separate stands are crammed right next to the pitch, much like a stadium you would see in the championship on any given Saturday.
His crown jewel is the Marek, a kop named after former Lens striker Anton Marek, a 4,000-seat Kop where security was introduced.
Lille are another of the most historically successful clubs in France, and they too have an absolute stadium to support their rich reputation as a footballer, although this was built in 2012.
This is not your average stadium, with a complex hydraulic system that allows it to change its capacity depending on the sporting event taking place there at the time – so tennis fans, there is even something for you guys here.
It also has one of the the classic features of any stadium built over the past ten years, a retractable roof, which you have to assume was likely hit by some of Nicolas Pépé’s crosses during his time there.
Parc des Princes is a charming little stadium – quaint, neat and modern, yet capable of accommodating its fair share of supporters (just over 47,000), and with lovely nods to tradition.
However, the only problem is that PSG, with their Air Jordan and £ 200million footballers, could be a bit too big at the moment, and a complicated series of negotiations could ensue, either to buy the Park. purely and simply, either to find a new home for The Parisians. Talk about gratitude!
Originally titled “OL Land”, a name that reminds you of a roller coaster park with Karim Benzema-themed rides, Lyon’s shiny new stadium (opened in 2016) was the baby of Jean-Michel Aulas (you remember of him, Arsenal fans?).
Huge and imposing, it’s also beautifully lit at night, adorned with a unique LED lighting system which gives it one of the most stunning facades of any stadium on this list.
With Lyon appear to be able to mass-produce world-class midfielders at will, don’t be surprised if this is the setting for nights of glory in the club’s bright future.
An absolute footballing cathedral, and the sight of both despair and ecstasy for the French national team – they won the 1998 World Cup on this pitch, but were humbly bowled over by Portugal and the humble Eder , in Euro 2016.
Despite opening in 1995, it has witnessed so much history, but there is one main blemish in its notebook, and that is the existence of a race track. France apparently love a multi-purpose stadium, and they can discuss all they want from the retractable pitches, it definitely separates the viewer from the action.
Nevertheless, one of the the superb modern stadiums and an (almost) perfect achievement.
This one really ticks all the boxes.
Historic with a touch of modernity, hosts a legion of super passionate supporters every week, panoramic and the home of an iconic club. More importantly, it was a multi-purpose stadium and then President Bernard Tapie very wisely decided to get rid of most of this waste and mainly make it a football stadium (he was also accused of fixing the victory Marseille in the European Cup but no one is perfect).
Perhaps the key factor is that it has undergone a lot of renovations since it was built in 1935, and in doing so, it has kept pace with the times quite well – I’m sure there’s a valuable lesson somewhere about the perseverance.