This June, England will be rewarded for their flawless qualifying campaign with a place at the finals of the 2016 European Football Championship. After matches against Russia and Wales, the Three Lions will face Slovakia on 20th June. The game will take place at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard in St Etienne.
Thinking of driving down to St Etienne to catch the game? Here’s what you need to know about where it’s taking place and how to get there.
Stade Geoffroy Guichard St Etienne
Stade Geoffroy Guichard in the city of St Etienne has the charming nicknames of the ‘Le Chaudron’ (the Cauldron) and ‘L'Enfer Vert’ (the Green Hell), the latter being a reference not to the immaculate grass but to the colours of the local football team, AS St Etienne FC.
The stadium, which has a capacity of 42,000, has pedigree as an international football venue, having played host to matches during the 1984 European Football Championships and the 1998 Football World Cup.
The England team itself has a history with Stade Geoffroy Guichard, although it’s not one most fans would care to remember. The St Etienne FC ground happens to be where the Three Lions were eliminated after penalties by Argentina at the aforementioned World Cup Finals.
The stadium was constructed in 1931 with a capacity of just 1,800, and has seen regular upgrades and renovations in the decades since. This includes the addition of two giant screens in 2007, which were retained after that year’s Rugby World Cup.
A huge programme of renovations has been taking place in preparation for the 2016 European Football Championships. All stands have been upgraded with new seating and major improvements have been made to its corporate and hospitality facilities. The stage will be set for a memorable experience for the travelling fans.
England v Slovakia
There’s no chance of England’s hard-luck history with penalties repeating itself when the England men return to Stade Geoffroy Guichard for the first time since the 1998 defeat, not least because they’re meeting Slovakia in the group stages.
The Three Lions will fancy their chances against Slovakia, despite the Eastern European team having qualified first in their group and achieving their highest ever FIFA rankings last year.
England vs Slovakia, the third game of England’s group stage campaign, kicks off at 8pm on Monday 20th June.
AS Saint-Étienne FC
Although a multipurpose stadium, Stade Geoffroy Guichard lives and breathes football. In 1956 the athletics track was removed to bring the spectators closer to the game, giving the venue more of what was considered an ‘English atmosphere’ for AS Saint-Etienne FC matches.
Association Sportive de Saint-Étienne Loire, usually known as AS Saint-Etienne or ASSE, plays at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard. This Ligue 1 outfit were a dominant force in French football throughout the 1960s and 1970s and have won a total of 10 league titles, in addition to a host of other honours.
Although their star has fallen a little since their heyday, this remains a historic stadium for a historic Ligue 1 club.
How to get to St Etienne, France
The city of St Etienne sits 509 miles south-east of Calais and 325 miles from Paris. If you’re planning to drive from the UK you can choose from:
- A car ferry, most commonly from Dover to Calais (while there are lots of other options to consider, St Etienne’s inland location means there’s very little driving time to be saved by choosing another port on the French side)
- The Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais
Car ferries sail from Dover to France every day of the year, running through the night, which can be helpful if you need to squeeze in a trip to the football around a short holiday.
Most people get to Dover on the M20, which merges into the A20 at Folkestone. From there, carry on to the Eastern Docks roundabout and take a left.
The Eurotunnel has its own motorway exit at Folkestone, which you’ll find at junction 11A of the M20. This will take you straight to the check-in booths.
From Calais, there are basically two route options with similar likely journey times.
- Marginally shorter is to bypass Paris, passing Lens, Reims, Troyes, Dijon and the northern outskirts of Lyon
- Alternatively, you can include some sightseeing around Paris in your trip and head first for the French capital. When ready to push on south, leave Paris on either the A10 towards Orleans or the A6 towards Auxerre
Assuming you want to take the first option, driving to St Etienne involves these steps:
- Leave Calais on the A26/E15
- Merge onto the A4/E17 outside Reims, towards Lyon
- Take the A26/E17 exit, towards Lyon and Reims-Sud
- Merge onto the A5/E17 towards Lyon
- This will become the A31/E21
- Continue onto the A6/E2
- Kept left to remain on the A6 and then continue onto the A7
- Take the A47/E70 exit and stay on the E70/N88 around St Chamond
- As you approach St Etienne, merge right onto the N488/E70
How to get to Stade Geoffroy Guichard
To get to the stadium once you’re in St Etienne, exit the N488 at Junction 13 and turn left. Take a left at the crossroads onto Rue Molina and then take a left at the first roundabout onto Rue de la Tour. The stadium will be on your right.
For detailed directions, use our journey planner.
What you need to know before driving to St Etienne
French and UK traffic laws deviate in several important respects. Even if you have driven in France before, be aware that traffic laws in the country change often.
For example, since 2012 French law has prohibited the use of Sat Navs that warn drivers about the proximity of speed cameras. Visiting drivers are therefore strongly advised to disable the speed camera facility on their model before they start their journey.
Make sure you are fully aware of the rules and regulations by reading our guide to driving in France before you set off to watch the football.
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