Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday, bringing a month of football to France and a whole host of visitors to boot. The tournament, which runs from 10th June until 10th July, will host 51 matches between 25 teams, not to mention more than 1.5 million foreign tourists, who will descend upon various French cities to cheer on their national squads.
Making the trip this summer to enjoy the beautiful game? Here are our top travel tips:
1Drive on the right side of the road
It’s important to drive on the right side of the road in France – literally. For Brits making the voyage across the Channel, the left lane is the wrong side of the road to be on. The speed limit on motorways is 130kph, but don’t rush: take time to get used to the set-up, if you’re not used to it. Also be sure to bring enough money for the tolls, which can cost quite a few euros (expect €40 for a road trip from Paris to Bordeaux).
2Make a copy of your passport
You are obliged under current French law to carry photo ID on you and a passport is your best bet, as you can keep an eye on it throughout your stay. Before you leave, though, make sure you have a copy. Scan it and email it to a family member or friend, so that if you need to get replacement documents, you have the necessary details to hand – after all, that photocopy will be useful for many years to come!
3Pack safely, arrive early
It might go without saying, but do not forget to pack your bags sensibly, with no dangerous items, such as penknives or alcohol. This applies to the football matches, as well as the airport: expect similar levels of security to ensure everyone’s safety, and a similar amount of time to get through the checks and out the other side.
Drinking too much may cause you to be banned from entering a stadium, so behave responsibly to avoid any problems.
5Sort your accommodation now
If you were hoping to hop casually into a hotel once you’re on French soil, remember that millions of other people will be in the country and attending the same events: it would be best to book somewhere to stay in advance, whether that’s a hostel, bed and breakfast or a room on Airbnb. According to travel money specialists, No.1 Currency, local hotels have already raised their prices by up to 165 per cent, while in Marseille, 94 per cent of all hotel rooms are already booked.
6Only use official tickets
Get your tickets from a credible source. Selling tickets outside the stadiums is illegal in France. Not got seats yet? You can still find tickets for some matches – check availability on UEFA’s website here.
7Check your EHIC Card
Previously known as the E111 Card, the European Health Insurance Card is a handy little thing that will give you access to the public health care system of the member state you are visiting. Check that you have your EHIC Card with and that it hasn’t expired. If you don’t have one, get one.
8Stock up on fuel
Fuel shortages have been a problem in France in recent months, with some British tourists reportedly stranded in their cars during half-term. Take precuation to account for the shortgages, if you’re driving, by filling your tank as frequently as possible. For long trips, consider filling up a portable can too. There is a handy live tracker of which petrol stations have run out of fuel here.
9Stay up-to-date and alert
Travel advice may change during the course of the tournament, depending on events and announcements. British tourists can sign up to travel advice alerts at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france, or follow the Foreign Office on Twitter at @FCOtravel. If in doubt, follow the advice of local French authorities and be vigilant at all times, particularly during busy areas, such as stadiums, fan zones and transport hubs.
Remember: In an emergency, do not dial 911 or 999. Dial 112. For consular assistance, for example if you lose your passport, the number is +33(0)1 44 51 31 00.
11Speak the lingo
Finally, some handy French phrases for those visiting during Euro 2016:
Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)
Je suis perdu. Pouvez-vous m’aider? (I am lost. Can you help me?)
Où sont les toilettes? (Where is the toilet?)
Puis-je avoir une bière? (May I have a beer?)
Quel but! What a goal!
Vous ne la ramenez plus maintenant! You’re not singing anymore!
Trois lions sur le maillot… Three lions on a shirt…