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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Parc des Princes stadium in Paris holds a lot of history, and it isn’t all about football. The stadium is named after the Monarch's hunting grounds that it’s built upon, and it was initially opened as a multi-purpose venue on the 18th of July 1897. It hosted the final stages of Tour de France for decades since 1902 and there have been many other athletic events. The national football team started their official games at the Parc des Princes in 1905.
After rebuilding the ground in 1932 it was also used as a velodrome, but the current venue’s history began in 1967 when General Charles de Gaulle decided that Parc des Princes only should be used for football and rugby matches. Architect Roger Taillibert got the task to create a unique stadium for both disciplines.
The current Parc des Princes was inaugurated on the 4th of June 1972 and became one of the world’s most unique venues and was way ahead of its time. Underneath its concrete shell it holds a doubled-tier stand which runs all around the ground. The stadium has a seating capacity of 48,712 spectators and has been the home of French football club Paris Saint-Germain since 1973.
Paris Saint-Germain are the main tenants of the stadium and one of the most popular football clubs in France. Together with Olympique Marseille they have the most fanatic supporters in the country. The various supporter groups, known as ‘Ultras’ are divided in different parts of the stadium.
In 1984 the stadium was host at the European Championship and also hosted the final between France and Spain (2-0). So the first major prize in French national team football history was won by ‘Les Blues’ at the Parc des Princes.
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Inside the stadium there are food and drink counters on ground level and on the walkway before entering the second tier. There is a lot of variety of sodas or coffee. At high risk matches no beer will be served. The choice of food is rather poor, you can buy French fries, hamburgers, premade sandwiches or just a Snickers or a Mars bar.
At half time there are vendors on the walkway selling only sodas to minimise big queues at the regular sales counters.
France is usually not reputed for the quality of its stadia, but the Parc des Princes is a good example of a vibrant atmosphere. The Parisian stadium has benefited from the presence of a concrete roof hanging partly over the second tier and therefore has great acoustics. The atmosphere in the Parc des Princes has often been described by away-fans as 'true hell', relating to the deafening noise that Paris Saint-Germain supporters are producing on matchdays and the pyrotechnics that are smuggled inside the ground.
The Parc des Princes stadium is located in the southwest of Paris on the fashionable edge of Bois the Boulogne and just half a mile south from the French Open tennis grounds of Rolland Garros. In this part of the city you can find big lanes and good looking apartments. It's definitely one of the better areas in Paris and it's safe to park your car here.
The fans of Paris Saint-Germain are very passionate and are known for making a very good atmosphere inside the ground. Every supporters group is housed in their own section of the ground. The most vibrant groups occupy both stands behind the goal, the Kop of Boulogne to the south and Virage Auteuil and Authentics to the north. Away fans are housed in some kind of cage in the northwest part of the stadium. This away-section holds a capacity of 2,000 spectators.
The biggest rivals of Paris Saint-German are Olympique Marseille. Matches between these two French giants are marred with crowd troubles most of the time. During these matches there are safety zones outside the stadium, large police forces separating the supporter groups and there are lots of tifo-actions (banners and pyrotechnics) in the stands.
The Parc des Princes is easily reachable by metro (subway). On match days it's also advised by the club to use this way of transportation. Just leave the metro at station 'Porte de Saint-Cloud', from there it's just a five minute walk to the ground.
In case you travel by car, the address of the stadium is: 24, rue de Commandant Guilbaud, 70156 Paris. If you are lucky you can park your car somewhere within half a mile radius from the stadium (street parking).
Football in Paris is expensive! For a regular home match of Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 you can buy tickets from €20-€100. It is very hard to get your hands on the cheapest tickets if you're not a member of the club. For top matches the price of the most expensive tickets will increase to €150.
It's not really difficult to buy your tickets for a home match of Paris Saint-Germain. Tickets for the matches at the Pac des Princes can be bought via the clubsite or via brokers at regular prices.
For the neutral spectator, visiting a match of Paris Saint-Germain is more than just visiting an ordinary football match. It's a great experience! Besides the action on the pitch, there is also plenty to enjoy from the stands.
When leaving the metro station 'Porte de Saint-Cloud' there is a McDonalds restaurant at the roundabout. There you can buy your drinks and food for less money than inside the stadium. The Parc des Princes stadium has been built above the Boulevard Périphérique, this is the main ring road through Paris. This is another feature which makes the stadium even more special.
When you are in for a city trip in Paris and you have seen the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, the Notre Dame cathedral and all the other great highlights of the French capital and there is still time left, please consider a trip to the Parc des Princes stadium and attend a match of Paris Saint-Germain. You will be moved by the great atmosphere inside the stadium, and it will surely make your city trip even more worthwhile!
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