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Official Review by Philippe Gaubin, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In France, Rugby has been a professional sport for 20 years. It is becoming more and more popular in the country and the number of spectators continues to increase. Compared to other team sports, it ranks second after soccer.
In Paris and the surrounding metropolitan area there are two teams competing in the elite league called “TOP 14.” Clubs play a 26 game schedule with playoff berths for the best six teams.
The season starts in mid August and lasts until early June. Similar to soccer, there are lots of international games for national teams which are inserted in the calendar.
Le Stade Français Paris rugby club plays at le Stade Jean Bouin. The venue is named for Jean Bouin, who was a famous athlete (cross-country runner and 5,000 meter silver medalist in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden) who died during World War I.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is no tradition of eating inside most stadiums in France, and that is true here as well. There is no pizza, hot dogs, donuts, pretzels, hamburgers, etc. You can find some chips, or grocery items and that's all.
The same is true for alcohol. Draught beer is served in an eco-cup (recycling cups). Water and soft drinks are also available inside. The prices are not too expensive, but you will most likely want to save your appetite for before or after the match.
Le Stade Jean Bouin was build in Paris in 1925, renovated for the first time in 1970 and also significantly from 2010-2013. Now it is essentially a completely new stadium built by well known architect Rudy Ricciotti.
The financial aspect (160€ million in public funds) created a large polemic debate at the city hall of Paris. It was more expensive than expected.
The architect has built a 'green' (ecological) stadium with a special concrete and a design where light can enter to the stadium without greatly obscuring the views for neighbors. Solar panels have been inserted in the roof to furnish electricity inside the park. Rainwater is collected and destined to irrigate the turf. This stadium is dedicated to rugby only, and it really has become a marvelous structure.
The capacity is 20,000 at le Stade Jean Bouin. All of the seats are under the roof, and there are also 51 club boxes, and 1,300 business seats for sponsors.
The view is perfect from all seats, and close to the field. You can feel the atmosphere and sometimes players instructions, words or even body impacts can be easily heard from your seat.
Two big screens are present on opposite corners, allowing everyone to follow the game or replays. It's a very funny moment when the Notre Dame cathedral bells announce the end of the mid time and end of the game.
This beautiful stadium is implanted in southwest of Paris in the 16th arrondissement. It's one of the most affluent districts, and a relatively quiet part of town.
Across the street is Parc des Princes which is dedicated only to soccer, and is home of Paris Saint-Germain football club. Outside you can find many large restaurants or pubs to share a drink with your friends just before or after the game.
'Ici c'est Paris' (here it's Paris) is the chant of the fans at Stade Jean Bouin. It's a sort of chant of supremacy from the Parisian fans to demonstrate that we are in the French capital and not elsewhere. Very cocky, and very Parisian.
When the Stade Français pro rugby team first came into existence (1995) the jersey colors where blue and red, or white and red/blue (away). With the evolution of marketing and to be apart from the classical designs, during the 2005/06 season players wore pink jerseys for the first time. This color was at the antithesis of rugby, which is known as a tough sport. Big and strong guys wearing pink was not very common at the time.
But it was a huge commercial success.
Since that time blue, pink, and white have become the official colors of the club.
The crossbars at the opposite side on the field are pink also. Many of the male fans now wear pink clothes, or items during games. At every game, pink giveaways like flags are given to some young fans.
Located in Paris, you can access the stadium very easily by public transports (metro line 9 and 10), bus, motorcycles, scooters, or cars.
Parking your car is the biggest problem because just 500 spaces are located under the stadium. A private parking area is just 800 meters away, and it is difficult to find a parking spot for your car in the adjacent streets. Combined with the rush traffic on game night, and it could take a lot of time to arrive to the stadium.
Arrive early if you want to be sure not to miss the start of the match, and consider the metro as your best option.
There are two mains entrances (east and west), with easy gates to access to your section.
On the large concourse you can find bathrooms easily. They are simple, but clean. Elevators are available to help fans get to the upper levels. Seats are comfortable.
Nothing is free except the pink flags that are given to some spectators. They are distributed every 8 to 10 seats before opening to the public. But no towels or free shirt.
Prices ranges for ticket is between 13 €-120 €.
There is no tailgating outside the stadium, but some activities are developing near the east entrance for kids (face painting, t-shirt paintings with clubs logo ,etc). You may also see orchestras, stands with food and beers, games with rugby balls for kids, targets on an electronic panels with rugby passes, and much more. Sponsors are not far away, and it is a good item to come to the stadium early to take part in the activities, especially if you have children with you.
Ici c'est Paris, is certainly an apt phrase. This is a beautiful stadium in a wonderful part of the City of Lights.
The unique pink jerseys have become an important part of the identity of this team.
One store is implanted inside the stadium with lot of jerseys, hoodies, shirts and other goodies. One big truck with all merchandise products is also parked outside the east stadium entrance.
One final extra point for the stadium's namesake. Jean Bouin was one of the best middle distance runners of his time, and the beauty of this stadium does well to honor his memory.
Rugby is spectacular to see in person. This stadium is a recommended destination for two main reason. The architecture, perfect design, and accommodations inside Stade Jean Bouin, and also the intimate atmosphere to witness the special character of the game of Rugby.
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