Stade Pierre Mauroy – Lille OSC
Photos by Chris Tuck, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
261, Boulevard de Tournai, CS 70678
59656 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France
Year Opened: 2012 Capacity: 50,000
A Visit to Les Dogues
Planning permission for this futuristic-looking stadium was gained in December 2009, with construction beginning in March 2010. A total of 51,100 seats were installed in April 2012 and the stadium was completed three months later. Initially known as Grand Stade Lille Métropole, the stadium changed its name in 2013. The new name was to honour Pierre Mauroy, a French cabinet minister and local politician who died earlier that year.
Lille OSC was founded back in 1944 as a merger between Sporting Club Fivois and Olympique Lillois. They’ve played at various stadiums over the years including Stade Henri-Jooris and Stade Grimonprez-Jooris. During that time Lille won the top French league (Ligue 1) on three occasions, the most recent in 2010/11 with a certain Eden Hazard pulling the strings. ‘Les Dogues,’ as they are known, have also won the Coupe de France on six occasions and the UEFA Intertoto Cup once (2004).
The stadium was used for six games during Euro 96 and has hosted concerts by Celine Dion, Rihanna, and Depeche Mode amongst others. It can also be adapted into five different configurations to host rugby, basketball, handball, and even Davis Cup tennis.
Food & Beverage 4
Outside the stadium, restaurants and kiosks provide good nourishment options. The Stade Mauroy is an ‘out of town stadium,’ but the norm seems to be to head to the ground and soak up the surprisingly chilled atmosphere. An English-style pub called The Factory, a wine bar, Japanese cuisine, and pizza are all found in an area called the terraces opposite the main club shop.
Additional food outlets include a quick burger restaurant, a panini café, and a Subway. You can eat from a stall serving sausage & chips, beer, and soft drinks and sit outside, catching the last of the day’s sunshine.
Inside, there are the usual catering outlets ready to take your money.
Each seems to serve something different. The queues move very slowly, so you’ll have to be patient or very hungry to eat at the stadium. Prices for a Parisienne or rosette baguette and a soda is 7 Euros.
Architect firm Valode & Pistre, together with Pierre Ferret, were involved in the designs for this striking modern stadium, and they did a fine job. The roof is retractable (in just 30 minutes). The pitch is sunk one tier below ground level and so from the outside the stadium does not look particularly imposing. Incredibly, the playing surface is built on massive tracks that hydraulically lift the pitch, making a more intimate capacity of 30k, all in the top stand.
There is a huge screen built into the outside of the stadium which has a covering of around 12,000 polycarbonate tubes and 70,000 LED lights. Solar panels on the roof help to make the stadium self-sufficient.
Inside the stadium, there are three tiers, with numerous hospitality boxes situated at the back of the second tier. The noise is generated from the ultras behind both goals, starting with a rousing rendition of the club anthem to the tune of ‘Amazing Grace.’
The view from the corner of the third tier is good. The lower tier has quite a meagre incline, but in the top tier, the steep steps ensure that you feel part of the action.
During our visit, we had the choice to eat in the centre of Lille, outside the stadium, or inside the stadium. We chose all three!
In Lille, there is a fantastic rooftop restaurant called ‘Le Garden’ situated in the historic centre, Vieux-Lille, On a sunny day, you’ll find a relaxed atmosphere, helpful service, and excellent cuisine. Hotels, restaurants, and large car parks are all available on the footprint of the stadium meaning if time is tight, you can avoid the city completely.
The recommendation however is to make time. Lille is the tenth-largest city in France and fourth largest metropolitan area. In 2004 it was named the European Capital of Culture and is often known as the ‘Capital des Flandres.’ Visit the excellent tourism website before you set off. Here you can find details for the 24 and 48-hour City Tourism Pass, which provides unlimited access to 28 attractions across Lille and admission to the local metro, tram, and bus.
Be sure to spend some time in Vieux Lille (old Lille), the medieval city centre. It is the cultural heart of the city with cafes, restaurants, museums, old cobbled streets, and some great architecture. Make sure you tick off Lille’s UNESCO world heritage site – the 104-meter-high Bell Tower attached to the Hotel de Ville. It provides excellent views over the city and is one of 23 belfries in the north of France (and one in Belgium) recognised by UNESCO.
The city has numerous museums and art galleries. The Palais des Beaux-Arts Museum is a beautiful-looking building and second only to the Louvre in Paris. Pop in to catch a glimpse of a Rubens or a Rembrandt.
Lille was traditionally a textile city and if you or the partner want to shop, head to the ‘Grand Place’ area of the city and you will find thousands of shops wanting to help you part with your Euros. If you prefer markets, the Wazemmes is the one to head for.
For accommodations, the Mercure Lille Centre Grand Place is in a good location and has some good reviews. If you want to stay out near the ground, then the Tulip Inn or the Park Lane are within a stone’s throw. Still near the stadium, but a bit cheaper, is the Hotel Premiere Classe.
In April 2018 it was reported that Lille players were forced to leave the field after being attacked by their fans following a 1-1 draw with Montpellier. Security failed as hundreds of fans invaded the pitch after the full-time whistle to confront the home team.
Lille Ultras groups met with owner Gerard Lopez, who purchased the club in 2017, to agree on a way forward together; the subsequent pitch invasion suggests not all is well between fan and club. One factor is the heightened expectation after the 2011 title win and another is five managers in four years. Their main rain rivals are Lens – two big northern clubs, perhaps divided by class Lille (middle) and Lens (working). Geographically they are just a 30-minute drive apart.
Average attendance peaked in the first season at the new stadium at an average of 40k. The following two seasons it fell to 38k then 36k. The highest attendance during that time was 48,960 in 2014 v PSG. From 2016-2018 the average attendance has hovered around 30, 000.
The stadium is approximately 6 km outside of Lille town centre in an area called Villeneuve d’ Ascq.
If you are flying, then you need to travel to Belgium not France. Head for Brussels South Charleroi Airport, and then it’s just over 100 km west over the border by car. Whilst here though you should also head 50 km north on arrival at the airport and visit the site of the Battle of Waterloo.
When travelling from the UK you may take the excellent Euro Tunnel which whisks you under the channel in just over 30 mins. From there it’s just over 100 km to Lille. Eurostar of course also calls at Lille and takes just 90 minutes. Keep a look out for cheap return tickets from London St Pancras which come up from time to time.
Once in Lille, use the local transport system. The #18 bus towards Versailles will get you close. On the (driverless) metro, head for Cite Scientifique for the stadium or Les Pres for a shuttle bus service that will take you straight to the ground. Alternatively, you could get a taxi for around 20 Euros.
If you need to park near the ground, then be careful. The car parks can end up quite full and some of the parking isn’t necessarily legal. This can lead to long and frustrating delays as you try to leave. The Stade Pierre Mauroy website suggests booking your parking in advance and describes the various parking options provided. You may also be able to find a side street easily enough and exit the area in good time.
Tickets are simple enough to get ahold of. The surplus of tickets is generally available means you can buy them on the day from the ticket office or the club shop in the town centre.
Buying in advance, prices range from 15-65 Euros and are available through the club website. Buying via the Lille website is straight forward and e-tickets will be in your email inbox within a minute after purchasing.
Return on Investment 4
Take advantage of special ticket deals, which provide an excellent return on investment. The match day programme (Reservoir Dogues) and club newspaper (LOSC in the City) are also both free. Prices for food and beers are expensive in the centre of Lille as you’d expect, but overall the trip can be done relatively cheaply.
Guided tours are available for individuals, lasting approximately one hour. Book ahead via the Villeneuve d’ Ascq tourism office. For a group tour, download the booking form on the Pierre Mauroy stadium website.
A club toaster is a highlight when looking for eclectic gifts in the club shop. The shop is well stocked but the queue seems to take an age.
In its 6th year, the stadium is beginning to look a little worn on the outside, but overall it’s an impressive modern arena to watch a game. With the 2024 Olympic Games set to use the Pierre Mauroy as part of its football competition, it could be argued its best days lie ahead.
Eden Hazard, a former player still very much in love with his old club, tweeted his support during the recent turbulent occurrences. Another iconic Lille son, Charles De Gaulle, the famous French general, would have been proud of the fight shown by the Lille side who ensured this first-rate stadium remained a Ligue 1 ground for one more year at least.