The Lensois are known for creating a great atmosphere at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, and despite being by far the smallest of the host city venues, Lens in the heart of industrial northern France in Nord pas de Calais Picardie has a great football heritage, and will be welcoming fans for another major tournament, having hosted half a dozen games of the World Cup in France 98.
In the heart of World War One and Two battlefield country, the area is rich with history. The city itself, with its location close to the border with Belgium, has changed hands between the French, Belgians and Dutch over its long existence - a settlement on the site dates back to Norman times. But it didn’t experience its biggest growth until the discovery of coal nearby in the mid-1800s.
Its climate shares more in common with the British summer than some of the sunnier southern host cities, so it won’t be surprising to learn that it’s beer rather than wine that the Nord pas de Calais region is more famous for, so you’re equally likely to stumble across a cave à bières than a wine bar.
Department - Pas de Calais
Population - 32,500
Average June temperature - 15.7 C
All fixtures local time (BST +1 hour).
Saturday 11 June, 15.00: Albania v Switzerland – Group A
Thursday 16 June, 15.00: England v Wales – Group B
Tuesday 21 June, 21.00: Czech Republic v Turkey – Group D
Round of 16
Saturday 25 June, 21.00: Winner D v Third-place B/E/F – Match 3
Flying direct to Lens is not an option, as the city does not have its own airport. But for those looking for an aerial route, Lille Lesquin airport is only 30km away, and Paris around 200km. It is well connected to both by road and rail, which means that getting there isn’t as tough as it may first appear.
Lens is around 100km from the north French coast, which means that those fans looking to get to the city a ferry to either Calais or Dunkerque could be an option. The A26 motorway runs direct from Calais, while Dunkerque is within easy reach down the A25, via Lille. There are also local train services that run direct from Dunkerque to Lens.
Dover to Calais ferry services are operated by DFDS Seaways, who run 15 sailings daily and P&O Ferries, who operate 21.
The crossing time is only around 90 minutes, and there are foot-passenger spaces alongside the usual car/caravan options for those who are not driving.
The Eurotunnel (Le Shuttle) runs cars from Folkestone to Coquelles on the outskirts of Calais, with nearly 50 crossings a day and a shorter journey time of just 35 minutes, making it an equally viable option.
See www.eurotunnel.com for schedule and price information.
DFDS also run 9 sailings a day from Dover to Dunkerque, which take around 2 hours.
Lens is served by TGV trains from Paris’ Gare du Nord (around 6 daily), with a journey time of just over an hour. There are also connections to Lille and local cities like Arras, Valenciennes and Dunkerque.