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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

UPDATE: What Liverpool fans coming to Paris for the Champions League final need to know

Paris will stage the final of the Uefa Champions League on Saturday May 28th. For any fans coming to the city there are a few things you should know including about travel, planned strikes and the fanzone.

UPDATE: What Liverpool fans coming to Paris for the Champions League final need to know
An aerial picture taken aboard an helicopter on July 20, 2010 shows a view of the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. AFP PHOTO BORIS HORVAT (Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP)

Where is the Stade de France?

The Stade de France is in the northern Paris suburbs, just a few Metro or train stops from the northern edge of Paris. Strictly speaking and as the locals in Saint-Denis will tell you, the national stadium is not actually not located in Paris.

It’s in the town of Saint-Denis, that forms part of the petite couronne – the ring of inner suburbs that surround the French capital.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Saint-Denis

Anyone arriving into Paris down the A1 motorway or indeed by Eurostar or the RER B rail connection from the airport will see the stadium on their approach to the city.

Getting to central Paris from the airport

Those fans arriving by plane will likely fly into Charles de Gaulle airport to the north of Paris. The best way into town is with the RER B overland train that passes through Gare du Nord and the central of the city. Follow signs for “Paris by Train / RER B” to the platforms and ticket area. It could be a fair walk depending on which terminal you arrive at.

It also serves Orly airport so anyone arriving into Paris’ other airport can also get the RER into town via the Orlyval shuttle train.

If you are taking a taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport into town make sure it’s an official one which are subject to flat rates. Follow the signs for the official taxi ranks and avoid drivers offering taxis to in other parts of the airport. 

The fixed rates are either €53 or 58 depending on which part of central Paris you are going to as the map from Parisaeroport.fr shows.

UPDATE: There are planned works on the RER B line on Thursday May 26th and Sunday May 29th which means there will be no trains running between Gare du Nord and the airport. A bus replacement service will be set up. CLICK HERE for more details.

There is more info on taxis here.

What’s the best way of getting to the Stade de France from the city centre?

Probably the easiest way to get to the ground is by taking an RER train or by Metro.

For the RER, which is basically a suburban rail service that extends to the outer suburbs of Paris, you can take either RER B or RER D from level 3 in Gare du Nord – where the airport train and Eurostar trains arrive – (With RER B its Direction Mitry-Claye or Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, and with RER D it’s Direction Creil)

RER B and D also head to the stadium from from Châtelet les Halles – a big transport hub in the city centre, not far from Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine.

UPDATE: Paris transport unions have called a strike on Saturday May 28th which could impact the RER B. Click here for more information.

On RER B you need to get off at La Plaine Stade de France and on RER D the stop is Stade de France St-Denis.

You can also get to the stadium by taking Line 13 of the Metro, which passes through Saint Lazare station and Place de Clichy (where a lot of fans will no doubt congregate around. the many pubs in the area – for more on where to get a pint, see below).

If you’re on line 13 the stop is Saint-Denis Porte de Paris.

Will I be able to get a beer inside the Stade de France?

Yes, the stadium gates will open at 6pm as will the bars inside the stadium. However outside the stadium drinking and buying alcohol will only be allowed up until 6pm. Paris police are encouraging those with tickets to get into the ground in good time.

Buying transport tickets

This can get a bit complicated because the Stade de France is in zone 2 so an ordinary Metro ticket won’t work.

The best option would probably be to buy a Navigo 1 day pass for zones 1 and 2, which you can do in Metro stations or by downloading the “Bonjour RATP” phone app and following the instructions.

You can also just buy a return ticket to the Stade de France at Metro stations although it’s a little more complicated to use the automatic machines.

Note of warning. It’s probably best to get your transport tickets well in advance. Queues can be horrendous and last time Liverpool played in Paris, the transport police were out in force making sure all fans had the right to travel. It caused chaos at the Metro station near Parc des Princes.

Can I walk to the ground from central Paris?

Yes, in theory, but it’s probably not a wise option.

It’s much easier to get public transport to the ground. While the stadium is not that far from the edge of Paris it’s not a great walk – not least due to all the rail tracks and motorways that snake around the area.

One possible route if you really want to walk is via the canals. It takes a bit longer but the first part of the walk along the Bassin de La Villette and the Canal de L’Ourq is at least lined with plenty of bars. The second part along the Canal de Saint-Denis is less picturesque. It passes through a fairly run down industrial area but there is at least a well used cycle path to follow.

But public transport is by far the better option.

Security at the stadium

Anyone heading to the ground should expect tight security and several ticket and security checks on their approach to the stadium. Authorities have said they will widen the security cordon and the stadium compared to a normal football match with initial checks and searches to take place around 1km from the ground.

Stade de France as targeted in the 2015 terror attacks and since then security checks have been considerable so needless to say fans are advised to get to ground with plenty of time to spare.

It seems that bars in the vicinity of the stadium will be open but will only be allowed to serve alcohol until 6pm.

Will there be a fanzone for Liverpool fans?

Yes there will be. It will be at the Cour de Vincennes – a wide avenue in the east of the city near Nation Metro.

It will apparently cater to around 40,000 fans – around the number of ticketless supporters expected in the city for the match.

It will be open from 2pm until the “end of the match” according to Paris authorities.

There will be two giant screens, but it’s not been confirmed yet whether the match will actually be shown live. An announcement is expected later in the week but it appears likely the game will be shown. We’ll confirm as soon as the police do.

Live music from Boss Night has been confirmed.

For more information on the fanzone, how to get there and then how to get to the stadium from the fanzone CLICK HERE.

There will also be a fan zone for Madrid fans nearer the stadium at the Parc de la Legion d’Honneur in Saint-Denis. 

Where will Liverpool fans congregate?

Paris is not short of pubs, bars and cafes and squares, so it’s likely fans will congregate all over the city.

There are scores of British/Irish/Scottish/North American themed or genuine pubs all over the city. Certain parts of town like Grands Boulevards, Place de Clichy, St Michel and Rue St Denis around Châtelet have several big pubs grouped together which will likely be focal points.  

There is the Kop Bar in the 18th and the Lush bar in the 17th which are known venues for Liverpool fans but they will likely be packed. Ticketless fans shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding somewhere that will show the game however. The smaller more local bars might be a good shout if the pubs are overflowing. The game is being shown on terrestrial TV in France (TF1) so any bar with a TV should be able to show it.

There is a list of pubs doing the rounds online including venues such as the Bombardier, Belushis, the Harp and the Coq and Bulldog but there are many more across the city.

There are lots of bars opposite Gare du Nord station but pints can be expensive and not many have TV screens.

Pubs like Corcorans on Grands Boulevards (Boulevard Poissonniere / Boulevard Montmartre) have plenty of screens. Also search for O’Sullivans and Cafe Oz which are big pubs around the city with lots of screens.

And a good spot is also Patrick’s – Le Ballon Vert Irish pub at Metro Faidherbe-Chaligny (line 8) There are lots of TV screens.

Will there be any special events?

UEFA have organised two official trophy experience locations in the build-up to the final, one in central Paris and the other in Saint-Denis.

From Thursday, May 26th until two hours before kickoff on Saturday, May 28th, fans can experience the walk-through zones free of charge.

“The activities are free and open to everyone so come enjoy the electric atmosphere, meet fellow fans, and get in the festive spirit,” says Uefa.

Entry: No ticket needed; entry is completely free!

The Two locations are:

  • Paris, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
  • Saint-Denis, Place Victor Hugo

Are there any Covid rules I need to be aware of?

France has dropped all travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers from UK, although unvaccinated travellers still need to provide a negative test prior to travel.

Face masks are no longer obligatory in shops or on public transport although they are recommended.

Can I drive into Paris?

Beware you’ll need a Crit’air sticker on your car or risk paying a fine. The stickers are an anti-pollution measure and even foreign cars should have them. You can get more information here.

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POLICE

Paris police chief accepts Champions League final ‘failure’ as CCTV images deleted

The head of Paris police acknowledged on Thursday a "failure" around Champions League final and admitted his claim of up to 40,000 Liverpool fans without valid tickets may have been a mistake. It also emerged CCTV images from the stadium were automatically deleted.

Paris police chief accepts Champions League final 'failure' as CCTV images deleted

“It is obviously a failure,” Didier Lallement told a commission investigating the fiasco at the French Senate. “It was a failure because people were pushed around and attacked. It’s a failure because the image of the country was tarnished.”

Lallement and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin have been under severe pressure since the May 28 match after they initially blamed the chaos on as many as 40,000 Liverpool fans who massed at the stadium without tickets or with counterfeit tickets.

‘Perhaps I made a mistake with the figure’

That figure has been widely disputed since by witnesses and media using images from the ground, leading Lallement to face repeated questions from senators who grew frustrated at his responses.

“Perhaps I made a mistake with the figure I gave to the minister,” he said, saying he had based his estimate on the numbers of people using public transport and from feedback from officers on site. “I never claimed that it was absolutely accurate,” adding that “the figure was not based on scientific evidence”.

He admitted there were not 30,000 to 40,000 “at the gates of the stadium” but maintained that several thousands were “in the vicinity” of police checkpoints at the Stade de France to the north of the capital.

Many Liverpool supporters struggled to enter the stadium, leading to kick-off being delayed by more than half an hour and crushes at the entry gates, where police fired tear gas.

Fans also complained about bottlenecks leading to the stadium created by police deployments, but Lallement said the checkpoints were anti-terror measures “for a risk that is still real”.

The government’s initial decision to blame Liverpool fans for the problems caused tensions between France and Britain, while raising questions about the capacity of Paris to host the Rugby World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2024.

‘300 to 400 delinquents’

Lallement said he regretted having to authorise the use of tear gas to move supporters away from the stadium before the game, which affected mostly Liverpool fans including children and disabled people.

“I’m totally sorry on behalf of the police department, but there was unfortunately no other way,” he told senators, adding that the only other option was a baton-charge, which he ruled out as too dangerous.

“I would do the same thing again,” he said, saying that he believed his decisions had saved lives.

Asked about street crime outside the stadium, which many fans described as terrifying, Lallement estimated that there were 300 to 400 “delinquents” who robbed or physically assaulted people as they left the game, which Real Madrid won 1-0.

Deleted CCTV footage

Executives from the French Football Federation, which was responsible for organising the game, expressed their regrets for chaos they blamed on a strike on one of the train lines to the stadium, fake tickets and local gangs.

Speaking to senators, director general Florence Hardouin said 2,471 fake tickets had been detected at turnstiles — much higher than the average of around 300 for similar events in the past.

The federation also revealed that Stade de France CCTV footage from the ground had been automatically deleted — in line with French law that stipulates it must be destroyed within seven days unless it is subject to a warrant from judicial authorities.

The FFF’s Erwan Le Prevost told shocked senators that he had been watching the CCTV cameras all day at his post and described the images as “extremely violent”.

“We’re surprised,” the Senate commission’s co-president, Laurent Lafon, told AFP, adding that an investigation was opened the day after the game (to investigate the presence of fake tickets).

“There was plenty of time to request them (the images). We need to understand what happened.”

He said the debacle at the stadium appeared to be “an accumulation of dysfunctions” linked to a “lack of preparation.”

Senator François-Noël Buffet described the missing CCTV images as “a serious problem” and promised to investigate the reasons why no authority had demanded the CCTV images within 7 days.

Paris police then tweeted out a clarification insisting they still had images in their possession that were available to any judicial investigation and people “shouldn’t get confused between images from the police and those of a private operator.”

Liverpool fans were ‘scapegoats’

Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region who was at the game, also testified to the Senate on Thursday, calling the issue of fake tickets a “red herring”.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” he told AFP before the hearing.

He was a victim of pickpockets before the game, losing his phone, ticket and cards as he made his way to the stadium.

He accused France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin of trying to “cheat the French public but also world’s media” by presenting a false version of events at the stadium.

France offered to host the game after it was stripped from Saint Petersburg in Russia in February by the European football body UEFA, following Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

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