Football fever is well and truly in the air – Euro 2016 kicks off in Paris tomorrow when France take on Romania, with Ireland’s first outing against Sweden taking place at the Stade de France next Monday.
Whether you have got your tickets and accommodation sorted or you’re hoping to stumble across some tickets and a bed late in the day, we’ve got some handy tips for before and while you travel.
Avoid the ticket touts
If you’re still hoping to get your hands on a ticket for any of the matches, we’re sorry to tell you that UEFA’s official ticket reselling site has closed – unless you’re buying from trust friends or family members, the only other option is tickets touts. Avoid these – they usually charge a large mark-up, or you could be turned away at the gate if your photo ID doesn’t match the name on the ticket, or if it’s fake.
Spread your wings
If you are booking accommodation now, spread your net further afield. The cheapest hotels in Bordeaux for the night of Ireland’s game against Belgium cost around €150. If you stay in nearby Saint-Médard-en-Jalles (a 20-minute drive to Stade de Bordeaux) the price drops to around €80 and rising. Use Skyscanner.ie to search for cheaper rooms (or flights and rental cars). If you really want to stay in the city, the increasingly popular Airbnb service could get you anything from a futon for €19 to a private room for €25 or more in Bordeaux.
If you are planning taking in the sights while on your travels, your first port of call should be the local tourist office. There you’ll find handy local maps and some insider tips on the best places to eat and see. They can also advise you on public transportation during your stay – buses or trams are the best way to get around during the tournament, though if you do have to take a taxi, make sure they are from a reputable and recognisable company, and agree a price before the journey begins.
Eat like a local
Restaurants in busy tourist areas tend to be a lot more expensive than your average local eateries, particularly in or around the stadiums. Whichever city you’re going to, do some research beforehand on decent restaurants that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Or you could just load up in your nearest hypermarché and eat like the locals! Tripadvisor.ie is a good place to start, while the forums on Ybig.ie are another great resource for some advice from seasoned supporters.
The European Health Insurance Card is a must when travelling abroad, giving you access to public healthcare through the EU and the European Economic Area. There’s no charge for the card, and it should take up to ten working days to arrive. If you are travelling soon, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate which is issued by your local health office.