Must-see sights

Louvre-Lens: Opened in 2012, this respected art museum receives items on loan from the famous Louvre in Paris, making it the equivalent of that bottom-half Premier League side where Chelsea send their best young prospects. We expect there'll be a painting of Patrick Bamford in the museum somewhere, although don't hold us to that. But what we do know is that it will house a special football exhibition during the Euros, documenting the history of local club RC Lens and the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.


The mighty slag heaps: We're not sure what it says about Lens that the second-most popular tourist attraction on TripAdvisor is a coal tip. True, Les Terrils Jumeaux du 11/19 are not just any slag heaps, they're the highest slag heaps in Europe. But still. Coal has been an important resource for the region for 150 years, and the coalfields are even a UNESCO world heritage site. Apparently the views are lovely from the top, presumably because you're looking at everything apart from the slag heap.

The Remembrance Trails: Lens is situated close to many First World War battlefields in the north of France, and two major remembrance sites are just 10 minutes south of the city: the Parc Commemoratif Canadien de Vimy, and the Necropole Nationale de Notre-Dame de Lorette. The latter is France's largest military cemetery, where around 40,000 soldiers were buried.

Cubana bar: This bar with a Latin flavour is regarded as one of the best in Lens and is situated only a block away from the train station.

Cubana bar

Eglise Saint-Leger: Disappointingly, this isn't a church set up by massive fans of Sean St Ledger who couldn't quite spell his name right. In fact, it was built by horse racing enthusiasts. Wait, what's that? It wasn't? Well OK, it's actually named after a 7th-century saint and can be found in the city centre.

3 fast facts about the city 

  1. The Stade Bollaert-Delelis has a greater capacity (38,223) than the entire population of Lens itself, although 550,000 do live in the metropolitan area.
  2. Lens was part of the Spanish Netherlands before being given back to France in 1659.
  3. Huge parts of the city were destroyed by fighting in the First World War and it was the victim of significant aerial bombardment during Second World War.

Lens with Darren Anderton and John Hartson, courtesy of Continental Tyres

It's England vs Wales here on June 16... and now you know the best places to go thanks to two of the respective nations' former favourites.

Local cuisine you have to try

Andouillettes are small sausages made from chitterlings, usually served with chips or mashed potatoes. Try Soupe à l'Ail too – a garlic soup.


Facts about the host stadium

Stade Bollaert-Delelis

  • Capacity: 38,223
  • Built: 1933 (renovated 2015)
  • Record attendance: 48,912 (Lens v Marseille, 1992)

How to get there: The stadium is situated close to the city centre, and is easily within walking distance. It should take only 15 minutes.

Stade Bollaert-Delelis

Don't be confused by the name – discerning fans of French football and those who remember David Beckham netting a free-kick against Colombia at the stadium at the 1998 World Cup might know that Lens' home ground used to be called the Stade Felix Bollaert. But now it's named after not just one person but two, after the death of politician Andre Delelis in 2012.