SAINT ETIENNE - STADE GEOFFRY GUICHARD - CAPACITY: 35, 616 ALL SEATER
About the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard The Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is used primarily for football matches, and tournaments such as the 1984 European Football Championship, the Football World Cup 1998 and the Confederations Cup 2003. It is also used for rugby union, and was a venue at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. It is nicknamed "le Chaudron" (the Cauldron), or "l'enfer vert" (the Green Hell), an allusion to the colours worn by the local football team, the AS Saint-Étienne, given during the team's heyday of the 1960s and 1970s when spectators were very as high as 47,000 on average.
The stadium opened on September 13, 1931, and AS Saint-Étienne's first match there took place on September 17 against FAC Nice. The stadium was named after Geoffroy Guichard, founder of the Casino retail group, who purchased the site on which it was built. Views are excellent from every stand – although it is worth avoiding the first few rows where the view is obscured by the perimeter fencing and access route along the front of the stands.
Who plays there? Association Sportive de Saint-Etienne Loire, or ASSE for short are one of the most famous names in French football. They were formed in 1919 as a works team for a local supermarket chain, taking their unique green coloured shirts from the colours of the supermarket brand. In 1928 the club were took over by Pierre Guichard, the son of the supermarket chain. They were promoted into the top division in 1937 for the first time, although they would have to wait nearly 20 years before they claimed their first title in 1958, and actually played in the European Cup the following season, losing to Glasgow Rangers.
The golden period for the club started in the mid 1960’s when the club won four consecutive French Championships as well as three French Cups. In the 1970’s the club won the domestic double in 1974 and 1976, inspired by the midfield play of Michel Platini. In 1976 they also reached the final of the European Cup, losing to a dominant Bayern Munich. Their last major honour came in 1981 when they won the French championship. Less than 2 years later the club had been relegated in financial crisis, and it took them nearly 20 years before they returned to the top flight in 1999.
All seemed to be going well until March 2001 when it was found that the Brazilian Alex had been playing on a fake passport, and the club were deducted 7 points which led to their relegation. It took them two years to return to Ligue 1, winning the second division title at a canter in 2004. A 6th place finish the following season saw European football return to the club with a place in the Intertoto Cup.
How to get there The stadium is located in the north of the city and is easily reached by bus numbers 9, 41, 27 and 51. You can also walk to the stadium from Chateaucreux station. Simply exit the stadium and follow the road to the right and you will eventually see the stadium on your right after 15 minutes. The new Tram line also runs to a stop just to the west of the stadium, aptly named Geoffrey Guichard. The line runs via Gare Carnot and Hotel de Ville.
For a better overview of football in France, go to Footiemap.com to view their excellent and comprehensive graphical overview of French football.
Getting a ticket Tickets go on sale two weeks before a game from the club shop at the stadium, as well as via the club’s website http://www.asse.fr. Tickets range in price from €10 for a seat in the steep Henri Point stand to over €30 for a place in the Pierre Faurand.
Getting around The main public transport option in the city is now the tramway which was redeveloped in the late 1990’s. The system is now made up of two lines, one which runs north to south through the city, and another which branches off to the east to serve the main station at Chateaucreux. There are also buses that run to the outlying area but the tram line should take you to everywhere you need to go.
Saint Etienne’s small airport is located 8 miles from the city centre and is currently serviced by a single daily flight to Paris.
Another option may be to fly to nearby Lyon airport which is located 40 km to the east of the city and is the major transport hub for the Rhône-Alps skiing area. It used to be known as Satolas airport, but was renamed in 2000 in honour of local aviation pioneer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The airport served more than 6.5million passengers in 2005, and is set to grow with the direct tramway link to the city centre, which is due to open in 2008. Currently the best way to reach Saint Etienne is via a half hourly bus that runs to Port Dieu and Perrache stations, with a journey time of 65 minutes. The airport also has a high-speed rail link served via the TGV trains en-route from Paris to Marseille. In fact, Paris is actually accessible in less than 2 hours.
The airport is currently served by Easyjet from London Stansted, British Airways from London Gatwick, BA Connect from Birmingham and Manchester and Air France from London Heathrow.