(Millie Bright, Rachel Daly, Beth Mead, Jill Scott pick up their copy of Free Lionesses.)
Free Lionesses volunteer Prerna Acharya gives her take on Valenciennes ahead of England’s last 16 clash with Cameroon. Read on to the end for a link to the Free Lionesses city guide and World Cup giudebook…
First things first, Valenciennes is not a place where many speak English, and so the phrases in the Free Lionesses guide will definitely come in handy! I would recommend knowing some introductory phrases, they appreciate the effort even if it means pulling Google Translate out, as I did have to do at one point to carry out a conversation.
Valenciennes is a relatively small town, so everything is within walking distance. I wouldn’t recommend Uber, there’s only one Uber driver. Google Maps doesn’t have any public transport information for Valenciennes, but if a walk seems far, there probably is a bus going there – just ask a local! There is some works going out around the city centre, which may hinder some transport.
The fan zone itself is about a 10minute walk from the Station at the Palace d’Armes, which is right in the city centre. There are plenty of shops around as there is a shopping centre right next to the fan zone – I would note that there doesn’t seem to be many coffee shops around though.
There are clear signs for it from the moment you step out of the station – the same can be said for the Stade du Hainault, where all the games will be held. The station does not have anywhere to leave luggage, so if you can’t check in until later, you will have to lug your luggage around.
I remember seeing quite a few car parks around, which makes it easy for those to park up and head to the stadium.
As many said in Le Havre, most places do shut at 14h30, but there are plenty of supermarkets. The Brassieres do have a lot of seafood there, but food is rather expensive, and difficult to get by if you are a vegetarian.
There is a MacDonalds somewhere, I saw a sign for it and it is 24h, but I can’t say I saw it on my way to the stadium. I’d gone to Valenciennes for Germany v Spain, which, like England v Cameroon will be, had an awkward kick off time in terms of eating. There is a large supermarket on the way which had plenty of lunch options though so I did manage to get something.
Valenciennes is not really known for much – it is more of a quiet town which is rather scenic. There are some little soap shops from Marseille and quite a few historical buildings as well as a large art gallery. I actually stayed in a little village just outside Valenciennes called Marly which was only a 35min walk from the centre.