The Olympique de Marseille insigniaThe French are football-mad and none more so than the Marseillais. And Olympique de Marseille (OM for short) is central to the city's cultural landscape. Its local fan base is enormous and it regularly clocks up the highest match attendances in France. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

In fact OM has even named one of the stands at the Stade Vélodrome, where the team is based, after one of its most enthusiastic supporters, the first time ever a fan has been so honoured.

Patrice de Peretti - affectionately known as Depé - became a legend after pledging to attend every match stripped to the waist, whatever the weather: he watched OM play in Berlin during temperatures of -12 degrees Celsius / 10 degrees Fahrenheit. He died in 2000 at the age of 28 of a ruptured aneurysm.

The two long stands to the east and west of the pitch commemorate French athletes from the early 20th century, who both also died young, a runner (the Tribune Jean Bouin) and a cyclist (the Tribune Gustave Ganay).

Local fans sit in the curved stands at the north and south ends of the pitch: the Virage Nord named after Peretti and the Virage Sud, also known as Chevalier Roze after a nobleman who distinguished himself during Marseille's plague epidemic of 1720.

OM Marseille Velodrome seating planBuilt in the south of Marseille in 1937, the Stade Vélodrome is thus named because of the cycling track which encircled the pitch until 1971.

It's now known as the Orange Vélodrome. After a long search for a name sponsor, the telecommunications corporation committed in 2016 to the stadium for ten years.

The Vélodrome has recently undergone extensive expansion and renovation. Its seating capacity has been increased to 67,395 and the stadium equipped with a spectacular (and much needed) wave-shaped roof to shield fans from bad weather.

The whole structure looks simply stunning, inside and outside: its grand, swirling contours are magnificent viewed from above, say the terrace of Notre Dame de la Garde). And it is even more dramatic when illuminated at night.

The Tribune Gustave Ganay has been fitted with a roof and a VIP room. Its seating has been reconfigured to bring it in line with UEFA standards and the rake has been adjusted to improve the spectators' view of the pitch.

The Tribune Jean Bouin has been completely razed and rebuilt from the foundations up. And both Virages now have greater leg room.

New VelodromeThe new Vélodrome, pictured, opened its doors in 2014. The renovation came at a high price, 270 million €uros.

But income is boosted by hiring out the stadium for concerts, festivals, conferences and other sporting events, such as matches of the RC Toulonnais (Toulon Rugby Club), whose own Stade Mayol is too small for major home fixtures. The Vélodrome also hosted six matches, including a semi-final, for the the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Euro 2016 tournament.

It will be used again for qualifying soccer matches during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The adjacent, smaller Stade Delort has also been renovated and is now hosting rugby and athletics events.

At certain times of the year it's possible to go on a guided tour of the Vélodrome, which takes in the stands and the edge of the pitch, as well as many areas you won't see when you come to a match.

These include the dressing rooms (and players' private swimming pool!), dug-outs, press area and private function rooms such as the dramatic Salle Panoramique on the fourth floor.

velodrome marseille front entranceThe tours are seasonal, take between a hour and 75 minutes and tend to run during school holidays. Obviously they have to be scheduled around fixtures and other events booked at the stadium.

You can book them on the Marseille Tourist Office website, at the Tourist Office itself (11 la Canebière) or at the Vélodrome - but you'll have to take pot luck as to whether your guide speaks English!

This whole area has been extensively developed, with a new four star hotel, a shopping mall, apartment blocks, a clinic and more. A huge OM shop, one of the largest for a football club in Europe, has opened next to the ticket office on the boulevard Michelet. An OM museum (the "MuseOM") will follow in due course.

Founded in 1899, OM - whose motto, "Droit au But", means "Straight to the Goal" - is the most decorated club in French football history and still remains the only French team ever to win the UEFA Champions League, in 1992-3, when Olympique de Marseille beat AC Milan 1-0 in Munich.

Its reputation was blighted in 1994 by a dramatic match-fixing scandal involving the club's then-President Bernard Tapie, but OM bounced back and in 2010, 2011 and 2012 won the Coupe de la Ligue, or French League Cup.

Velodrome stadium Marseille standHowever more recent seasons have been disappointing and in 2016 Olympique de Marseille's majority owner, the billionaire, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, put the club up for sale.

It was acquired by the American businessman Frank McCourt, formerly the controversial owner of the baseball team the LA Dodgers, which went into bankruptcy during his tenure.

To buy tickets for a home match - ideally against OM's arch-rival, Paris Saint Germain, a traditionally lively confrontation usually referred to as "Le Classique" or "El Classico" - visit the Olympique de Marseille official website (you will need to register first).

If you are already in Marseille, you can buy match tickets at the Vélodrome itself, of course, (there's a billeterie or ticket office on the boulevard Michelet). Tickets for the Virages are available on subscription only and are extremely hard to come by.

Olympique de Marseille has a generous allocation of spaces for disabled fans (357 seats, in all areas of the stadium) and the largest club in Europe especially for them, Handifan Club OM.

Its volunteers will meet fans at the car-park areas reserved for wheelchair users, guide them to their seats and remain available in case of need until the match is over.

Handifan Club OM, 32 rue de la Nerthe, 13180 Gignac la Nerthe. Fax: (+33) 6 21 72 02 75. Website for Handifan Club OM (in French only). Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Handilib is a company offering a taxi service for wheelchairs (reserve at least two weeks before the match). Tel: (+33) 4 91 11 41 00. Anyone not needing to drive is strongly advised to travel to the stadium by public transport (see below).

Olympique also has a club for its junior supporters, Les Minots de l'OM. It's of greatest interest if your family is in Marseille for an extended period and offers gifts, special access and so on. Website for Les Minots de l'OM.

OM Cafe, MarseilleIf you can't get your hands on a ticket, watch the game at one of Marseille's many football bars. Right on the Old Port, the OM Brasserie, pictured, has 13 television screens and the atmosphere there will be almost as electric as at the stadium itself. You will need to reserve a table in advance.

Many sports bars all around the city also screen matches live: look out for the blue and white OM sticker in the window and the words transmission en direct.

It's possible to watch the OM squad in training at La Commanderie (aka the Centre Robert-Louis Dreyfus) on the outskirts of the city.

According to officials at the stadium, you can just turn up at the Commanderie without a reservation. However, local fans strongly recommend booking in advance, as space can be tight. The sessions last around two hours and there is no entrance fee.



Where: The Stade Vélodrome, 3 Boulevard Michelet, 13008 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 71 40 50; La Commanderie (aka the Centre Robert-Louis Dreyfus), 33 traverse de la Martine, 13012 Marseille. Website for the Stade Vélodrome. logoWhere to stay: The best place to stay is the new Marriott Marseille Prado Vélodrome: click here to read our review. And click here to search for other hotels near the Marseille Stade Vélodrome

How to get to the Vélodrome: Metro line 2 (stop Rond-Point du Prado), then a short (550 metre / 600 yard) walk.

If your seats are in the Tribune Gustave Ganay area of the stadium, travel one stop further to the last stop on the line, Sainte Marguerite Dromel.

The Vélodrome has around a thousand parking spaces but, given that road traffic will be heavy on match nights, it is not advisable to take your car.

Access to the stadium has changed following the renovation work. Click here for a detailled access map.

How to get to the Commanderie / Centre Robert-Louis Dreyfus: Metro line 1 (stop La Fourragère). Then bus 10 (direction Les Caillols Hôpital; stop Les Liberateurs). From there, it is a 20 minute walk to the training centre.


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