Originally built in 1933, the Stade Bollaert-Delelis has undergone a significant revamp for Euro 2016. The stadium was built by a group of unemployed miners and originally opened in 1933.
It takes it double-barrel name from two of the town’s famous sons.
Felix Bollaert, a former director of the Lens Mining Company, was the original while the second suffix was added much more recently in 2012 after the death of Andre Delelis, a long-serving mayor of Lens and die-hard supporter of the town’s football club.
The venue is seen as one of France’s most iconic stadiums and has hosted games at the 1984 European Championship and 1998 World Cup as well as the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Lens is home to around 36,000 inhabitants, almost all of whom could be fitted into the town’s football stadium.
It will host a total of four games at Euro 2016, three during the group stage and one last-16 knockout tie.
Sights to see:
The Louvre-Lens Museum is a branch of the world-famous Parisian museum of the same name and was opened in 2012 after Lens was chosen from a list of candidates seeking to host a regional branch of the Louvre.
The Lens Railway Station is no ordinary train station. Its Art Deco style boasts mosaics along the interior, with designs representing scenes of industrial life along the walls.
The formal gardens of the Jean-Perrin Science Faculty are situated on what were formerly the offices of the Lens Mining Company.
La Base and the 11/19 twin slag heaps offer a preserved vision of what a mining site was like with the pithead, slag heaps and miners’ housing among the most impressive exhibits in the four preserved mining heritage sites in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
The Route du Louvre is an international marathon run between the neighbouring area of Lens and Lille. Its inception back in 2006 was an attempt to bring the two areas together in spirit and the race is run annually amid a carnival atmosphere.
RC Lens are now in the French second tier but on April 25 1998, they stood on the precipice of their only Ligue 1 title. Bastia were the visitors that afternoon in the second to last game of the season.
Striker Tony Vairelles would net a hat-trick to the delight of the home faithful as Lens ran out 5-1 winners and they got the point they needed on the final day of the season to win the title.
It was a memorable time for Lens, who also landed the French Cup in 1998 and reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 2000.
Group Stage Standout:
England v Wales
The clash of these neighbouring nations is destined to be one of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the entire group stage.
Wales are making their long-awaited return to the big stage after 58 years while England will want to banish the memories of an unsatisfactory World Cup campaign in Brazil. Their meeting should be a spicy affair.