The matchday experience

OK, so you’re visiting Bordeaux and you’ve done all the standard touristy things that you’re expected to do, and now the plan is to take in a home match at the Matmut-Atlantique. Or perhaps you’re just treating yourself to a mainland European football awayday in Bordeaux. Here is everything you need to know to make the most out of a Girondins game. 


Ticketing

General public tickets are available online for all Ligue 1 matches via the official Girondins website, or over the counter at the ticketing office in Le Haillan, and ahead of the game and on the night itself at the stadium. Prices vary according to the opposition (and seat category), and are particularly low for the early rounds of cup games. Matches very, very rarely sell out, so it is never difficult to buy tickets. The exact kickoff times of Ligue 1 encounters are usually publicised around one month before games. By default, Ligue 1 games are scheduled on Saturday nights (which is when the lion's share of matches take place), but the matchday weekend does in fact extend from Friday night until Sunday night. Traditionally, the matchday's tastiest fixture is held on the Sunday night.

Access

As far as public transport is concerned the stadium can be easily reached by tram: the Parc des Expositions line C northern terminus is just outside the stadium. On match nights, a shuttle bus also operates from Brandenburg tram station on line B. Full public transport information can be found on the operator's website here, and a special leaflet which details instructions on how to get to the stadium can be found here.

Driving to the stadium is relatively straightforward for mid-table fixtures but can be more problematic against bigger teams or if kick-off time clashes with rush-hour traffic or another event being held at the nearby Parc des Expositions. Access is well sign-posted from the Rocade ring-road, although an easy alternative is to find a way of accessing the area via the backroads of Blanquefort. A large car park is available free of charge although many prefer to park in the surrounding streets (traffic restrictions apply on match nights). Note that sometimes, particularly after big matches, it can take a substantial amount of time to get out of the car park.

A further option is to cycle to the stadium, which is within easy reach of the city centre. A bicycle path that stretches as far as Lacanau-Océan on the Atlantic coast runs through the town centres of the suburbs of Eysines, Le Haillan and Saint-Médard-en-Jalles and can easily be picked up.

Stadium

Wherever you’re sat in the stadium, you will have an excellent view of proceedings. The top tier is steep and therefore not for the faint-hearted. The all-singing, all-jumping “Ultras” supporters position themselves in the southern end (“Virage sud”, gates 16, 18, 20, 21, 23 and 25 on the diagram below). Travelling away supporters are allocated their own secure section, via the gates numbered 52, 54 and 56. Sections H1 to H8 are reserved for officials, VIPs, players’ families, etc. so tickets are only available if you have friends in high places. Privatised corporate hospitality suites can be spotted at mid-level on the east and west stands.


It is worth bearing in mind that the sun has been known to shine brightly on people sat in the east stand; if you’re attending a late-afternoon summertime fixture, it can get very hot if you’re not sat in the shade. All seating is under cover although, due to the laws of physics, the front rows can get wet when it rains.

A mid-level concourse runs around the ground between the two tiers of the stadium, with a clear view of the pitch from all points. For mid-table matches, it is possible to walk all the way round. For bigger matches, gates are closed at each corner. Disabled spectators are allocated space at concourse level. Oh, and there's free unlimited wifi access so that you can share selfies with friends and family. 

Food 
There are various takeaway options available at the stadium. At concourse level there is a succession of pizza, kebab, hotdog and sandwich stands. Similar “official” outlets are located on the esplanade in front of the stadium ahead of big matches. Slightly further from the stadium in most directions, independent food trucks sell sandwiches, burgers, kebabs, etc. It is possible to take food into the stadium although bottletops and fruit are not allowed, just in case you decide to throw them at the referee, player or similar. Finally, at ground level outside on the southern flank of the stadium, a full-on brasserie serves food and drinks.

Club store
A number of small merchandise stalls are dotted around the concourse, but the main store is to be found at ground level, also on the southern flank of the stadium. The shop is broken down into three sections: replica shirts and sportswear; smart and casualwear; and general gifts, gadgets and souvenirs. The shop operates regular opening hours as well as being systematically open before and after every home game. Other Girondins stores can be found on Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux city centre, and at the training grounds in Le Haillan (where the shop is open during office hours, and closed weekends).

Matchday rituals

The Matmut Atlantique crowd is a well-behaved, mostly quiet and studious beast, other than the “Ultras” behind the southern end goal (the end which the Girondins prefer to attack in the second half). The Ultras have a group of leaders who spend the whole match with their back to the game, shouting instructions through a PA and encouraging the crowd to sing their recurring repertoire of numbers (there is little spontaneous chanting). Listen out for songs to the tunes of, bizarrely, The Sounds of Silence and Rivers of Babylon.

Upon arrival, spectators are all given a free matchday programme, GMatch, which features various facts and figures, an interview with a home team player, an interview with an away team player (usually one who enjoys some form of connection with Bordeaux), and bits and bobs of news about the club.

In an ongoing quest to draw spectators to the ground, an MC is on hand to build up the pre-match atmosphere, along with a female dance troupe and a group of acrobatic cheerleaders (or something). In recent years, a club mascot (a blue puma called “BenGi”) has appeared on the scene. He was initially roundly booed by the Ultras supporters upon each appearance who regarded his arrival as a symptom of modern-day football; they appear to have gradually warmed to him, but he rarely ventures down to their end of the ground.

Unless things have gone horribly wrong, or if the performance has been especially below par, the Girondins players finish up each match saluting the Ultras behind the southern end goal.

Safety

There is little or no crowd trouble at Bordeaux games. Increased police presence can be observed at high-profile fixtures such as those against Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, Nice and nearest geographical rivals Toulouse (match labelled as "le derby de la Garonne") and Nantes ("le derby de l'Atlantique"). On the whole though, everything remains very good-natured and family-friendly. At some fixtures, there is even notable camaraderie between the two sets of supporters; a special relationship has developed over the years with Saint-Etienne supporters, for instance.

Accommodation

It is easy to find accommodation in and around Bordeaux; there are plenty of hotel, B&B and AirBNB options available. A number of hotels are located in the Bordeaux Lac quarter within walking distance of the stadium; reliable and renowned establishments include Novotel, Mercure and Ibis.