I have always loved Monaco, home of Formula 1 but also of l’AS Monaco. The place is amazing and buzzing. Not the new Monaco though, with all the ugly apartments, but the old Monaco where the Palace is. It is also the place where my cousin, Laurent Viaud, made a name for himself playing under Wenger in midfield alongside World Cup Winner Emmanuel Petit or Brazilian and Belgium stars, Sonny Anderson and Enzo Scifo. After many months of hard work, it was time to take a break and head down to the South with my son. We flew from London to Marseille, rented a car and made my way east towards Monaco. The place was pact and hot (34 degrees). What was nice is that the GP was 2 weeks prior and all the stands and safety features were still around. Took the car round the circuit…ace. But back to football and Le Stade Louis II was our first international stadium tour. Continental stadiums have a different architecture, usually an athletic track.
Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club (commonly referred to as AS Monaco is a Monaco-based football club. The club was founded in 1919 and plays in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football. The team plays its home matches at the Stade Louis II in Fontvieille.
Though based in Monaco, the club plays in the French football league system. Monaco is one of the most successful clubs in France, having won seven league titles (my cousin won one of them in 1997) and five Coupe de France trophies. The club has also competed in European football having been runners-up in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1992 and the UEFA Champions League in 2004.
Stade Louis II Stadium history
We arrived at 2.15pm and went to the East side reception. I asked if we could visit the stadium and the lady at reception very kindly agreed to take me through it. The cost of the visit is cheap as chips, 5 euros (£4) and last approx. 30min.
The charming lady explains to us that it is not purely a football stadium but a sports complex on many level. Indeed, we start by the visit of the basketball arena inside the stadium with a seating capacity of 9,000. She then shows me the gym and the olympic swimming pool. I am amazed because the stadium is small but they did dig deep when the Parisians architect conceived the stadium.
We very quickly make our way to the dressing room and it is small but the seats are comfy and make of pure expensive wood. It is nice to seat and imagine my cousin getting ready to play against AC Milan in the Champions League back in 1997. Adjacent to the dressing room is a small gym with few indoor bikes and where you can kick the ball. We then make our way up onto the pitch like gladiators into the ring (you have to climb few stairs to get onto the pitch like in Marseille) and my o my is it hot. As you exit the tunnel you can see the famous arches on your left. The stadium inside is nice but I am not a fan of having a track (fans too far away). Just time for the little one to run around and admire the job that the gardener has to do (imaging having a car park under the pitch as well as the hot temperatures) to keep the grass green. She explains to me that the pitch is made in England and I reckon it would cost them about 1 million euros.
We then conclude our tour by thanking our guide and make our way back to the car park in Monte Carlo.