GETTING TO KNOW: PARIS

For those supporters making the relatively short trip as the team resumes Champions League action away this week, the official Chelsea website asks a Paris-based Blue for some information about the city and football culture there.

Ali Maxwell is a 21-year-old Chelsea fan from London who lives in the French capital. He offers some advice for those wishing to visit the local tourist attractions.

‘The Eiffel Tower is impressive enough to stand and look at, but even better at the top,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.

‘Getting up there costs between five and 15 euros depending on how high you want to go, and whether you think you can handle the walk.

‘The Arc de Triomphe, a stroll down the Champs-Elysées, a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral [pictured below] – these are the quintessential tourist destinations.

‘For something a bit different, visit Père Lachaise, a huge cemetery which contains the burial sites of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and hundreds of leading figures from French history.

‘If it is a sunny day and you are looking for a quiet afternoon, spend a few hours in the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Bois de Vincennes.’

Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris is renowned for its fine cuisine, but while supporters hoping to sample the very best in French food and drink may need to dig deep, there are ways in which you can keep costs down, as Maxwell explains.

‘In terms of eating and drinking, get ready for a financial hit,’ he advises. ‘It doesn’t have to require a mortgage though, if you are savvy.

‘In Bastille, try Rue de Lappe, a short cobbled street two minutes’ walk from Bastille metro which is lined with about 30 different bars. Find the one with the longest happy hour and make the most of it. Oberkampf is another area filled with bars and clubs, find Rue Oberkampf and settle in.

‘Montmartre/Pigalle is an eclectic area that caters for all tastes, this is possibly the Soho equivalent in Paris.

‘If you arrive on Tuesday night and want to catch other Champions League action, one good place to be is Patrick’s on rue Montrueil, two stops from Bastille on the metro. They serve reasonably priced beer and hundreds of different whiskys, with one big screen and four other smaller screens all able to show different matches.

‘For dinner, you can’t really go wrong, quality wise. Even small cafés will normally make above-average food.

‘If you are looking for something more upmarket, you will have more options than you could possibly want, and all types of cuisine.’

Montmartre Paris

In terms of the game itself, it will undoubtedly require a strong performance to ensure we head back to London with a positive result ahead of the second leg. Laurent Blanc’s side are cruising to a second consecutive Ligue 1 title.

‘With Edison Cavani, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack, they have pace, power and, in Zlatan’s case, a remarkable ability to score from anywhere in the opposition’s half, with any part of his anatomy,’ Maxwell says, ‘and their midfield has been boosted by the signing of Yohan Cabaye. Having said that, this is their biggest test of the season by a mile.

‘Parisians in general do not seem hugely active in playing the sport as a leisure activity and it is certainly a very different type of fandom here in Paris,’ he explains.

‘Without any fierce geographical rivals, although the matches against Marseille can’t be ignored, there seems to be an air of indifference aimed at the way PSG have started to dominate the league with their money. That said, there is no doubt that the Champions League is a different matter and the Parisians are excited, after a turbulent few decades, to have a team that can compete with the European elite. French players such as Cabaye, Digne and especially Blaise Matuidi are loved by the PSG fans.

‘Even though Paris is a one-team city, it’s not hugely obvious in the central areas. Move towards to outskirts of Paris (where the Parc des Princes and Stade de France are located) and the footballing fervour will become more apparent.’

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