Stade Vélodrome: Exploring the heartbeat of Marseille

Dive into Stade Vélodrome, Marseille's legendary stadium. Check out the history, soak up the passion, and feel the vibes of the famed club Olympique de Marseille.
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If you happen to be visiting Marseille, you can’t miss seeing the skyline of the Stade Vélodrome. Almost as famous as the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, this is place that gets the locals buzzing. And I don’t just say this as someone married to a proud Marseillais.

The local Marseillais are fiercely proud of the local football (soccer) team, the Olympique de Marseille who play their home games at the Stade Vélodrome.

It is located about 2.5 miles (4km) from the Vieux Port of Marseille and located near the Prado beaches. It is also right next to a large mall called the “Centre Commercial Prado Shopping”.

Although the name “Vélodrome” comes from the French word “vélo” meaning “bicycle”, there are rarely any bicycle races here. In fact, the Velodrome has been the home to football since it opened in 1937, and has hosted several World Cup, Euros and Rugby world cup matches.

With a capacity of over 60,000 spectators, it also regularly holds concerts and even hosted Pope Francis who held a mass here in September 2023.

So let’s see why everyone in Marseille loves the Velodrome, shall we? Allons-y!

Olympique de Marseille

Much of the tour of Stade Velodrome revolves around Olympique de Marseille (OM). Founded in 1899, OM is one of the biggest football clubs in France, in a country that is crazy about football. Their biggest moment of glory was when they won the Champions’ League title in 1993.

1993 Championship display at Stade Velodrome

Since then OM lays claim to being the 1st and only French team to win a Champions League title, loudly proclaiming:

A Jamais les Premiers!

English translation: Forever the First – Motto of Olympique de Marseille fans

This might appear to be a minor anecdote, but don’t tell any Marseillais that. To date, staunch rivals Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Football Club has never won the Champions League, making the victory all that much sweeter.

Match OM vs PSG

Inside the Stadium

The first thing that strikes you is the sheer magnitude of the stadium. It is right in the heart of the city, so whether there is a match or not, it is always buzzing.

Once inside, the sweeping grandstands reveal a sea of blue and white – the unmistakable colors of Olympique de Marseille. The low seating arrangement is designed to create an intimate connection between the players and its fervent supporters.

Even the presidential and company boxes feel like they are right in the middle of the action, with only a small glass frame separating them from other fans.

Walking along the corridors around the stands, you can almost feel the echoes of the chants and cheers from the passionate supporters. Lined along the walls are posters of the team’s glory days and more recent performances.

The trophy room sitting in the presidential box proudly displays the club’s achievements, while the walls go through the timeline of Olympique de Marseille, showcasing memorabilia, jerseys, and various artifacts.

lockerroom of OM

If you are visiting during a tour, you can also visit the locker rooms and step onto that famous pitch that has seen so much history.

Stade Velodrome underwent a massive renovation in 2014, and since then has a capacity of over 64,000 spectators. It regularly sells out during matches of OM.

How to get to Stade Vélodrome?

Marseille has a metro system and there are two metro stations that will take you to the Velodrome:

  • Line M2, station Rond-Point du Prado: for spectators with tickets to the stands “Jean Bouin” and “Virage Nord”.
  • Line M2, station Sainte-Marguerite Dromel: for spectators with tickets to the stands “Ganay” and “Virage Sud”.

If you are just going on a tour of the stadium, you will want to get down at the Rond-Point du Prado.

How easy is it getting around the area?

If you are going on a tour of Stade Velodrome, note that there is a large set of stairs heading to the entrance where the tour starts. There is an Olympique de Marseille fan shop on the ground level, so you can go there and ask for a more accessible access into the Velodrome.

Inside the Velodrome, a portion of the tour is also accessible only by stairs into the seating areas.

If you are visiting the Velodrome around the time of a match of Olympique de Marseille, note that it does get very noisy and loud around the stadium, and parking will be very difficult.

Where to stay in Marseille?

There are several top areas to stay in Marseille, depending on whether you are interested in being close to attractions, coastal views, beaches, etc. Some recommended hotels are:

You can find more about where to stay in Marseille here.

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If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more facts about Marseille. A bientôt!

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