Two English football fans have been arrested and one rushed to hospital with a serious head wound after trouble flared between fans and locals in Marseille ahead of England's Euro 2016 opener against Russia.

High-spirited scenes descended into violence in the Old Port of the city in the early hours of Friday before riot police swooped and set off tear gas.

According to reports some England fans were heard chanting: "Isis, where are you?''

One man was floored with blood gushing from his head after an apparent ambush involving dozens of supporters outside an Irish bar.

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In scenes sparking comparisons with some of the violence in the city at World Cup 1998, groups of locals clashed with English fans, exchanging blows and throwing wooden chairs amid chaotic scenes.

Police stand guard as England fans gather and chant slogans in the port area of Marseille. Photo / Getty
Police stand guard as England fans gather and chant slogans in the port area of Marseille. Photo / Getty

One eyewitness, who arrived in Marseille on Thursday, said: "I was just sat at my table when my drink was ripped out of my hand and it all kicked off. I honestly couldn't say who was to blame. It all happened in a blur."

The injured man from northern England, who is in his early 30s, was flattened during the violence with blood gushing from his head.

He was barely conscious and lying in a pool of blood as locals called for an ambulance.

Some supporters are said to have retaliated by attacking local shopkeepers and other youths in the area.

Marseille resident Nicolas, 26, said violence broke out after England fans started chanting: "Isis, where are you?!"

He added: "Several hundred, even thousands of English fans - so called 'hooligans' - came especially to destroy everything.

"The police are overwhelmed and don't know what to do anymore."

Witnesses also reported fans chanting "We love you Isis, we do."

French police used tear gas on English fans in Marseille after clashes broke out. Photo / AP
French police used tear gas on English fans in Marseille after clashes broke out. Photo / AP

The reported chants come amid a heightened state of security after the Paris terror attacks in November.

Riot police swarmed to the scene on a side street close to the area where fans had been mingling peacefully.

Dog handlers sealed off a large section of the marina road and ushered England supporters away from the area after using tear gas and dogs to break up the violence.

Some eyewitnesses claimed they were targeted by youths brandishing makeshift weapons and shouting "Get the English".

England supporters had massed outside the Queen Victoria pub, and O'Malley's, an Irish bar next door, before Saturday's big kick off.

"They were baiting us, and then attacked," said one England fan from Leeds, who asked to be named solely as Simon.

"None of the England fans were doing anything wrong - a few of us had a bit much to drink, but that was all.

"Suddenly a French gang appeared and started attacking us, and throwing stuff. We had to defend ourselves, and then the police showed up."

Groups of fans were then seen running in different directions, as restaurants and bars in the area quickly shut doors and pulled down shutters.

One eyewitness claimed the violence was sparked after a group of supporters chanted at a local Muslim teenager who walked past one of the English drinking spots.

Chris Lord, another England fan from London, said: "This was a really nasty attack. The gang knew exactly where we were, and clearly wanted to hurt us."