Follow us on an unusual tour of France. This time, we alternate football matches with walks around the major must-see sites and off the beaten track. From the working-class city of Valenciennes to the port of Le Havre and the student city of Montpellier, beautiful surprises await curious visitors. They will all be enthusiastically promoting women’s sport, supporting an atmosphere that’s just as lively as during the men’s tournament. From the north to the south of France, the tournament also offers the perfect chance to have a break on the sidelines: in Brittany, Normandy, the Côte d’Azur, the Alps, Champagne or Lyon.
Paris: the kick-off
On Friday, 7 June 2019, the renowned Parc des Princes will be in the spotlight. The city of Paris is set to host the opening match of the Women’s Football World Cup, with France taking on the Republic of Korea. No doubt the French capital will be on fire to support the home team, in all the bars as well as at the stadium. Watching the tournament kick-off is the ideal way to start a party weekend in Paris... especially if France wins the match!
Brittany: heritage in Rennes
On the second day of the tournament it’s Brittany that takes the stage, with the stadium at Roazhon Park in Rennes set to welcome nearly 30,000 spectators. The Breton capital is planning no less than seven games during the competition, including a quarter-final on 29 June. What better excuse to stay a few days in Rennes and take the time to admire its exceptional architectural heritage: 87 buildings and façades are classified historical monuments!
Normandy: Le Havre by the sea
France’s second French port, Le Havre is a proud maritime city on the Atlantic coast. Here, football is king: founded in 1872, Le Havre’s Athletic Club is one of the oldest French football clubs, and the city has seen the birth of many great players including Paul Pogba, Ibrahim Ba and Vikash Dhorasoo. Gateway to Normandy, Le Havre is less than an hour’s drive from Deauville and Honfleur. Among the matches scheduled at the Stade Océane is a quarter-final on 27 June.
Le Havre Tourism
Champagne: sip the nectar of victory in Reims
Champagne is the celebrity of the city of Reims, invented in nearby Épernay by Dom Pérignon, and associated with the destinies of the kings of France from the end of the 5th century. A visit to Reims Cathedral is a must. This year, Reims is preparing to mark the history of women’s football and a new chapter will be written on the pitch of the Stade Auguste-Delaune. We can already guess the victorious team’s drink of choice!
Hauts-de-France: a friendly atmosphere in Valenciennes
An important part of the mining industry in the 19th century, Valenciennes nestles close to the Belgian border in northern France. Here, football takes on a new dimension: rich in legendary clubs (especially Lille and Lens), Hauts-de-France vibrates in tune with football like no other French region, and the Stade du Hainaut is no exception. There’ll be an electric atmosphere for the quarter-finals scheduled for 29 June. Far from its industrial past, Valenciennes is also distinguished today by a bold cultural programme, led by the Phoenix, a performing arts theatre on a European scale.
The Alps: at the heart of the mountains in Grenoble
“At the end of each street is a mountain!” This is how Stendhal described his hometown of Grenoble. Surrounded by the Chartreuse massif, the Vercors massif and the Belledonne chain, the capital of the Alps is a reference for all mountain lovers. Winter sports, but also trail, paragliding and hiking are legendary here. Football also has its place, thanks to the construction of the Stade des Alpes in 2008, which will host several matches of the World Cup: the first pitching Brazil against Jamaica on 9 June.
Côte d'Azur: on the Mediterranean in Nice
Nowhere is the Côte d’Azur more beautiful than in Nice, where the sea laps the city along the famous Promenade des Anglais. Here, in the heart of the Baie des Anges, the atmosphere is unforgettable: the French dolce vita blown across from nearby Italy. Fine food, history and traditions are in the spotlight. Football is played here in red and black, the colours of the ‘Gym’, nickname given to the Olympic Gymnast Club Nice Côte d’Azur, founded in 1904. The first match on the pitch of the Nice Stadium will be England v Scotland on 9 June.
Occitanie: party in Montpellier
Historic, celebratory, bohemian, multicultural, artistic: Montpellier is all those things at once. Medieval alleyways rub shoulders with contemporary architecture, theatre festivals alternate with extreme sports... all under the almost perennial sunshine. Though the women’s football team wasn’t created till 2001, Montpellier Hérault Sports Club players have won since, being crowned champions of France in 2004 and 2005, four-time vice-champions of France, and winning the Coupe de France three times between 2006 and 2017. The Stade de la Mosson is set to host its first match on 10 June between Canada and Cameroon.
Lyon: top of the leagues
You’ll have to wait till the semi-finals on 2 and 3 July to attend a match at the Stade de Lyon, but the city will also host the final four days later. Olympique Lyonnais is THE reference for women’s football in France. They already hold 12 consecutive league titles, seven French Cups and five women’s UEFA League Championships (including the last three). Who can beat them? During the World Cup, Lyon also resounds with concerts in its ancient amphitheatre for Les Nuits de Fourvière – not to mention its foodie breaks.
Get to France from Canada
Air Canada offers year-long flights to Paris from Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Air Canada also offers year-long flights to Lyon from Montreal as well as seasonal flights to Nice, Marseille and Bordeaux from Montreal.
Air Transat offers year-long flights to Paris from Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Vancouver. Air Transat also offers year-long flights to Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Nantes from Montreal as well as seasonal flights to Toulouse, Nice, and Mulhouse from Montreal.
WestJet offers seasonal flights to Paris from Calgary and Halifax.