A Beggar For Good Soccer: France, Part Trois

Our summer travelogue series comes to a close— for now

Editor’s note: Welcome back to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer travelogue miniseries from Jessica Malone.

In her last missive from Europe for now, Jessica jets around France to take in the group stages of the Women’s World Cup.

The morning after USA vs Thailand I drove north to Valenciennes, near the Belgian border. After checking in to my accommodations, I headed straight back out the door to Stade de Hainaut for Germany vs Spain.

Shortly after kickoff, a torrential downpour started. Spain dominated early, with Jennifer Hermoso and her teammates dazzling the crowd on the saturated pitch But Sara Däbritz of Germany scored just before half-time and held on to win 1-0 as the sun came back out during the second half. The sell-out match was watched by 20,761.

My next destination was Normandy. I visited the D-Day beaches and American Cemetery before heading to Le Havre, where England vs Argentina was being played that night at Stade Océane. Le Havre is just a ferry ride across the English Channel from Portsmouth, so there were Lionesses fans everywhere.

A crowd of 20,294 watched as Argentina’s goalkeeper, Vanina Correra made save after save, including stopping a Nikita Parris penalty kick in the first half. England broke through in the second half with a goal from Jodie Taylor. The chorus of “Football’s Coming Home” rang out around the stadium.

I headed back to Paris for the last match of my trip – USA vs Chile at Parc des Princes. I felt a lot of emotions as I drove back in to the city. I had been traveling for almost two months but had not given any thought to finding a new job. Going to a game every few days had kept me blissfully distracted from facing the uncertainty waiting for me back home.

The USA vs Chile match at Parc des Princes was a perfect ending. There were no ticketing issues or stressful lines, and USA jumped out to an early lead and won 3-0. Chile’s goalkeeper Christiane Endler made several remarkable saves to the delight of the 45,594 people in the stadium. When the final whistle blew, it marked the end of a journey that started on a rainy night in Madrid at the end of April.

Over eight weeks, I visited 17 stadiums in four countries, seeing a total of 33 teams and 62 goals. I saw one team get relegated and two teams win trophies. I visited some of the world’s greatest stadiums and watched teams and players that I had only ever dreamed of seeing in person. And when I found the time, I did some touristy things, too. My only regret was that I couldn’t see more games.


Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.