PHOTO: MORRIS/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
This summer, France becomes the center of the sports universe, as the quadrennial FIFA Women’s World Cup joins three annual events: the French Open, the Tour de France, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Here, a Hemispheres-approved itinerary that will have sports fans shouting Vive la France!
Kick off your journey at the Parc des Princes with the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, as the host nation takes on a South Korea team bent on revenge. (The French eliminated the Koreans in the 2015 tournament’s Round of 16.)
Head to the historic clay courts of the Stade Roland Garros for the French Open Women’s Singles Final. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch world No. 1 Naomi Osaka gunning for her third straight major title (and if you’re really lucky, she’ll be taking on Serena Williams).
Your second day at Roland Garros sees the French Open Men’s Singles Final. Bet on seeing 11-time champ Rafael Nadal (who has a career record of 86-2 at Roland Garros) against rival Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.
Less than an hour by train from Paris, in the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region, see Team USA begin its World Cup title defense against Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, a historic venue that hosted games for the 1938 Men’s World Cup.
Channel your favorite race-car driver as you cruise 200 miles west for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Over the course of a full day, teams of three drivers battle to complete the most laps of the 8.45-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, averaging over 200 mph on the straights. The Woodstock-like atmosphere among the 250,000-odd camped-out spectators is as big a draw as the race itself.
Visit Normandy 75 years after D-Day to see Team USA face its biggest group-stage challenge, Sweden. These teams have played more matches against each other than any other two nations in the history of the Women’s World Cup. (The U.S. has a 3-1-1 record.)
France’s second city hosts the World Cup Semifinals on consecutive days at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Stick around Lyon for the World Cup Final. If the oddsmakers are right, the host French will be trying to hold off the American juggernaut.
LA PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES
The Grand Départ of this year’s Tour de France takes place in Belgium, so wait and get your cycling fix at Stage 6, a 97-mile leg through the Vosges range, from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, that includes some of the steepest climbs in the three-week race.