Les Bleues exhibition a hit in Le Havre

  • Once Upon a Time There Were Les Bleues exhibition opens in Le Havre

  • Touring exhibition retraces the history of France’s national women’s team

  • Visitors turn out in numbers for the opening

One of the Host Cities of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ and the venue for Saturday’s friendly between France and USA, Le Havre is also the first port of call for the Once Upon a Time There Were Les Bleues exhibition, which opened the same day, attracting a large number of visitors.

Featuring some unique items, the exhibition takes a chronological look at the history of the women’s game in France, covering every period from its inception during the first world war to its official recognition by the French Football Federation (FFF) in 1970 and the fortunes of Les Bleues of today.

“The exhibition will travel around France right through to the start of the World Cup and will then follow the France team,” said Elisabeth Bougeard Tournon, the head of the FFF’s amateur football development department, which is organising the exhibition. “Some players have lent us items that we’ll be returning to them when the World Cup is over. There’s Griedge Mbock’s Golden Ball from Azerbaijan 2012 and Amandine Henry’s Silver Ball from Canada 2015. They’ve given us some really prized possessions. There’s also the U-17 World Cup trophy from 2017, the only world title the women have won to date.

"France have also been crowned European U-19 champions four times but they’re the only trophies they’ve won despite the youth teams reaching 14 finals in the last 18 years. The seniors will win the next one in July.”

Someone who shares that hope is Laura Georges, one of the former players honoured in the “Hall of Femmes”, a large painting depicting 23 legends of Bleues history, which was unveiled in the presence of several dignitaries and former internationals. “It’s lovely to look at,” the ex-France player and current FFF secretary general told FIFA.com.

“It showcases players we don’t know or have forgotten about, and it gives us the chance to retrace the history of women’s football in France and show that long before the 2011 and 2019 World Cups there were women who paved the way for today’s players, enabling them to play in the best possible conditions.”

Exhibition dates

  • 19-20 January 2019: Le Havre

  • 8-9 March 2019: Bourg-en-Bresse

  • 16-17 March 2019: Reims

  • 24 March-2 April 2019: Rennes

  • 8-10 April 2019: Nantes

Fans answer the call

Lending their weight to the movement is a growing army of supporters. “I’ve always been a football fan and it was my dad who got me into women’s football,” said Christophe, who went to the museum with his family before heading off to the match. “We’ve found out a lot of things and you can see just how long a road the players have had to travel. You can feel a real passion for the game here,” he added before joining his wife at an immersive virtual reality stand that gives visitors a 360-degree view of the everyday lives of today’s Bleues players.

With the France-USA match selling out and large crowds flocking to the exhibition over the weekend, Le Havre has set the tone for what promises to be one big family celebration this coming June.