FIFA Women's World Cup city profile: Valenciennes

Northern France will be the setting when the Westfield Matildas launch their FIFA Women's World Cup campaign on June 9, 2019.

Italy are the opponents for the crucial first fixture in Group C, which is to be held in the commune of Valenciennes.

Discover more about where Australia's journey begins with our guide to one of the tournament's nine hosts.

ANALYSIS: Group C opponents Italy

GAME 2: Get to know Montpellier
GAME 3: Get to know Grenoble

About the city

Valenciennes is situated on the Scheldt river around 15km from the Belgium border in the far north Hauts-de-France region.

It is nicknamed 'the Athens of the North' and is home to approximately 44,000 people.

The city, accessible from Paris by direct train connection, is the birthplace of the famous Valenciennes lace, with the textile industry once a driving economic force.

Painters Antoine Watteau and Simon Marmion are among the historical figures to have emerged from the region, which remains a strong cultural hub through institutions like the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes (Museum of Fine Arts).

The Stade du Hainaut

Australia's opening match of France 2019 will take place at the Stade du Hainaut, which is located in the south-east of Valenciennes.

The venue was opened in July 2011 and holds around 25,000 spectators for football matches.

It has hosted international football as recently as October 2017, when France scored late to defeat the Lionesses 1-0.

Les Bleus' men's side have also featured at Stade du Hainaut, edging out Iceland 3-2 in a warm-up friendly ahead of Euro 2012.

Facilities include two large videos screens for spectators, reception and press areas, and hospitality boxes.

France and England
France take on England at the Stade du Hainaut in October 2017

Football background

Valenciennes FC is the only professional football outfit in the city.

The club has largely divided its time between the top two tiers of French football and is currently confined to Ligue 2, where it has remained since a lengthy spell in Ligue 1 ended in 2013/14.

One of Les Atheniens' most memorable moments was reached the Coupe de France final in 1951, only to lose 3-0 to RC Strasbourg.

Roger Milla, Carlos Sanchez, Jean-Pierre Pain and Didier Six are among the more noteworthy players to have passed through Valenciennes' doors.

GAME 2: Get to know Montpellier
GAME 3: Get to know Grenoble

Carlos Sanchez
Colombia mainstay Carlos Sanchez spent six years at Valenciennes
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This article was originally published on the Westfield Matildas website.