Women's World Cup: In search of a major tournament in Paris

Fans in front of the Eiffel Tower at Euro 16 and at the Women's World Cup
Fans at Euro 2016 (left) could watch matches on a big screen at the Eiffel Tower but these Chile supporters (right) could not do the same at the Women's World Cup

On a warm Saturday evening in the summer, whether gazing towards the Eiffel Tower from the crowded Place du Trocadero, strolling alongside the River Seine or approaching the Jardin des Tuileries from the Place de la Concorde, you can enjoy some of the finest views in Paris.

What you cannot see are any obvious indications that the Women's World Cup is in town, despite there being no city hosting more games at the 2019 tournament than the French capital.

As the sun sets, Canada's Jessie Fleming opens the scoring against New Zealand in Group E in Grenoble, but there is no reaction from the thousands of people enjoying picnics on the Champ de Mars - an iconic spot where big screens had shown matches to packed fan zones during both the 2016 men's European Championship - hosted in France - and the 2018 men's World Cup in Russia.

Women's football is now as popular globally as the sport of golf, according to a report released on 4 June by the data analytics company Nielsen, while Paris is among the world's busiest tourist destinations.

And therefore, while there is a smaller fan zone - albeit one that does not fully open until 14:00 local time - opposite the Forum des Halles shopping centre across town, is the so-called 'City of Light' illuminating the Women's World Cup to as many people as it could be?

On one hand, the attendances and atmospheres at the Parc des Princes have been very impressive - not least at the hosts' spine-tingling opening win over South Korea.

But - aside from the areas immediately around the stadium, south west of the city - banners boosting the event's visibility are hard to come by in the capital.

On the day of world champions USA's match here, free maps of Paris's Metro routes display information on a rugby sevens tournament that finished two weeks previously, while most central station platforms are devoid of any posters of Women's World Cup stars.

Paris metro map
The Paris Metro maps available on the network on 16 June were still promoting the Paris Sevens Rugby tournament, which finished a week before the Women's World Cup started

Adverts for June's Champs-Elysees Film Festival - not the World Cup - are draped along the city's most famous avenue.

At other host cities, promotion for the tournament varies, but is far more visible at some, with the eye-catching roadside electronic adverts for the matches in Reims tough to miss in the champagne region, while almost every shop in the centre of the north-eastern city of Valenciennes has been decorated with flags, scarves or World Cup banners.

Yet, at the spectacular vantage point that can be enjoyed from Place du Trocadero, where large crowds of people hold their smartphones aloft for a picture of the Eiffel Tower, low-cost, unofficial merchandise is displayed for sale on sheets lying on the floor - but there are no football shirts among the miniature towers, the glow sticks and the handbags with semi-recognisable branding.

Even where there are sports tops for sale, at a string of shops near the Louvre, only those displaying the names Mbappe and Neymar can be found among Tour de France jerseys.

"Avez-vous quelque chose des equipes feminines de Coupe du Monde?" I asked hopefully.

"Non, monsieur."

Kits outside a shop at Pont Neuf
Around Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris which crosses the River Seine, France kits with players' names on are readily available - but only for the men's team

However, look closely to one side of the Place du Trocadero and there you will see it, directly overlooking the Eiffel Tower - at last, some Women's World Cup branding. It's US broadcaster Fox Sports' studio for the duration of the tournament.

Then there are other moments to lift your spirits, like the small band of Chile fans enjoying a drink on the grass of the Champ de Mars 24 hours before their goalkeeper Christiane Endler's stunning performances against the United States.

Like the enthusiastic, Marseille-supporting taxi driver who declared France's midfield star Amandine Henry to be "magnifique" and warned that Les Bleues were much better than "Monsieur Neville's" England.

Like the hordes of USA fans who swamped the Parc des Princes with their stars and stripes on Sunday, as over 45,000 saw the holders - and the Chile keeper - put on an exhibition.

And like the sea of orange that flooded into the northern cities of Le Havre and Valenciennes from the Netherlands - dancing left, dancing right - to support the European champions.

This is a truly global festival.

So why have the local authorities not adorned Paris' central areas with more visible promotion of the event?

A Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport: "One of the main promotional objectives is to maximise the audiences, both in front of their screens and in the stadiums. Even though outdoor advertising is a part of that campaign, it is only one of several platforms deployed in this phase.

"In Paris, the outdoor advertising is centralised around the stadium and around the Fifa fan experience."

When questioned about the subject, a spokesman for the Local Organising Committee pointed out that because Paris is the biggest host city and does not possess a clear city centre, efforts were focused on the areas linked to the World Cup like the stadium and the Fifa Fan Experience.

They also pointed out that Paris City Hall had been adorned with World Cup colours.

Champs-Elysees
The Champs-Elysees is full of huge banners promoting a film festival - but not the Women's World Cup

The Chatelet district houses the temporary Women's World Cup museum - a free and relatively well-produced, educational cuboid of historical information, complete with a shop - as well as the adjacent fan zone, which is closed until midday and only partially open until 14:00.

Fifa says it has also been marketing on radio and TV, as well as hosting a women's football convention in Paris earlier in June, and a spokesperson added: "For the first time in Women's World Cup history, there is a Fifa fan experience in each host city.

"The choice of the location of the fan experience and whether to include a big screen was determined by each host city."

As for the TV audiences, French channel TF1 has had record viewing figures of about 10 million in France for the host nation's first two group matches, and - although the games not involving Les Bleues are not on free-to-air channels here - the home supporters do seem to be gripped by their side's bid for a first title.

UK viewers have similarly set new records for women's football, while Fox Sports in the US has reportedly seen an 11% rise in their audience compared to four years ago.

Indeed, the world is watching the beautiful game in France this summer - you just have to be in the right place to notice it in the nation's most beautiful city.