Popular French Sports: Everyone Should Know
Some of the most popular French sports include football (soccer), tennis, cycling, handball, basketball and rugby.
France is a country where sport and leisure are an integral part of life, due mainly to the geography of the country, the continental weather and lifestyle choice. The country plays host to a multitude of annual international sport & leisure events. Some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events are held in this European nation, which is otherwise famous for wine, food, cinema, and the Eiffel Tower.
The Tour de France, French Open, Andros Trophy, Six Nations Rugby, and so on. The list of sporting events that are held in France can be best described as ‘impressive’, which is why perhaps the people here are so enthusiastic when it comes to sports.
A List of Popular French Sports:
Among the popular French sports are tennis, and every year, during the spring, the best clay-court specialists in the world converge on Roland Garros to test their skills. In fact, tennis is so popular in France that it ranks only second to football. The last Frenchman to win the French Open was Yannick Noah in 1983, while the last French woman, Mary Pierce, secured the title in 2000.
If any sport can give football a run for its money in southern France, it is rugby. The sport was introduced by the British in the 1870s. Interestingly, France won the Olympic Gold for rugby when it was introduced in the Olympics in 1900. The French rugby team reached the finals of the Rugby World Cup in 1987, 1999, and 2011, but failed to capitalize on these opportunities. They have won the annual Six Nations Championship as many as 16 times. At the domestic level, the major event is the Top 14, wherein 14 clubs fight for the coveted trophy.
While it’s true that France did not establish an official handball team until the early 1990’s, since that time, they have gone on to make several successful showings in several tournaments. These accomplishments include winning the bronze medal during the 1993 Summer Olympics, reaching the finals of the 1993 World Championship and finishing third in the 2005 Summer Olympics. The sport of handball is popular in primary and secondary schools in France, and team handball itself continues to gain popularity in the country at large.
With the likes of Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, and Nicolas Batum making their presence felt in the NBA, basketball has slowly made inroads in France. Winning the EuroBasket 2013 also contributed to the popularity of this sport. The women’s national team has also done its bit, winning the European Championship twice. At the domesticSkiing level, the Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) is the premier basketball league in France, while ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne is the most-successful team having won the title on 17 occasions.
One can’t discuss popular French sports without mentioning the internationally well-known Tour de France. This cycling event takes place each July and lasts three grueling weeks. While it’s true that Lance Armstrong’s amazing seven wins of the tournament has done much to increase its popularity, there can be no doubt that France’s terrain, which at times can be quite treacherous, particularly when it rains, has also done much to raise awareness about this sport.
With some of the most famous snow-clad mountains to its credit, it is least surprising that skiing is quite popular in France. World Championships, Winter Olympics, Alpine Skiing World Championships; French men and women have been winning skiing competitions across the globe. Some of the famous names in the world of skiing include Émile Allais, Marielle Goitschel, Guy Périllat, Jason Lamy-Chappuis, and from the more recent lot, Martin Fourcade.