Sport in France is also inherent in the country’s culture, like local croissants and red wine. The French, quite gambling and purposeful, became the founders of many European sports. This country has its own popular disciplines, including rugby, soccer, basketball, and many others.

In recent years, while preserving many traditional sports in the country, areas that contribute to the development of tourism and outdoor activities have become famous: diving and surfing, rafting and parasailing, equestrianism and yachting, hang gliding, and paintball.

The number of sports clubs working with tourists is increasing. For example, the camp in Rambouillet near Paris offers its services in equestrian discipline. In March 2018, the Saut Hermes equestrian competitions were held in the Grand Palais after a long break.

What disciplines are the most popular?

Every country has traditional and later adopted sports. Traditional French games include:

  • hundred-cell drafts, according to legend, invented by one of the courtiers of Philip II, the French king;
  • French billiards carom with chips, still very popular in the gaming establishments of the Cote d’Azur;
  • a street game of petanque, which is easiest to participate in the Parisian Place de Greve and the Promenade des Anglais in Nice;
  • cycling, competitions in which the two-kilometer distance was first held in 1868 in St. Claude Park, and in 1900 the International Cycling Federation was founded. Currently, the world’s most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France, which, thanks to the light hand of the cheerful French, has the unofficial name of the Big Loop, annually pleases the audience for three weeks in July!

Borrowed disciplines also have long become the national ones of this country:

  • rugby with the beautiful National Center in Linas-Marcoussis, with a soccer ball placed on the Eiffel Tower during the Rugby World Cup in 2007, with three symbolic nicknames for the players (roosters, tricolors, and blue), with the International Championship scheduled for 2023 in France;
  • hockey, which came from Canada but was first played in Europe on a French rink in 1894 and gave birth to the Magnus League;
  • golf, numbering 530 courses in France, each surrounded by green lawns and trees, which are more part of a magical landscape than sports facilities;
  • football, first tested by the French in Bordeaux in 1881, immediately won their love and became professional in 1930!

What sports are the most popular?

Football is the most popular discipline in France. There are thousands of squads across the country, and sports are a hot topic among the locals. The country has professional and amateur teams, including a women’s division. The first football club was formed in 1863 by British immigrants, and modern football was invented in 1872 by English sailors.

The France national football squad represents France on the international stage, while the French Football Federation administers the teams. Foreign teams in countries such as French Guiana and Martinique play on France’s behalf. Foreign players such as Lilian Thuram from Guadeloupe and Bernard Lama from Martinique have been assets in France in the football arena.

Another popular discipline is handball. And although there was no official national handball team in France until the early 1990s, since then, it has successfully started several times in several tournaments.

These achievements include winning a bronze medal at the 1993 and 2005 Summer Olympics. Handball is popular in primary and secondary schools, but the sport continues to gain popularity nationwide.

It is impossible to discuss popular sports in this European country without mentioning the famous international tournament Tour de France.

This cycling festival takes place every year in July and lasts for three grueling weeks, during which cyclists cover 2000 km. Every year the route changes and sometimes goes beyond the country’s borders. However, the finish line is always on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Sometimes it is so difficult to get there that you cannot do it without a semi-trailer or tractor.

Is there any particular French discipline?

Pétanque is considered the French national game. Like British bowling or Italian bocce, it was also traditional in France to play with metal balls on a clay surface with a glass of pastis. The game is believed to have originated around 1910.

Pétanque is played between two players or teams, where the players take turns throwing or rolling steel balls 7-8 cm in diameter (boules) as close to the target as possible.

The International Federation of Petanque was founded on March 8, 1958, in Marseilles. In 2005, the traditional pétanque game was declared a «high-level sport» by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

These are just some of the popular disciplines in France. But even this shortlist shows that the state has something to be proud of – their athletes are very talented and continue to conquer new heights in sports.