Popular French sports, activities and pastimes
Sports are deeply embedded in French culture, with high participation locally and significant interest in sports and leisure on a national level.
This is a country where sport and leisure are integral to the daily life of most residents, with a plethora of different sports played across the country and by all ages. Leisure pursuits are also pursued on a regular basis, with the general climate helping everyone to get out and about.
The French love affair with football
The French love football and it became even more popular when France created history on July 12, 1998, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup.
Fishing for all
In stark contrast, both river and sea fishing are extremely popular leisure pursuits in France, and of course France is a country which caters for all types of fishing, with a vast variety of rivers, lakes and coastal waters in which to fish. Carp fishing is popular and available to all, so many keen anglers may find that they choose their home in France according to its proximity to a local carp fishing lake.
The third most popular sporting passion in France is rugby. Rugby Union is something you will find on every television in every bar, in every village during the rugby season, and the French are very competitive when it comes to the sport being played at national level. Each year, France participates in the Six Nations Championship along with England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The French rugby team is consistently ranked as one of the strongest in Europe – and was only knocked out of the 2015 World Cup by eventual winners New Zealand.
Rugby Union is something you will find on every television in every bar, in every village during the rugby season, and the French are very competitive when it comes to the sport being played at national level.
Anyone for tennis?
Tennis is also extremely popular in France, with the best clay court players in the world converging on the Roland Garros courts in Paris in springtime. And let’s not forget Marion Bartoli, who won the ladies’ singles championship at Wimbledon in 2013.
A strong pair of hands
A lesser-known sport often taught in schools and gaining popularity in France is handball. The French established an official handball team in the early 1990s, and it has been going strongly ever since. Basketball is another surprisingly popular sport in France. There is a national team and this particular sport is being introduced gradually into schools across the country.
Cycling and the Tour de France
You can’t talk about sports in France without mentioning cycling. Every year after the Tour de France, you are likely to see endless serious cyclists taking to the roads all over the country. The first Tour de France was held in 1903 – each race lasts for three gruelling weeks, with the participants having to cross some treacherous terrain.
Formula One: Four time winners
Motor sport has become another of the most important sporting events in France, and the country plays host to one Formula One race each year. The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) champions hailing from France include Alain Prost, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Didier Auriol and Sebastien Loeb. Alain Prost dominated the Formula One circuits back in the 1980s and early 1990s, representing teams such as McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and Williams. France currently has four Formula One drivers.
Social sports and pastimes
Sports and hobbies are a great way to meet new people and make friends. If you are coming to live in France and have a particular sport or pastime that you love, it’s a great idea to find somewhere to participate and meet like-minded folk. This could be any of the sports already mentioned or even as simple as trying out the many pool and billiard tables found in bars across France. Not forgetting the traditional games of boules or petanque, which can be seen in church squares all over the country during the summer months. Anyone is welcome to join in, so give it a try.
Sports and hobbies are a great way to meet new people and make friends.
Wherever you are in France, there are many leisure and cultural activities for your family to enjoy. As well as visiting the beautiful countryside and coastline of France, there are a number of attractions up and down the country. There are many zoos, aquariums, water parks and other family-focused places popular with expats, tourists and French locals. When you arrive in your new French home town, you will be able to find out about the most popular local places with your new neighbours. One of the most famous family activities in France is taking a trip to Disneyland, Paris. Opened in 1992, the park is the most visited theme park in Europe and is of course part of the Walt Disney franchise, loved by children worldwide. The city of Paris, of course, is steeped in rich history and culture, home to a number of well-known monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the cathedral of Notre-Dame.
The city of Paris is steeped in rich history and culture, home to a number of well-known monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the cathedral of Notre-Dame.
Another popular location for children is the Haribo museum in Uzès in the South of France, which offers an insight into the history of sweet production. The monastery and town of Mont-Saint-Michel are always popular with families, due to its fairy-tale like appearance and the fact that it is located on a tidal island in Normandy. Children will also enjoy a visit to France Miniature in Élancourt, France – a scaled down version of around 160 major French monuments and landmarks, approximately corresponding with their real locations in the country. France Miniature is owned by Grévin & Cie, who also own Park Astérix, a theme park based on the stories of Asterix, located in Plailly, Northern France.
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