French Sport 101

Sports are an intricate part of the French lifestyle. Though many people imagine the French to be in a perpetual state of wine-drinking and baguette-eating, the more interesting truth is that French people are very active. In fact, it is more common to find a French person who practices several sports, than one who doesn’t practice any.

The French are also very proud of their teams and very nationalistic when it comes to sports. A match will unite or divide the country in a way that few other things are capable of doing. As such, it is impossible to truly understand French culture without understanding their relationships to sports. For this purpose, we give you five of the most important sports for the French.

1. Football

Known in some countries as “soccer”, football is most definitely the most important, most followed, and most played sport in the country. When it comes to local teams, the rivalries and rifts run deep, and are taken extremely seriously. When it comes to international games, however, the entire country unites behind the Blue Cock, and chants can be heard throughout cities passionately repeating “Allez le bleau!” (Go blue!). France has been qualified for almost every single World Cup Tournament, and is usually considered one of the top teams, having won the championship in 1998.

2. Cycling

Everyone is familiar with the Tour de France, one of the most important cycling tournaments in the entire world. The three-week long race is widely followed by audiences from different countries, and participating or winning is one of the biggest achievements a cyclist can dream of. Because there is an incredibly strong cycling culture in the country, it is not surprising to think that this is one of the most important sports in France.

3. Rugby

Another incredibly important sport for the French, rugby is widely followed and practiced in the country. In fact, the French team is considered to be in the top ranks of European leagues, a fact which the French are extremely proud of. Bars and pubs full up completely during matches, and, as in football, both tensions between teams, and national unity are built and reinforced in this important rite.

4. Tennis

As the second most important sport, Tennis holds a very special place in France’s heart. It is a sport that several people practice in their daily life, and that is followed widely by various audiences. One of the world’s most important tennis tournaments, the Roland Garros, is held in Paris yearly. This, as with rugby and cycling, is a source of national pride.

5. Skiing

Because of the French Alps and the French Pyrenees, skiing is the national winter sport of France. Learning to skii and going on skii trips with school, friends, and family is a rite of passage few French people never have the opportunity to go through. With incredible slopes and resorts, a skiing trip is considered the perfect vacation, and one that is often done more than once a year.