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Popular French sports

popular french sports

Sports bind us together as a community. It ignites the patriotic and proud side of an individual towards his country.

In France, the popularity of sports is not limited to one particular game. They spread over a wide variety of games owing to their rich sporting history.


Effect of sports in France

Every time we talk about the French culture, we gravitate towards its breathtaking tourist spots, fine wine, salivating pastries, dashing style, and magnificent artworks.

However, it would be unfair to exclude the French sports especially when it is widely celebrated and enjoyed in France.

Sports are highly popular in France. They host many remarkable sporting events every year. They have a nationwide daily newspaper called L’Équipe devoted only to sports.

The sports content isn’t restricted to newspapers alone but it goes further beyond that with the most anticipating and interesting radio channel, RMC (Radio Monte Carlo). It is one of the most tuned into sports radio stations with over a million listeners.

Sports’ effect on the French culture is said to grow in the foreseeable future.

effects of sports in france

French sports

It’s time to enlighten ourselves with the most loved and popular French sports of all time.

1. Football

Football is the most commonly viewed and followed sport among the French. The French Football Federation popularly known as the FFF is the governing body of all the football teams in France.

The FFF oversees all aspects of the game. They supervise and train the players throughout France. The French national football team which is also colloquially known as “Les Bleus” is the national football team in France.

They are the reigning champions who won the FIFA world cup for the second time in 2018. They have also won the FIFA confederations cup and UEFA European championships twice.

The French are also fond of the football league system which involves a series of Football competitions amongst the different French football clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, AS Monaco, Saint-Étienne, etc. The most popular French football league would be the Ligue 1 Uber Eats.

French vocabularies in football:

  1. Le But – goal
  2. Le coup franc– Free kick
  3. Botter – to kick
  4. L’hors jeu – off-side
  5. La faute – fowl
  6. La carton jaune – Yellow card
  7. La carton rouge – Red card
  8. la remplaçant – substitute
  9. La penalty– penalty
  10. Marquer un but – Score a goal


2. Rugby

Rugby is a game that exhibits strength and toughness. A team sport that is lived and breathed in the south of France especially in regions such as Toulouse, Montpellier, etc.

Top 14 and Pro D2 are the two most important Rugby competitions in France. The top two teams in Pro D2 get promoted to the Top 14 at the end of the competition. Top 14 is a national league competition that includes 14 teams and consists of 26 games per season.

You can also follow all the latest Rugby news and updates with Midi Olympique, a newspaper that provides all the information about Rugby.

French vocabularies in Rugby:

  1. Un joueur – a player
  2. Une touche – a lineput
  3. Un sifflet– a whistle
  4. Un casque – a helmet
  5. Un arbitre–  a refree
  6. Une mêlée– a scrum
  7. Un plaquage – tackle
  8. Un maillot– jersey
  9. Les protèges-tibias– shin guards
  10. Un essai – a try


3. Cycling

From professionals to amateurs, everyone rides a cycle around France for pleasure. Tour de France which is also known as “La Grand Boucle” is the biggest cycling event that takes place every year.

It is an event that lasts for three weeks traversing across the country and finishing on the  Champs-Élyséesin Paris. It is comprised of 20 professional teams who race for a total distance of approximately 3600 km.

With beautiful scenery and picture-perfect views, the cycling culture is an effective way to know the city in and around.

French vocabularies in cycling:

  1. Un coureur/un cycliste – a rider/ cyclist
  2. La cadence pedaling rhythm
  3. Une crevaison – puncture
  4. Un pneu crevé – a flat tire
  5. Une roue – a wheel
  6. Un pneu – a tire
  7. Une course – race
  8. Une piste – track
  9. Un parcours – course/ route
  10. Un poursuivant – chaser


4. Tennis

Tennis is a popular sport in France and is highly appreciated among the young generation. The French Open, one of the 4 events in the Grand slam is a major event that is held for two weeks in France.

It takes place at the Roland- Garros stadium which was built in memory of the French World War 1 pilot and Tennis fan, Roland Garros.

The clay surface at the Roland-Garros stadium is the best way to learn Tennis. It slows down the ball and endures the game for a long time teaching us patience and perseverance. The French also specializes in Tennis-themed vacations for tourists.

French vocabularies in Tennis:

  1. Un Grand Chelem – Grand slam
  2. Simple messieurs – men’s singles
  3. Simple dames– women’s singles
  4. Double messieurs – men’s doubles
  5. Double dames – women’s doubles
  6. Le serveur – server
  7. Un court de terre battue – clay court
  8. La ligne de service – service line
  9. La raquette – raquet
  10. Le filet – net


5. Pétanque

A sport that is unique and special to the French. Pétanque is a traditional sport wherein the objective is to throw metal balls towards a small wooden target ball which is called the jack or le but in French.

In France, this game is more than just a sport and is played at the regional, national, and international levels. It is often referred to as the game of Boules and shares few similarities to British lawn bowling.

One of the best things about Pétanque is the fact that it is open to all ages and doesn’t require any heavy preparations before the game. This game can be regarded as a favorite pastime amongst the retired men.

French vocabularies in Pétanque :

  1. Un boulodrome – a playground suitable for the game of boules( a dirty terrain)
  2. La boule – metal ball
  3. Le Cochon – name for the small target ball
  4. Un mètre – measuring tape
  5. Une mène–  means the end of a round


6. Handball

Handball is the 6th most practiced sport in France. It is a fast-paced game that involves two teams of seven players trying to throw a ball into the goal.

France has been really successful with Handball by winning four times in the World Men’s Handball Championship. The women’s team has also won the world champions in 2017 and secured a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics.

French vocabularies in Handball:

  1. Un handballeur, une handballeuse – a handballl player
  2. Lancer – to throw
  3. Un terrain – a court
  4. Le rebond – rebound
  5. Gardien de but – Goalie


7. Judo

This ancestral martial art is a combination of discipline, respect and, self-control. Though it was originated in Japan, people in France practice it more. France has won 16 gold medals in Judo.

It is an attractive sport amongst the parents for all the values it holds. About 10% of the children in France are encouraged to be a part of the Judo Federation to inculcate all the essential values at a young age.

French vocabulary in Judo:

  1. Les arts martiaux– martial arts
  2. Les sports de combat-combat sports
  3. La centure– belt
  4. Le protège-tête– guard
  5. La chute – fall


8. Horse riding

The popularity list would be incomplete without the inclusion of Horse riding. France is known for its renowned breeding sectors with over 20 different breeds including Selle Français.

France organizes the largest number of events and competitions every year. The Generali French Open and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup event in La Baule is the most popular Equestrian competition.

French vocabulary in Horse riding:

  1. L’équitation– Horseback riding
  2. La Selle – saddle
  3. Un fer à cheval – horse shoe
  4. Hennir – to neigh
  5. Trotter – to trot

horse riding

Know your sport

I hope this cultural dive enables you to understand the importance of sports in the development of an individual and his country. Considering all the above sports, it is very clear that the French loves to participate in various activities and takes immense pride in their achievements and success.

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