WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS IN FRANCE?

There is no denying the sports spirit of France. They are an actual powerhouse in the world of sports, and just like their diverse culture and art, they are very good at different sports.

They are renowned for their cultural heritage, impressive landmarks, and exquisite cuisine. But they are also very passionate about sports.

No matter the sport, whenever a team goes against France, they know what to expect. They are quite athletic, and most of the professional athletes and sports gurus come from France.

Therefore, we almost always expect France to end up in first position, no matter the competition. 

But their diverse sports culture led us to think about which is the best and most popular sport in France.

Well, the clear answer to this question is football, but there are a lot of things that France can offer apart from Paris Saint Germain. Let’s find out.

Biggest Sports in France

Football (Soccer)

As two-time World Cup champions in 1998 and 2018, French football (soccer) is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in France.

In addition, the French national team won the European Championship (Euros) in 1984 and 2000. With French football players like Kylian Mbappé and Paul Pogba, the team has been recruiting young fans from all around the world and is expected to remain a favorite for many years to come.

Football arrived in France in the 1800s, and since then, the country has produced some of the world’s top football players.

With fierce rivalries and thrilling matches, Ligue 1, the country’s top soccer league, is a focus point for supporters. Zinedine Zidane, a great in French soccer history, continues to inspire future generations. Today, football accounts for more than 43% of all sports fans in the country.

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France’s memorable moment occurred with their home World Cup triumph in 1998, which launched their long-lasting worldwide presence. Soccer is still an important cultural touchstone in France.

Tennis

Tennis has a long history in France, with deep-rooted traditions and a devoted fan base. Tennis is one of the most popular sports in France, having hosted one of the Grand Slams, the French Open. In France, the competition is known as Roland Garros, after the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, where it is held each year for two weeks in June.

Tennis is a sport with a long history in France. The Jeu de Paume, the forefather of all racquet sports, was originally made official by French King François I in 1527.

France’s love of tennis goes beyond the French Open, with several national and international tournaments staged throughout the year. With that said, compared to football, there aren’t that many top-tier athletes in Tennis that come from France apart from few honorable mentions.

Rugby

As a regular in the Six Nations Championships, the yearly rivalry involving France, England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales, the nation, particularly in the south, is growing in popularity.

There is also rugby league, which has ten professional teams around the country and several amateur teams in lesser categories.

Rugby, particularly in its union version, is very popular in France. It attracts both long-time fans and newbies due to its unique combination of physicality and strategy. The sport is so popular here that you can play your own Fantasy Career. Learn more about the French rugby team here. 

The biggest rugby competition is despised as France’s premier rugby league, featuring the country’s elite clubs competing for the coveted title. Serge Blanco, regarded as one of the best fullbacks in rugby history, still captivates fans with his exceptional skills.

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Basketball

France has the most NBA players of any foreign country (the United States and Canada are the other two NBA countries). Unfortunately, France does not have at least one team competing in the EuroLeague in Europe.

The National team, on the other hand, is a fierce competitor. The latest two major victories were against Team USA in the World Cup quarter-finals in 2019 and during the Olympic Games in 2022 in Tokyo.

France’s top-tier basketball league, the LNB Pro A, produces entertaining performances and high-level play. Tony Parker, an NBA champion and national icon, has helped to increase the popularity of French basketball.

Handball

Handball is a popular sport in France, noted for its exciting action and thrilling events that go to the last second.

The Lidl Starligue is France’s highest handball league, with top clubs competing for national glory. Nikola Karabatic, widely considered one of the world’s top players, is French and has brought the country countless trophies.

France’s national team has had considerable success, including World Championship and Olympic gold medals. Handball’s place in French sports culture is unwavering, with a devoted fan base and a developing talent pool.

It is estimated that handball came to France in the 1930s and since then they’ve dominated the international league. There are around 500,000 handball players in France, with Nikola Karabatic being one of the most popular, even though he doesn’t really come from France.