Tap to Read ➤

Sports Played in France

Abhijit Naik Mar 9, 2020
With sporting events like the Tour de France and Roland-Garros to its credit, the diversity in the world of sports in France is unfathomable. And cycling and tennis, mind you, are just two names in the impressive list of sports played in this European nation.

Did You Know?

The Tour de France has been held annually since its inception back in 1903. The only two occasions when it was shelved was during the two World Wars.
France has become a major player at the international level in various sporting disciplines, right from football to motor sports. Some of the world's most prestigious sporting events are held in this European nation, which is otherwise famous for wine, food, cinema, and the Eiffel Tower.

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 video.

The Tour de France, French Open, Andros Trophy, Six Nations Rugby, and so on.
The list of sporting events that are held in France can be best described as 'impressive', which is why perhaps the people here are so enthusiastic when it comes to sports. They don't just restrict themselves to competitive sports, like football and rugby, but also indulge in non-competitive sports, such as parkour.


Also known as association football or soccer, football is the most popular sport in France. Its rich tradition can be traced back to 1872, when it was introduced by English sailors in the port city of Le Havre.
Over the course of time, football replaced rugby as the country's most popular sport. The Olympic Gold that France bagged in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics came as a major boost.
The French national football team created history on July 12, 1998, when they defeated Brazil 3 - 0 to win their maiden World Cup. Besides the World Cup, they also have two European Championships to their credit.
Famous soccer players hailing from France are Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Eric Cantona, Lilian Thuram, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Laurent Blanc, and Fabien Barthez.
The Ligue 1 is the domestic football league of France. Other tournaments of repute include Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, and the Trophée des champions, which is played between the winners of Ligue 1 and Coupe de France.
Olympique de Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, AJ Auxerre, Bordeaux & Olympique Lyonnais are some of the prominent names in the domestic circuit. While several teams have made it to the UEFA Champions League, only Olympique de Marseille has won the same; a feat they pulled off in 1992 - 1993. Of late, football has become the most watched sport in the country.


If any sport can give football a run for its money in southern France, it is rugby. The sport was introduced by the British in the 1870s. Interestingly, France won the Olympic Gold for rugby when it was introduced in the Olympics in 1900.
The French rugby team reached the finals of the Rugby World Cup in 1987, 1999, and 2011, but failed to capitalize on these opportunities. They have won the annual Six Nations Championship as many as 16 times.
At the domestic level, the major event is the Top 14, wherein 14 clubs fight for the coveted trophy.


Cycling got a major boost in France with the introduction of Le Tour de France in 1903. Spanning a period of three weeks in the month of July every year, cyclists cover a distance of 2,200 miles to win this prestigious competition.
The inaugural Tour de France (1903) was won by French cyclist, Maurice Garin. While the course is changed every year, the Champs-Élysées avenue has been chosen as the finishing point since 1975.
French cyclists have won the race on as many as 36 occasions, with Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault winning the race five times each―the record for the most titles. Another Frenchman, Louison Bobet won it thrice. American cyclist, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France on seven occasions, but was stripped of his titles in October 2012 following the infamous doping controversy.

Motor Sport

In recent years, motor sport has become one of the most important sporting events in France.
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) champions hailing from France include Alain Prost (F1), Jean-Louis Schlesser (WSC), Didier Auriol (WRC), and Sébastien Loeb (WRC). France hosts one Formula 1 race every year. Also, France is home to F1 Constructors' Champions like Matra, Automobiles Martini, and Renault.
French racer, Alain Prost dominated the Formula 1 circuits in the 80s and early 90s. Representing teams like McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, and Williams, Prost won four F1 Championships during this period. Yvan Muller is another famous French racer, with three World Touring Car Championships to his credit.
An annual ice racing championship, the Andros Trophy is held in France at the end of the year. So is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


Tennis is a popular sport in the urban areas of the country. The French Open, also known as the Les Internationaux de France de Tennis, Roland-Garros, is held here between mid-May and early June. It is one of the four Grand Slams in tennis and is played on clay.
Other tournaments that are held in France include Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon, Open Gaz de France, Open de Moselle, and Paris Masters. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Amélie Mauresmo, and Richard Gasquet are famous French tennis players in the international arena.


With the likes of Tony Parker,Joakim Noah,and Nicolas Batum making their presence felt in the NBA, basketball has slowly made inroads in France. Winning the EuroBasket 2013 also contributed to the popularity of this sport.
The women's national team has also done its bit,winning the European Championship twice. At the domestic level, the Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) is the premier basketball league in France, while ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne is the most-successful team winning it on 17 occasions.


Pulling off a double―winning the Olympic Gold and European Championship―has helped in making handball one of the most popular sports in France.
The French national team has also won the World Handball Championships on four occasions. At the domestic level, Montpellier Agglomération Handball has been the most successful team, having won as many as 13 titles till date.


With some of the most famous snow-clad mountains to its credit, it is least surprising that skiing is quite popular in France.
World Championships, Winter Olympics, Alpine Skiing World Championships; French men and women have been winning skiing competitions across the globe. Some of the famous names in the world of skiing include Émile Allais, Marielle Goitschel, Guy Périllat, Jason Lamy-Chappuis, and from the more recent lot, Martin Fourcade.


Pétanque Sport is the name given to the competitive version of Pétanque―a sport which is mostly played in summer in France.
Wherein players are supposed to stand with both their feet in the starting circle and throw hollow metal balls as close to the cochonnet―a small wooden ball―as possible. Interestingly, Pétanque Sport is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
At the local level, Pétanque is played by an estimated 17 million people in the France; in southern France in particular.


We have parkour, which was developed in France itself, wherein the practitioner is expected to reach from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible.
A non-competitive sport, parkour involves running and crossing obstacle courses by jumping, swinging, rolling, etc. Interestingly, parkour doesn't just stress on efficiency, but also gives equal importance to avoiding injuries.
Besides these, there are several other sports which are slowly becoming popular in France. These include the likes of field hockey, ice hockey, sailing, golf, judo, and cricket. In fact, France boasts of being one of the only two teams that have ever played cricket at the Olympics; a feat they achieved when they took on England in the 1900 Summer Olympics.