Sports is a popular pastime in France with football, judo, tennis and basketball dominating the sporting arenas. France also involves itself in grand racing car events, bicycle racing also making its presence felt in the world of tennis and martial arts.
The most popular sports is soccer but the French have a known taste for speed and endurance in car and bicycle racing, grace and precision in tennis and soccer, as well as the rough and tumble spectacle offered in the two rugby styles of League and Union
Bicycle racing – The Grands Tours of France are renowned worldwide as being the oldest and most prestigious. One of them, the Tour de France is the world’s most famous cycling event.
Motor car racing – Endurance racing in sleek and fact sports cars is a test to the limit for both driver and car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race is rated as the most famous held on the speed track of Sarthe.
Tennis tournaments – The Grand Slam tennis tournaments are a spectacle to watch on the French turf. One of the four Grand Slam tournaments known as the French Open is played and so is the Paris Masters.
Olympic Games – A French aristocrat by the name of Pierre de Coubertin was the inventor of the modern Olympic Games by his enthused call for a revival of the Games at the end of the 19th century. The hosting of the first Games went to Greece as a fitting gesture for the landwhere the Games were born. France hosted the second Games in 1900 and became the first home for the International Olympic Committee. Since then, France has hosted 4 Olympic Games, with one again in Paris in 1924 and 3 Winter Olympics in 1924 (Chamonix); another in 1968 (Greoble) and the third Games in 1992 (Albertville)
Soccer – This is the favourite sport of the French crowds in which team members don the blue shirts and tri-colour shorts during matches toting their patriotism. The national soccer team gained immense success and popularity starting in the 21st century by winning the FIFA World Cup in 1998, a second place in the same series in 2006 and 2 European Championship victories in 1984 and 2000. The Ligue 1 is the country’s top national competition.
Rugby Union – This is another popular sports with a huge following especially in the Paris area and south western France. The national rugby team has gathered an impressive array of victories winning 16 of the Six Nations Championship series. It took part in Every Rugby World Cup; it reached the semi-finals 6 times and became a finalist in 3 games in the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby League – The southern crowds of spectators adore this variance of rugby football. Venues are found mainly in the cities of Perpignan and Toulouse. The topmost league for the competition in Europe is the Super League but for local professional competition, the Elite One Championship is the league to follow.
Basketball – Basketball has taken a strong hold on the sports minded people of France and over the past 20 years the country has engendered teams now rated as of elite world class. The national side won the FIBA Euro Basket in 2011 outstripping its performance over the past 60 years. To complement the feat, the side also won 2 Olympic Silver Medals in 1948 and 2000.
Sailing – Singlehanded and shorthanded sailing is the favourite of the French when it comes to battling against the winds and waves of the Atlantic and the world’s oceans. The zenith of the sport is embodied in the Vendee Globe which is a singlehanded ocean challenge around the world. The grueling trip begins off the French Atlantic coast every 4 years. To sustain the suspense and excitement are 3 sailing competitions across the Atlantic Ocean – the Mini Transat 6.50; the Tour de France Voile and the Route du Rhum.
French people also enjoy a variety of hobbies on a regular basis. There is skiing in the high slopes of the Pyrenees and Alps; fencing is a very popular form of self -defense which is widely practiced. Another very popular pastime is kite surfing mainly above and along the coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Going to the theatres and listening or playing music as well as dancing are all popular hobbies. For the bodily active interested in physical self-defense, there is the « parkour, » a variant of martial art which originated from France.