French Sports

Often when we think of French sports, we think of cheering crowds at a football game. Of course, this makes sense, as football is the most watched sport in France. But we might also envision the French Open, one of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments, played in Paris. Or perhaps we see the cyclists, speeding through the beautiful countryside in the Tour de France. The French sailing team is also world class and take part in major events such as the America’s Cup.
On a local level you will see the men playing petanque in Nice, a game similar to boules or bocce, where the players throw small balls on the playing area attempting to get nearest to the first ball thrown. Of course to some people, French sports might mean Grand Prix racing (which was invented in France in 1946) rugby or even basketball. Sports are an important facet of French society; the modern-day Olympics began in France in 1894.
While football, called ‘Le Foot’ for short, has the most spectators, there are many sports both watched and participated in by the French. Tennis is quite popular, with a large numbers of players. France annually hosts one of the Grand Slam tournaments, the French Open.
The three-week long Tour de France takes place every July with contenders from across the world. The American rider Lance Armstrong brought worldwide attention to the sport with his multiple wins.
The French national Handball team won the 2008 tournament in the Olympic Games; they are currently the World Champions. Handball has a large audience, perhaps due to its world-class status.