We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.ย Learn more.

Ever wondered what fuels the passion of France?

It’s more than just wine, cheese, and romance!

Soccer may be the nation’s favorite, but there’s a diverse range of sports that captivate the French.

Uncover the top 11 most popular sports in France in our list below.

Most Popular Sports in France:

  1. Soccer
  2. Tennis
  3. Rugby
  4. Basketball
  5. Handball
  6. Athletics
  7. Judo
  8. Pรฉtanque
  9. Swimming
  10. Sailing
  11. Cycling

#1 Soccer

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Late 1800s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Zinedine Zidane (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 2 Million

Soccer, or football, holds a special place in French hearts. Dominating the sports scene in France, it unites people from all walks of life.

Ligue 1, the country’s top soccer league, is a focal point for fans, with heated rivalries and exciting matches. Zinedine Zidane, a legendary figure in French soccer history, continues to inspire generations of players.

France’s unforgettable moment came with their 1998 World Cup victory on home soil, kickstarting their lasting international presence. Soccer remains an essential cultural touchstone in France.

#2 Tennis

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Late 1800s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Suzanne Lenglen (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 1.2 Million

Tennis has a long-standing history in France, with deep-rooted traditions and a passionate following.

The French Open, held at the iconic Roland Garros, is one of the four prestigious Grand Slam tournaments, drawing attention from around the world. Suzanne Lenglen, a pioneering figure in women’s tennis, showcased an unparalleled mastery of the sport.

France’s devotion to tennis extends beyond the French Open, with numerous national and international events held throughout the year. Its cultural significance remains unshaken, inspiring future generations of talent.

#3 Rugby

Rugby Union
  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Late 1800s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Serge Blanco (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 500,000

Rugby, primarily in its union form, enjoys widespread popularity across France. Revered for its blend of physicality and strategy, it entices avid fans and newcomers alike.

The Top 14 serves 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.

France’s rugby enthusiasm carries over to international events, such as the Six Nations Championship and the Rugby World Cup. The sport upholds a strong cultural presence within the nation.

#4 Basketball

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Tony Parker (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 600,000

Basketball has garnered considerable popularity in France through the years, appealing to fans of all ages.

The LNB Pro A, France’s top-tier basketball league, delivers thrilling performance and high-level competition. Tony Parker, an NBA champion and national hero, raised the profile of French basketball with his remarkable achievements.

Aside from domestic leagues, French basketball lovers also enjoy international events such as the EuroLeague and the NBA. The sport’s cultural influence in France continues to grow, fostering new talent and inspiring fans.

#5 Handball

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: 1930s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Nikola Karabatic (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 500,000

Handball is a highly popular sport in France, known for its adrenaline-pumping gameplay and engaging matches.

The Lidl Starligue represents France’s elite handball league where top clubs compete for national glory. Nikola Karabatic, widely regarded as one of the world’s best players, hails from France and has brought numerous titles to the country.

France’s national team has enjoyed tremendous success, including multiple World Championship titles and Olympic golds. Handball’s prominence in French sports culture remains steadfast, with a passionate fan base and growing talent pool.

#6 Athletics

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Ancient Times
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Athlete from France: Marie-Josรฉ Pรฉrec (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in France: 3 Million

Athletics, the foundation of numerous sports events, has a rich history in France and plays an integral role in the nation’s sporting tradition.

France boasts many world champions and Olympic medalists, with Marie-Josรฉ Pรฉrec among the most celebrated athletes. The Meeting de Paris, part of the Diamond League circuit, showcases the best in global athletics and draws significant attention within the country.

With a commitment to nurturing talent and hosting top-tier competitions, France’s athletics scene continues to make strides in achieving global recognition.

#7 Judo

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Judoka from France: Teddy Riner (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Judoka in France: 600,000

Judo has become an integral part of French sports culture, with a burgeoning community and numerous achievements on the international stage.

The French Judo Championship showcases the nation’s best judokas, who inspire martial arts enthusiasts. Teddy Riner, a ten-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, has elevated French judo’s global profile.

France’s commitment to judo education and development is evident in clubs and schools across the nation, fostering a deep appreciation for the sport’s principles and techniques.

#8 Pรฉtanque

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Invention in France: 1907
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from France: Marco Foyot (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in France: 17 Million

Pรฉtanque, an iconic French pastime, is both a competitive sport and a leisurely activity enjoyed by millions.

Originating in southern France, pรฉtanque tournaments and leagues have spread throughout the country. The World Championships of Pรฉtanque is an international event where France consistently fares well, with Marco Foyot being one of the sport’s most successful players.

Pรฉtanque’s cultural significance in France is evident in the countless games played among friends and families. It remains not only a social bonding activity but also a symbol of French tradition and heritage.

#9 Swimming

Open water swimming
  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Late 1800s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Swimmer from France: Alain Bernard (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Swimmers in France: 10 Million

Swimming is a beloved sport in France, both as a recreational activity and a competitive endeavor.

National and international swimming events draw significant viewership in France, with major competitions such as the French Swimming Championships and the Olympics garnering interest. Alain Bernard, an Olympic and world champion, is one of the most iconic French swimmers in history.

Swimming holds an important place in French culture, with numerous facilities across the nation dedicated to the sport. As an accessible and rewarding activity, it continues to inspire people of all ages to dive in.

#10 Sailing

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Ancient Times
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Sailor from France: Franรงois Gabart (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Sailing Enthusiasts in France: 4 Million

Sailing in France is a popular sport and pastime, thanks to the country’s extensive coastline and numerous sailing clubs.

From amateur races to high-profile events like the Vendรฉe Globe and the Route du Rhum, sailing in France draws massive interest. Franรงois Gabart, a world-record holder and winner of numerous solo races, is a prominent sailor in the country.

France’s sailing passion extends beyond racing, with recreational sailing and boating offering a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the coastlines. The sport’s cultural significance in France is as enduring as the sea it embraces.

#11 Cycling

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in France: Late 1800s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Cyclist from France: Bernard Hinault (French)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Cycling Enthusiasts in France: 10 Million

Cycling in France is incredibly popular, both as a sport and a leisurely activity, with numerous professional and amateur events held across the nation.

The Tour de France is undoubtedly the most famous and prestigious cycling race worldwide, covering the scenic and challenging French landscape. Bernard Hinault, a five-time winner of the Tour de France, is but one of the many legendary cyclists in French history.

Cycling’s cultural importance within France is unquestionable, as it promotes health, competition, and an appreciation for the country’s breathtaking landscapes.


What is the most popular sport in France?

Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport in France, deeply rooted in the nation’s culture and attracting a vast following, with millions participating and supporting teams across all levels.

What is the national sport of France?

The national sport of France is soccer (football), as it occupies a central position in the country’s cultural and sporting landscape, enjoying widespread support and admiration from fans.

What are the most watched sports in France?

The most watched sports in France are soccer (football), rugby, tennis, handball, cycling, and basketball, each garnering notable viewership and passionate fanbases throughout the country.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning โ€˜realโ€™ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments