I have compiled the 2019 membership figures from the official website of all official sports federations and rounded the figures. Just to give you an order, the population of France is around 67 million.
Let’s start with list of the most popular sports in France!
2 200 000 members with 180 000 female members
On the other hand, soccer (sorry, I don’t want to use the term soccer) is primarily a men’s sport in the United States, not just in France. The last 2019 Women’s World Cup was hosted by France and the public and media loved this competition. This event would help develop the sport into the women’s section in the future.
The national league in France is Ligue 1 and is considered to be the fifth best league in Europe. France won the World Cup for the first time in 1998 against Brazil when the country was the host country. Recently, they won the 2018 World Cup in Russia against Croatia twenty years later. Between these two victories, the French men’s team lost the final of the 2006 World Cup against Italy. All French people will never forget Frenchman Zinedine Zidane’s famous header against Materazzi. France also lost the 2016 European Cup to Portugal and France hosted the competition this year. If you want to know more about football, read my articles about football in France.
France hosts one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world in Paris: Roland Garros. I don’t know if a Frenchman will win again one day and Facebook pages like “La Fédération de Loose” tease many French tennis men and women that they are bad.
Sincerely, Yannick Noah’s son plays in the NBA championship: Joakim Noah. France has many good tennis players, but none of them are in the top 5 in the world, both men and women. France have won the men’s Davis Cup ten times and most recently in 2017. The France women’s team won the Fed Cup in 2019.. not bad
France is renowned for horse breeding, particularly in Normandy and the Forez. The country hosts prestigious horse races such as the Arcs de Triomphe in Paris at the Longchamp racecourse or the Prize Jockey Club race in Chantilly.
France is the foreign country with the most players in the NBA league (in the NBA there are the United States and Canada). Unfortunately, France in Europe does not have at least one team participating in the EuroLeague.
On the other hand, the national team is a really competitive team. The last two major successes were the defeat of the American team in the 2019 World Cup in the quarter-finals and in the group stage at the Tokyo 2022 Olympics.
France had and still has great athletes in this sport. David Douillet was one of the best in the difficult category (2 times Olympic champion / 4 times world champion / 1 time European champion).
At the moment, the French athlete Teddy Riner impresses with all the sports titles he has won and could win in the future (2x Olympic Champion / 10x World Champion / 5x European Champion).
Here we are talking about a sport in France where France is probably the best country of the last twenty years competing mainly with the Nordic countries of Europe. This team is a six-time world champion, a three-time Olympic champion and a three-time European champion.
Prior to 1995, the men’s national team did not win any trophies. The women’s national team has won the World Cup twice and the European Cup once
Rugby in France is primarily a popular sport among men. Compared to other sports in France, rugby takes place mainly in the south of France plus Paris. French teams play in the competition called Top 14 and are among the best European teams, sometimes winning the EuroCup and the Hcup (ASM Clermont, Stade Toulousain, RCT Rugby Club Toulonnais).
As for the national team, they are simply unpredictable, they can beat the best rugby nations like the All Blacks (New Zealand) and lose to weaker nations like Italy. The French rugby team’s best performance was reaching the World Cup final three times in 1987, 1999 and 2011.
Golf was first an official competition during the 1900 Olympic Games in France. It took place on the Compiègne golf course (near the city of Paris). France had great players like Arnaud Massy, Jean Van de Velde, Grégory Bourdy and Karine Icher.
Thanks to expeditions to Canada with Jacques Cartier, Amerindian canoes were imported into Europe. Recreational practice did not develop in Europe until the middle of the 19th century. France was the ideal place for the development of this sport because the country is crossed by many rivers and many mountains such as the Alps or the Pyrenees.
The best French athlete in this sport was Tony Estanguet, triple Olympic champion. It is now working to host the 2024 Paris Olympics.
These sports in France appeared in the 19th century under the influence of British and foreign practices. The sport also made its debut at the 1900 Olympics in France. Since 1908, sailing has never ceased to be part of the Olympic Games, even if its program has evolved a lot according to the popularity of the different boats.
Apart from the Olympic Games, some famous sailing races start in France like the Route du Rhum or the Vendée Globe starting from Vendée (as the name suggests).