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Oh, sweet, romantic Paris: a city that truly has it all. One minute you are enjoying a cruise along the Seine River and the next you are wrapped in an intense friendly match of tennis. Indeed, Paris sports abound, and there is something for everyone. So take a break from all those museums in Paris and go dabble in some sport. It will truly make that Parisian vacation all the more special.
Tennis in Paris
Tennis is one of the most popular sports in Paris and in the country of France. Tennis courts and tennis clubs saturate the city of Paris and it is quite possibly the country’s national sport. The origin of the game can be traced back to 12th century France when players used the palm of their hands to hit the ball. The sport became especially popular during medieval times and tennis court construction started to boom; by the 17th century Paris already had 200 courts. A good amount of Parisians play tennis and the sport is embedded in the culture of the city. The French Open is Paris’ most notable professional tennis event. It is played every year in late May; hundreds of thousands attend and people are over the world tune in to their televisions to watch.
Tour de France
This competition is the most important and most fierce bike race on the planet Earth. It began in 1903, and it usually is hosted at the end of June and early July. The route of the race covers a distance of nearly 3.500 kilometers, beginning in the French countryside and ending in the streets of Paris. This race has become firmly implanted in the culture of France and Paris, as it puts the various regions of France and the Paris finish at Champs-Elysees in the world spotlight. Henri Desgrange first organized the tour and followed the race until he died in 1940. World War II interrupted Le Tour de France for a few years, but afterwards it quickly regained its fame. Lance Armstrong has the most Tour de France wins, claiming the crown seven times in a row between 1995 and 2005. Four riders have claimed the crown four times, including the famous Bernard Hinault. The race features flat stages, medium mountain stages and high mountain stages. Every year tens of thousands devoted Parisian fans wait in the city for the grand finale. Le Tour de France has absolutely become one of France and Paris’ most coveted events.
Pro-Football in Paris
The Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, or Paris S.G., is Paris’ best pro-football team. Having begun in 1970, the club has won numerous league titles and French Cups as well as three League Cups and two Champions Trophies. Football fans in Paris are die-hard Paris S.G. supporters and are affectionately called “Parisiens”. In 1994, the club was named the World’s Best Football Club by IFFHS. The colors and crest of Paris S.G. are especially symbolic of the culture of Paris. It consists of a red Eiffel Tower and Louis XIV’s royal cradle between the pillars of the tower; it has a blue background with white outlining the outer edging. The team has had its fair share of famous French football players like Paul Le Guen and Jean Djorkaeff. Currently the team plays at Parc des Princes, the biggest of Paris’ football stadiums with a capacity of nearly 49,000.
Rugby in Paris
Rugby in Paris is another popular sport played by Parisians and throughout France. Many pick-up games can be seen in fields and parks throughout Paris. Established in 1883, the Stade Francais is Paris’ professional rugby club and the team makes its home at Stade Jean-Bouin, one of Paris’ most known multi-purpose stadiums. The name, logo and colors of the team are particularly interesting. The logo is red, blue and white, with the initials of the team, “SF”, stitched in red in the top center. The team has won many championships over the years and currently has its fair share of famous rivalries. Be sure to check out a game if you are an avid rugby fan visiting Paris.
Other Sports in Paris
There are a plethora of sports and activities in Paris. And this speaks to the active nature of the Parisian people and culture. Basketball in Paris is something that is gaining in popularity and can be enjoyed in a number of places. The annual Paris International Marathon may not be as well known as races like the Boston Marathon but is a truly great event nonetheless. Horse racing is another sport of distinguished popularity among Parisians. No matter what sport you favor, this city should have it. Get out and enjoy the Parisian sport culture on your next Paris vacation.