History of sport in France

It’s now easy to say that in France, as in many other countries, sport plays a major role. However, we want to delve into the history of French sports and tell a little about how its development began.

The history of sports in the country begins to develop rapidly in the 19th century. This period, lasting until the war of 1914, is marked by the emergence of Olympism. It was only after the 1918 armistice that French sport began to move towards modernity with the collapse of the USFSA, which gave rise to the current unisport federations.

However, the urgency of rebuilding the nation overshadowed this interest until 1960, when the failure of the French at the Rome Olympics led to a violent awakening. A major sports building program is underway, federations are given civil service positions, and leadership training is structured by law in 1963, and then state certifications for sports teachers are established.

French cities have repeatedly become the capitals of the Olympic Games. Paris hosted the Games of the II Olympiad (1900) and the Games of the VIII Olympiad (1924).

Important in the context of this study is the fact that Paris will also become the venue for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad (2024), this year the Olympic community will celebrate the anniversary date – the 130th anniversary of the historic Congress, which took place on the initiative of P. de Coubertin at the Paris Sorbonne, and marked the beginning of the history of the modern Olympic Games.

It’s also important that the Olympic Winter Games were held in the country three times.

Sport in France today

And now a little about the present. The most successful summer Olympic sports that are most popular with the French are cycling, handball, judo, tennis, weightlifting, fencing, football. Among the winter sports most popular among the French, skiing and figure skating can be noted. As noted above, representatives of the country have taken part in almost all the Olympic Games since their inception.

We’ll tell you a little about popular sports among the French.


Football is the most popular sport in the country. As of 2010, country had 2,107,924 licensed engravings. Especially the popularity of football in France and its ethnicity and regional awareness – football is the number one sport among the numerical groups of emigrants.

Liga 1 is a French professional league for football clubs. Won as the greatest division of the French football league system.


Rugby isn’t too far behind football in popularity, but it has certain regional characteristics. The french have the strongest club championship in the northern hemisphere, the highest division of which is the TOP-14, among the most prestigious rugby leagues in the world. The French teams are the most financially powerful and the championship enjoys a great support from the fans.


Fencing is a fairly common and ancient sport in France. On November 9, 1913, in Paris, representatives of the national federations of Belgium, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Hungary, France, Switzerland and the Czech Rigel Fencing Club announced the creation of the International Fencing Federation (IFF). Currently, fencing is the most successful sport for the country at the Olympic Games: it has brought the country a total of 115 medals.

Naturally, this isn’t a complete list of popular sports in the country. You can talk about them for a long, long time.

The Fédération de la Fame de France also honors the best French champions every year through a ceremony of sport. Among the eight, seven names have already been inscribed on the CNOSF Wall of Fame, where track and field athletics, fencing, skiing and cycling are especially shown.

French Champions

Films are made about the famous champions of the French teams, books and articles are written and, of course, they are constantly discussed. A vivid example of the understanding of the sports experience of French athletes is the series directed by Rachid Bounchareb called Champions de France.

Champions de France is a series of 45 two-minute portrait films by Rachid Bouchareb and Pascal Blanchard. It was broadcast on the France Télévisions1 Group channels from June 6, 2015 to June 11, 2016. It follows the Brothers in Arms series (2014-2015) by the same authors.

The series is presented in the form of a filmic “memory cycle”: forty-five portraits of champions and forty-five voice-comments of recognized personalities. It strives to make known to a wide audience the careers of great sports figures from immigration and overseas, but also exceptional moments such as the 1900 Olympic Games, the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, the epic of 1958, Euro 1984 or the victory of 1998.

This history of sport begins at the end of the 19th century with champions from Asia, Africa, North Africa, Polynesia, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean as well as from all over Europe or the Americas who came to France, and continues today with the new generation resulting from the various migratory flows, overseas diversities and colonial history, a major specificity of the French teams and French sport.

Since this film is about many famous champions of the country, we’ll talk about some of them in separate articles.