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Fitness and Sport for Expats in France

Submitted: October 2013

When you think of France, images of fine food and world-renowned art come to mind. However a variety of sports and hobbies also make up French culture. Whether you are a spectator or a fitness enthusiast, France offers many different options.

It is worth noting that if you would like to participate in team sports in France, you are required by law to obtain a sporting license, which attests to your medical suitability to participate in the Sport. France has a governing body for most forms of organised sport, usually entitled Fédération Francaise de [activity name]. If for example, you are interested in hiking, a good place to start would be the https://www.ffrandonnee.fr/ which is the official website for the Fédération Francaise de Randonné (French Federation of Hiking). There you will find links to local clubs, events and information on obtaining the license.

Like most of Europe, football is very popular in France.  The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) is the governing body that runs the major professional football leagues in France.  The teams of the club are grouped into two divisions: Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.  To see if your town has a club in either division, visit the website https://www.lfp.fr/. The Coup de La Ligue is a knockout competition organized by the LFP. Only teams in the top football division can participate. Most towns have their local football clubs that villagers support.

Rugby is almost as popular as football and it is not unusual to see hoards of people flock to bars to watch “Les Bleus” compete in Rugby’s Six Nations Championships which are held annually. As the competitions title suggests, Six Nations participate annually in this event: France, England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.  The national team also takes place in the Rugby World Cup, which takes place every four years.

The Tour de France might have inspired you to take up cycling. Cycling need not be as grueling as the 3404 km that make up the 21 stages of the Tour de France. France is the ideal country to enjoy a scenic and leisurely bike ride. It is common to see individuals or families out cycling on the roads and cycle ways. Most roads are open to cyclists. Cycling is generally safe as there are usually lanes dedicated solely to cyclists. If you would like to plan your route according to your location visit the website https://www.viamichelin.fr/.  If you’re in Paris and would like to see the city on two wheels, then Vélib is a bicycle-sharing system in Paris where you can rent a bike. Their website https://www.velib.paris.fr/ provides details of the service.

Maybe you’ve been considering taking up yoga; France is the perfect place to awaken your inner yogi.  This need not be an expensive undertaking. Karma yoga uses the concept of selfless action as way to perfection.  If you’d like to attend a yoga retreat on a shoestring budget, then Karma yoga is a good option. The Radha Caudet in the southwest of France (https://radhacaudet.com) offers yoga retreats at varying prices. If you’re willing to perform a few hours of physical labour in the garden, they reduce the price of your stay here.

Given the countless opportunities for outdoor activities, the gym culture is not as popular in France. However there are some popular chains in France such as Club Med Gym in Paris.  To find out more about activities taking place in your community you should visit La mairie (town/city hall) in your area upon your arrival.



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