Paris is one of continental Europe’s most beautiful cities, but it is also a haven for top professional sports such as rugby, football, tennis, basketball and one of the world’s premier cycling events – The Tour de France.
The gruelling endurance race has climaxed in Paris every year since 1975. In fact, the Champs-Elysees close to regular traffic, allowing spectators to cheer the remaining Tour de France competitors down the glorious boulevard to the final tape in the shadow of the imposing Arc de Triomphe. This is the race that every endurance cyclist wants to win, and to be the rider wearing the coveted yellow jersey on the entry to Paris is the ultimate honour.
It’s not only cyclist enthusiasts that are drawn to sporting Paris. Over the past 100 years France’s capital has hosted two football World Cups and one Rugby World Cup finals tournament. It also boasts one of the best stadiums in Northern Europe – the magnificent Stade de France. Although custom-built for the FIFA 1998 World Cup Finals, the stadium is now home to Rugby Union side Stade Francais and it also doubles as the national sports stadium. It is here that France’s rugby union and national soccer team play their home games, as well as various track and field athletics meetings.
But, of the regular events that take place at the stadium it’s possibly the Six Nations games that attract most interest. Indeed, the majority of Paris hotels, not just those close to the Stade de France, are booked up weeks in advance of Six Nations rugby games. As such, guests arrive from all over France in addition to tens of thousands of followers of the travelling team. The Welsh, Scots, Irish, English and Italians all enjoy visiting the city to watch their team in action, as they can also take full advantage of all the culture and entertainment that Paris offers!
From Montmartre to Montparnasse, during a Six Nations weekend the streets of Paris are full of rugby fans all sporting their team’s colours while gleefully soaking up the unique Parisian ambience. For them a touch of sight-seeing is usually interspersed with a few timely stop-offs at various bars and cafes en route to the stadium.
So, if you are planning a trip to Paris and sport doesn’t interest you, then you may wish to avoid being in the city when one of the Six Nations games is taking place. Conversely, if you thrive on the buzz and the sights, sounds and colours of a sporting event, then you are sure to experience a memorable visit.