22 March 2012

American sports and activities in France

You may not have to give up as much as you feared in moving here.
This post was provoked by a couple of articles in the local paper about a group coming from Nantes to show young people in the town next to me how to do Double Dutch.  You could've knocked me over.  (Unfortunately, I couldn't find the articles on the Internet to steal a copy of the accompanying photo, so I used a generic photo.)  That got me to me thinking about all the sports and other activities that I think of as American that you can find in France.  So, here are some I've noticed:
  • Baseball and softball (fast- and slow-pitch) - in addition to a national league,there are amateur teams all over this area which are well equipped and of high level..  Locally, we have an annual softball tournament played on the beach of the Bassin d'Arcachon.
  • American football - the local team is for young men and aims to teach them the values of football (discipline, team play, etc.), not the win-at-all-cost philosophy of a Vince Lombardi.
  • Frisbee - there's an Ultimate team here that competes all over France.
  • Basketball - this sport has long out-grown its American origin and is now international and Olympic.  American basketball is followed closely (newspapers and TV), especially now that French players are doing so well in the NBA.  A very important sport at all levels in France - except there are no college teams.  I'll post about why another time.
  • Ice hockey - not really American, but Canadian.  Still, it's North American.  We've got a team here in Bordeaux that competes nationally.
  • Country and line dancing - there are clubs everywhere around here.  The French love it.  Especially in costume.
  • Cheerleading - there's a national association and many clubs.
  • Scrapbooking and quilting - quite popular.  The latter is recognized as a folk art.
  • Harley-Davidson clubs - there are a number.
  • American-oriented - off the top of my head, I know of clubs in the area inspired by 1) French-American ties, 2) the French presence in Louisiana, 3) the twinning of Bordeaux and Los Angeles, 4) the participation of Lafayette in the American revolution.  In addition, a town named Cadillac has a big festival every year to celebrate the Cadillac automobile.
Behind most, if not all, of these activities is an association (club).  There are hundreds of thousands of associations in France with millions of participants, devoted to every imaginable activity.  I'll write more about them some other time.  The point here is that for getting settled in, joining and participating in the associations where you live is the easy road to making French friends.  Your level of French is far less important in the informal atmosphere of most clubs and my experience has been that they'll be pleased, even proud, to have an American aboard.  Stop by your mairie for more info about associations in your area.


    1. Harvey, the French love line dancing especially in "costume?" Does this mean when I wear my boots, directly from Western Warehouse in Reno, I will be in costume? Oh no, what will they think when I add my cowboy hat???

      My husband has recently bought a Yamaha moto. He speaks almost no French, but, no matter. When he was shopping, he and the salesman understood each other perfectly. They spoke "moto!" There are just some commonalities that transcend formal language. He now "belongs" via his moto. As far as associations, he has several to choose from.
      It's good to belong when in a foreign country.

      1. They'll love your boots and hat. Also, the bolo tie, denim skirt, etc.

        All summer I wear a straw Statson I bought here in Bordeaux! After all, I'm from Houston and it makes it easier for my wife to find me in crowd.

      2. A Statson in Bordeaux! I never would have guessed.

      3. Drat! That should have been a Stetson.

        And yeah, there are at least two shops in Bordeaux that sell Stetsons. Who wudda thought?