Paris is home to a number of fine sporting venues, but with major rugby events approaching in the coming years, it may be time to look at Stade Jean-Bouin as the place to be. Most notably, as the Paris has been tabbed to stage the 2024 Summer Olympics, this stadium in the 16th arrondissement will play host to some of the most publicized rugby matches in the world.
Particularly among international visitors, rugby may not be the first attraction that comes to mind, as it can be an unusual sport for those who aren’t familiar with it. The description for an online game about rugby may actually have put it best, saying the sport might appeal if football is a little too soft or if tennis doesn’t float your boat. In that case the description is specifically pitching a casino game with a rugby theme, but it’s actually how a lot of people look at the real sport: as a tougher sort of alternative to more universally popular options.
Incidentally, this can make rugby a lot of fun if you’re just checking it out as a casual visitor. It’s not like, say, watching golf if you aren’t a golf fan, or trying out cricket when you don’t know the rules. Sure, like any sport rugby can be confusing if you’re not familiar with it. But the tough nature of the athletes, the fast pace of the action, and the general intensity of the contests can make it incredibly engaging even if you’re going in more or less blind. That makes rugby an exhilarating experience for any international traveler.
At Stade Jean-Bouin, you’ll get to enjoy this experience in a particularly authentic environment. It’s a pretty stadium, not oversized but not small, and situated right next to the more famous Parc des Princes, where Paris Saint-Germain plays football. The stadium hosts Stade Francais regularly, and will also host international matches from time to time – including at the 2024 Olympics. So while there are other places to see rugby in Paris, this may be the best.
It’s also worth noting for people who might not be familiar with the sporting environment in France that this is not a pitch to go and enjoy some fringe sport or obscure activity (as rugby may be seen in some other countries). Just last summer rugby was revealed to be the most popular team sport in France by a poll. Though some feel that this could soon change given that France is somewhat removed from its glory days in the sport, the fact remains that rugby is a major draw, and thus an interesting cultural experience as well.