Since I’ve been in France, I got to experience a little bit of the sports culture on this side of the ocean. While people here still go crazy for their favorite team, I’ve found the general sports fans to be of a different kind in Europe. During one of my first nights with my host family, I sat down in front of the TV to watch a soccer game. Of course here in Europe, in every language, ‘soccer’ translates to ‘football’, and NO ONE will understand what you’re talking about if you try to use the word ‘soccer’. Literally no one.
Any way, my host dad, Daniel, and I were watching a game between Paris something something vs some other European team, and him and his son, Olivier, were getting really into it. To make small talk, I asked them what their favorite team was, only to be looked at as if I was speaking another language (I didn’t think my french was that bad..). They both immediately responded: “Rennes” (the city that they live in, and I am living in now), as if it were obvious. I wondered to myself “Rennes? Do they even have a team? Did I misunderstand something?”. Soon after this night, I realized that generally in France, the sports fans are extremely loyal to the team closest to their home region. While this is also common in the United States, I have also noticed that sports fans in the US often change their ‘favorite team’ based on who has the most wins. This also explains why my brother is sporting a different team’s colors every year…
After watching a few games on TV, I decided to head out and experience the action first hand. Most of the soccer games in Rennes are pretty popular, but the French love giving student discounts, so my friends and I were able to get front row seats for only about eight dollars!!! It was really cool to be so close to the action, and Rennes ended up winning 2-0! With so many people around us rooting for Rennes, it was easy to get caught up in the team spirit. I ended up going to another game a couple weeks after, but this time I got to sit right near the student section! Once when the referee made a bad call, the whole student section went crazy and it took about 20 security guards to break everything up!
As an added bonus to the sports culture, there are also food traditions associated with soccer here. The go-to game food is a ‘galette saucisse’. Galettes are the savory version of crepes, filled with cheese, meat, and veggies, while crepes normally have stuff like sugar, nutella, and fruit. The galette saucisse is basically a sausage wrapped in a galette. It doesn’t sound too appetizing, but it’s tradition so I had to try one. While I enjoyed it, it was nothing to write home about (but maybe worth blogging about?).
Overall, being around my host family at home and seeing all the fans at the games really showed me how loyal the people here are to their home team, and also how exciting it can be to get involved! I enjoyed the games so much that I decided to make soccer and the French sports culture the topic of my final project for my French 403 class taught here by Union professor Charles Batson! I’m exciting to curl up in front of the fire to watch a game on TV, get awesome seats for an awesome price at the Stade Rennais (Rennes stadium), and of course indulge in some more stadium food over the next 2 months!
Side note, this upcoming week is French university’s fall vacation (La Vacances de la Toussaint/ Vacation of All Saints) so tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane to go to ITALY then over to PRAGUE to visit some Union students that are studying there and to celebrate Halloween (which doesn’t exist in France)!! See you in November!