Rugby World Cup fever finally seems to have hit Paris! Up until recently, you'd have been excused for not knowing that France was hosting the prestigious quadrennial event. But suddenly the reminders are everywhere: billboards in metro stations, TV ads, and international jerseys coloring the streets.
While Toulouse and Marseille are the more traditional rugby centers, many games are being played in Paris’ major stadiums, Stade de France and Parc des Princes (traditionally a soccer stadium). Although the more rugby-oriented nations (Ireland, England, southern hemisphere teams, and of course the home nation) are set to dominate, newer talents such as Japan, the US, and debutante Portugal will also be looking to make an impression. The event may not set the streets alight the way the football world cup held here in 1998 did, but the influx of international rugby fans should ensure a convivial atmosphere. Paris and the north suburb of Saint Denis will be hosting 12 of this year's games, including the kickoff and the final.
Basic Info on the 2007 Rugby World Cup
Dates: September 7th-October 20th, 2007
Official merchandise: 32 avenue de l'Opera, 2nd arrondissement
Match locations: Paris, Lens, Montpellier, Nantes, St-Etienne, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, Cardiff and Edinburgh
Opening match: France vs. Argentina (Saint Denis-- North Paris suburb)
Final match: Semifinal winners (Saint Denis)
Visit the official website for a full list of matches, including those in Paris
Getting to the GamesFor lucky ticket holders, here's how to get to the two Paris-based stadiums:
Stade de France
Zac du Cornillon Nord
Metro: Saint Denis – Porte de Paris
Parc des Princes
24 avenue du Commandant Guilbaud
16th arrondissement, Paris
Metro: Porte de Saint Cloud
A Few Tips
- Does the mind boggle with talk of line-outs, scrums, and drop-goals? Rugby is a fast and physical sport, but a little research prior to the games will help you enjoy the sport and participate in the heckling. Check out this page on the BBC site for a comprehensive beginner's guide to the basics of the game and an explanation of essential terminology.
- For more committed fans, get the latest updates on team changes, preparations, and more on the official Rugby World Cup site
- Some last-minute tickets may still be available. Try the official site, or if you’re willing to pay above the odds, Ticket City which sells tickets at market value.
Viewing optionsIf you haven’t secured tickets to the games, there are plenty of other options besides your own living room.
Rugby World Cup matches will be broadcast on big screens at three different Paris locations, making for a pleasant experience if the well-deserved Indian summer finally hits: Hôtel the Ville (4th arrondissement), Trocadero (16th arrondissement), and Charlety (13th arrondissement).
If there’s an autumnal chill in the air, Irish bars are always a warm source of atmosphere for sporting events. The majority will be broadcasting all matches, but note that beer tends to be pricey. Check out what promotions they're offering ahead of time and arrive early for a decent view. Check out our guide to St. Patrick's Day in Paris for more info on the best Irish pubs around town.
British and Australian/New Zealand bars will also be a hub of activity, and you may even witness an impromptu haka (A Maori war dance performed by the New Zealand All blacks before each game). Some favorites:
18 rue St Denis
Frogpubs is a chain of English pubs across France, with four in the capital. Young, lively crowd.
If you'd rather mingle with the home crowd and cheer on "les bleus", here are a couple of home-grown options:
Le Rugby bar
2 rue Roquepine
Tel.: 33(01) 42 65 38 45
2 rue du Cdt-Guilbauld
Tel.: 33(0)1 40 71 22 22
Le Killy Jen
28 bis, bld Diderot
12th arrondissement Tel.: 33(0)1 43 43 23 63
Related EventsIf your interest in rugby goes deeper than professional competition, or you simply want to soak up all relevant events, there is plenty more on offer around Paris.
In Paris, even a contact sport merits artistic interpretation. The world cup has so far inspired two major exhibitions.
Hotel de Ville: "A Day in the Life of a Rugby Player"
From September 4th, visitors can experience a day in the life of a rugby player. At the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), an open-air exhibition including videos, photos and even reconstructed dressing rooms will be provided to take fans on the rugby player’s journey. Admission is free. Open from 10am to 7pm.
Musée du Quai Branly:
The recently inaugurated museum is devoting an entire program to the world cup, where visitors can discuss with scientists, sociologists, and players. Workshops will also take place where fans can learn about cultures of the Pacific who have a strong rugby tradition.
A temporary rugby pitch has also been erected on the roof and inaugurated by the Wallabies (Australian team).
The Irish and French wheelchair rugby teams will battle it out in the stunning Palais Royal courtyard (Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre) on September 6th and 8th, after which the host team will take on the English at the Hôtel de Ville on September 9th. This version of wheelchair rugby was invented in Canada 30 years ago.