France has a rich tradition of swordsmanship, which has evolved from a means of warfare to a symbol of social status. In France, fencing is often seen as a blend of sport and art, and we find it very appealing. Many of our staff members who grew up in France remember the sport being promoted in school clubs for all ages. Next year, we'll be cheering for our champions Daniel Jerent and Enzo Lefort and we hope to see them go home with gold medals!
Given Judo's principles of respect, discipline, and self-improvement, it's no surprise that the sport is by far the most popular martial art in France. World champions like David Douillet, Teddy Riner and Clarisse Agbegnenou have played an undeniable role in making the sport a national favourite, working hand in hand with the Fédération Française de Judo to open dojos all around the country and train our future champions. In fact, at the Alliance Française, our Kids' Courses Coordinator Sophie is a Judo black belt, and coaches men and women twice per week in Sydney.
France's waterfronts have always been a favourite among tourists and French nationals, who love to holiday by the Atlantic or the French Riviera. Water sports are taught from a young age in France, forming part of most schools' physical education programs. France's love for swimming extends beyond the Olympics, with the World Championship one of the most watched sporting events in the country. Our Marketing Coordinator Louise is a huge fan of competitive swimming, with the entire office very much aware of her support for our current champion, Léon Marchand.
Handball, also known as European Handball or Olympic Handball, might be a lesser-known sport outside of Europe, but it definitely evokes a sense of pride in the French whenever their team is playing. Our General Manager Denis also happens to be our resident expert. During his teenage years, he used to play with HBV - Handball Vénissieux, whose adult team was one of the best Handball Clubs of the early 1990s. If you asked him today, he would tell you that what drives his passion is the friendly rivalries with international teams like Sweden, Russia, Croatia or Hungary.
As the excitement for the Summer Olympics grows, an increasing number of high school students in France are choosing Athletics as a subject for their Baccalaureate final exam (similar to the HSC in Australia). Athletics events like the Summer Olympics and the World Athletics Championship have a large fanbase in France, including a smaller one (but just as intense) in our office on Clarence Street. Our Customer Service Officer Laura happens to be close friends with Louise Maraval, a very promising athlete and European medalist whose incredible performance at the U23 event brings back memories of Floria Gueï and her amazing comeback in Zurich 2014!
From the elegance of fencing to the discipline of judo, each of these events capture a facet of France's unique cultural identity. As the 2024 Paris Olympics draw closer, the anticipation and excitement continues to mount - and the Alliance Francaise Sydney office is no exception! We can't wait!