Dispatch from Paris: Rugby World Cup 2023 Kicks Off in France

Dispatch from Paris: Rugby World Cup 2023 Kicks Off in France

It’s rugby fever in Paris. From rugby-themed restaurant menus to witty advertising on city kiosks, the Rugby World Cup has taken the capital by storm. Exactly 200 years after the sport was invented, France is hosting the 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup from 8 September to 28 October. Twenty countries will compete in 48 matches played in 10 hosts cities: Lille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Paris and Saint-Denis.

On Friday night, the opening ceremony at the Stade de France outside Paris, starring actor Jean Dujardin, was a theatrical celebration of the French art de vivre. The celebrity-studded cast included 44 professional artists (dancers and acrobats) and 240 volunteers. There was a flyover by the Patrouille de France, and a spectacular fireworks show. President Emmanuel Macron gave a short speech- check out the video his team put together below.

Pitting New Zealand’s All Blacks against France’s Les Bleus, the opening match was an absolute thrill. The host nation beat New Zealand 27-13 in sweltering heat during an unusual canicule (“heat wave”).

If you’re in Paris and want to get in on the action, head to the Fan Zone situated on the Place de la Concorde, smack dab in the heart of the city. Dedicated to all things rugby, this event village will welcome rugby fans until 28 October 2023. There’s a giant screen to watch the matches, plus lots of activities and events to enjoy.

Traveling to France to see some of the matches and need some travel tips? Check out our dedicated Rugby World Cup guide on sister site, France Today.

The Paris region is hosting three base camps for the Rugby World Cup: Wales in Versailles, Tonga in Croissy-sur-Seine and France in Rueil-Malmaison. Ahead of the opening match, these towns were rolling out the red carpet with all kinds of activities and celebrations for both the players and fans. Close to Paris, the French national team is enjoying the delights of the place beloved by Josephine Bonaparte- her Château de Malmaison is one of our favorite day trips from the capital.

The Château de Malmaison. Photo credit: Annabel Simms

Lead photo credit : MARSEILLE, FRANCE-SEPTEMBER 30, 2007: rugby fans cheering during the Rugby World Cup match France vs Georgia, in Marseille.

More in Les Bleus, Rugby, Rugby World Cup 2023, Stade de France

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