Calling all football fans! France is famous for many things, including food and cycling, but football, or soccer, is yet another string to its bow. The country has several top-tier football clubs, both old and new, that have been crowned champions in a variety of different leagues. Let’s look at five of the top French football teams – you’ll learn a bit about their history, why they’re so successful and who plays for them. Before we get started, it’s worth having a look at some French footie vocab so you know all the important terms.
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1. Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG, is a top French football team, but also one of the biggest and most successful football teams in the world. It was founded in 1970 and has won 41 titles! However, it didn’t start out as a top French football team. It was only in 2011 that it really began to triumph on a regular basis. Naturally, some of the best French football players have played on PSG, including Kylian Mbappé and Layvin Kurzawa. Both men have also been players for the national football team of France.
2. Olympique de Marseille
If you head down to the south of France to visit Marseille, you’ll see blue OM shirts and signs everywhere. OM stands for Olympique Marseille, the city’s football club and all-around top French football team. OM has a myriad of titles and triumphs to its name, including that it is one of the oldest football clubs in France – founded in 1899! In France, the team has won the crown of Ligue 1 (the professional league for men’s football clubs in France) ten times. Outside the country, its biggest win was in 1992-1993, when it became the first and only French football club to win the UEFA Champions League.
Beware when there is a match between PSG and OM – these top French football teams are rivals and match days can get pretty rowdy.
3. Olympique Lyonnais
The third top French football team on our list is from the city of Lyon and is called Olympique Lyonnais. The club was founded in 1950 and has had various winning streaks throughout its history. For example, in 2002 it won its first Ligue 1 title, leading to a streak of seven Ligue 1 titles in a row. It’s also won the French Cup trophy five times. Karim Benzema, who is one of the players on France’s national football team, played for Olympique Lyonnais from 2005 to 2009.
4. AS Saint-Étienne
AS Saint-Étienne is another oldie. The club was founded in 1919 in the town of Saint-Étienne in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The golden age for this team was in the 1960s and 70s, when it won eight Ligue 1 trophies and several French Cup wins. Although its success in recent years has not been as smooth, it is still considered one of the most successful French football teams. Two important French football players, René Domingo and Hervé Revelli, helped lead the team to victory in the 60s and 70s.
5. AS Monaco
It may come as a surprise to learn that Monaco, the French southern city of around 38,000 residents, has one of the top French football teams, AS Monaco. The club was founded in 1924 and has managed to maintain stable financial backing since its creation (minus one financially difficult period in the 00s). This could be a contributing factor to its success. On top of many trophies won in the French football system, AS Monaco has also been runner-up in several international competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League.
These are our top five French football teams, however, there are plenty of other fantastic clubs that you can support in France. If you love French football, we would suggest learning the French national anthem La Marseillaise so you can fit in like a local at the next game!
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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.