6 reasons to come to France for the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Let's face it: in the autumn of 2023, France is going to stand out from the rest of the world, and even more so than usual, hosting the 10th Rugby World Cup. 10 host cities are in the front line to offer entertainment and a grand slam of discoveries to be savoured in the mildness of the Indian summer between beautiful museums, exceptional cultural and natural heritage. Why not drop everything to come?

1. Stunning stadiums

Beware your eyes (and ears)! Mythical or ultra-modern, the nine host stadiums of the 2023 Rugby World Cup are worth a visit, even outside the matches. The impressive Stade de France, built in 1998, is the largest sports venue in France. Don't miss the guided tour behind the scenes of this futuristic 80,000-seat vessel. The Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille is just as impressive, a technological feat with its retractable roof and its "show box", which stands out from the rest of the stadiums! In Marseille, the Stade Vélodrome is not to be outdone. Equipped with an aerial roof, like a large white sail 65 m above the pitch, the venerable stadium of Marseille club puts on a show, famously known for its architecture, its acoustics and its legendary atmosphere.

Lyon's ultramodern OL Stadium, inaugurated in 2016, is in the same XXL category, a 60,000-seat behemoth at the heart of OL Vallée, a vast complex of restaurants, accommodation and leisure facilities. The Offside Gallery and its colourful walls dedicated to the best of street art are a particular favourite. And for a trip back in time, the Musée des Verts in the "Chaudron", the iconic Geoffroy Guichard Stadium in Saint-Etienne, scene of the most wonderful 1976 match. Finally, the Bordeaux stadium looks like a Greek temple with its thousand posts, a reference to the pine trees of the Landes.

So, which of these stadiums would tickle your fancy? And what if you tried the 9-pack?

2. An open-air museum

Every year, on the third weekend of September, the European Heritage Days open the doors of prestigious museums and monuments for free. The host cities of the 2023 Rugby World Cup will be taking part and will remain in pole position throughout the autumn to showcase their treasures. Among the places in the spotlight, the Bourse du Commerce-Collection Pinault or the Carnavalet Museum are the buzz in Paris, while in Saint-Denis, the Basilica-Cathedral or the Street Art Avenue should not be missed. In Marseille, just a stone's throw from the Mucem, the replica of the Cosquer cave will take you back into the history of cave art on board a high-tech wagon! In Toulouse, you can put your head in the stars at the Cité de l'Espace or on the Piste des Géants where the fabulous adventure of the Aéropostale pioneers is relived. With 350 Unesco listed buildings, Bordeaux holds its own, from the Cité du Vin to the Musée Mer Marine, in the Bassins à flots district where the Bassins de Lumières have also been installed. You'll also have to hang on to Nice, which has three museums with great collections: the Matisse Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Marc-Chagall Museum. And we bet you'll love getting up high in Nantes, on the back of a big mechanical elephant or in the branches of a Heron Tree, for an extraordinary journey in the footsteps of Jules Verne.

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3. Beautiful nature to explore

France is a paradise for hiking, cycling and river tourism, even more so when autumn arrives with its shimmering colours. In their immediate surroundings, the 10 host cities of the Rugby World Cup 2023 all reveal a beautiful nature, including Paris and Saint-Denis, which invite you to take a stroll along the Canal de l'Ourcq or in the beautiful gardens and generous vegetable gardens of the royal Château de Versailles.

From the mountains of the Pilat Regional Nature Park just outside Saint-Etienne to the Côte d'Azur, with its perched villages in the hinterland of Nice, through the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône and Beaujolais, a stone's throw from Lyon, or those of Bordeaux, with their collection of grands crus and prestigious wineries a few kilometres from the Bassin d'Arcachon, we promise you beautiful escapes, in complete tranquillity. In the creeks of Marseille, along the Canal du Midi, close to Toulouse, on the long beach of La Baule, a stone's throw from Nantes, in the Baie de Somme, or on an invigorating holiday in Le Touquet, less than 2 hours from Lille. You'll be able to get some fresh air and recharge your batteries sustainably.

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4. A unique art of living and conviviality you’ve never experienced before.

In rugby, third halves are never sad. This is fortunate because France has a sense of celebration, a taste for sharing, gastronomy and conviviality over an aperitif (the national sport!) or good food, always accompanied by carefully chosen wines. In the land of bistros, bouchons lyonnais, estaminets in Lille where you can enjoy a good carbonnade or mussels and chips, and terraces where you can linger whatever the season, such as on the Vieux Port in Marseille, over a good bouillabaisse, the Rugby World Cup 2023 will find an ideal place for festivities.

Of course, there will be giant screens on the Place du Capitole in Toulouse, the capital of Rugby and the South-West, home of Ovalie. There will also be "Rugby Villages" and other activities in the 10 host cities and in the "base camp" cities hosting the teams (Rueil-Malmaison, Le Touquet, Versailles, La Baule, Libourne, Avignon, Montpellier, Toulon, La Rochelle/Ile de Ré, Tours, Bourgoin-Jallieu).

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5. Mouth-watering gastronomy

In France, each region, each town and even each village has preserved its traditions and recipes. The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be a culinary tour of France, with a sustainable approach, that will tantalise the taste buds. In 2022, the Michelin guide awarded 6 new Green Stars making France the leading country in terms of the number of committed chefs. Who can beat that?

You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to tasting local, hearty cuisine (râpées stéphanoises, cassoulet toulousain, pâté en croûte, brioche sausage or rosette de Lyon, southern (pissaladière, socca, panisse in Nice), oceanic (oysters from the Arcachon basin in Bordeaux) without forgetting a few sweets (Macarons in Paris, vanilla waffles in Lille) and of course an assortment of cheeses to knock out a rugby player. We promise you that great wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy or small, fresh white wines, Muscadet and large plants from Nantes, will not spoil anything.

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6. Practical and sustainable travel

There is no need to take a plane or even hire a car to travel around France and discover its natural and cultural treasures between matches. All accessible by train, the 2023 Rugby World Cup host cities encourage public transports, a decisive criterion that has led to their selection to host the competition, as well as the selection of the "base camp" cities.

On site, whether reaching the stadium or explore the surrounding area, sustainable transport is the focus of many. Tramways, self-service bicycles, including electric ones (Vélib' in Paris, Le Vélo in Marseille, V'Lille, Vélo Bleu in Nice, Vélô Toulouse, Vélivert in Saint-Etienne) and self-service scooter hire. Life is good when you take care of the planet! Travelling across the sea or river, maritime transport with shuttles or even hybrid catamarans are on the rise. For a tram ticket, you can sail on the Garonne and Loire rivers in Bordeaux and Nantes, or take a vaporetto-style electric shuttle on the Saône in Lyon. It's a great way to slow down the pace!

Coming and going by train