France is one of the most visited countries in the world with an iconic culture of class and luxury. Among the many reasons to visit France, from wine and cheese to the arts and fashion, their prowess in polo attracts fans from across the globe. France has an amazing polo history that began only twenty years after England’s first club was established. Ever since, the country has been on the forefront of innovation and competition in the world of polo.
History of Polo in France
Only twenty years after the first polo club was created in India, the Paris Polo Club was opened in 1892. The polo club is located in the historic Parisian Forest parc Bois de Boulogne.
Bois de Boulogne is home to the Parc and Chateau de Bagatelle – a place famously constructed after a bet between Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, and her brother-in-law in 1775.
In 1891, the Vicomte de la Rochefoucauld gathered several of his most passionate polo friends and held the first Parisian polo games within the Bagatelle grounds. A year later, the Vicomte leased land from the Bois de Boulogne and City of Paris to begin the Paris Polo Club (Polo de Paris).
By 1895, with the support of the Hurlingham Polo Club in England, the club held its first international tournament. After the debut of this tournament, polo became a sensation across France. This helped push polo onto the Olympic stage where France won Bronze in 1900. Although polo is no longer Olympic sport, France continues to participate in international competitions like the FIP World Polo Championship and Polo Nations Cup.
Today, Polo de Paris sits on the same property and has become an impressive epicenter for polo in Paris. The club hosts some of France’s most famous tournaments including the ‘Tournoi de La Ville de Paris’ and the ‘Open de Paris’.
Polo in France Today
There are many beautiful polo clubs across France. The Polo Club du Domaine Chantilly, Polo Club St Tropez, Deauville Polo Club are among some of the most beautiful.
This year, the first ever Polo Nations Cup was played at the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly. Not only was this highly anticipated tournament held in France, the winning team, Paca, was an all-French team.
The Polo Rider Cup at the Polo Club St Tropez brings together the best polo clubs for a 10-day international competition.
In 2023, France won the first FIP Arena Polo World Championship in Argentina, the home of polo. A historic achievement for French polo and an important recognition for the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly, the home club of all six French players.
French Equine Technology
In addition to France’s impressive victories, the country is having great success in equine technology. The French company, Voltaire, created the first Bluetooth saddle in 2016. This saddle, though primarily used in the jumping discipline, uses Equisense technology to track a variety of factors such as gait, symmetry, and intensity to provide a detailed analysis of every ride. The feedback this new technology gives riders is an opportunity to improve at unprecedented rates. As Voltaire continues to advance, the polo world is excited to see how France’s equine innovations will take the sport to new heights.
Want to learn more about polo in Europe? Watch our upcoming Global Polo Show presented by U.S. Polo Assn. on polo in Europe coming in December!