Pickup Basketball in Paris, France

Pickup Basketball in Paris – what you need to know before you lace up your sneakers. France does not produce a lot of NBA basketball players but the athletes they have produced have been special. The great Atlanta Hawk Dominique Williams, aka the Human Highlight Film, was from Paris.

Boris Diaw played fourteen years in the league and won a championship with the Spurs. Not a standout player the likes of Wilkins or superstar Frenchman Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, Diaw had a few qualities often found in his other countrymen that have played at the highest level – versatile big men that are well liked in the league. Nowhere is that more apparent in the biggest basketball prospect France has ever produced in Victor Wembanyama who currently plays for the Metropolitans – a club in
the French professional league. Standing in at 7’3 (7’4 by some accounts), Wembanyama is more than one of the top talents France has ever produced. He is being called a generational prospect. High praise for an 18-year-old from a small town in north-central France. Not many 18-year-old basketball prospects have an eight-foot wingspan and can coolly knock down a step back three pointer. The praise seems well deserved.

France is known for many things, but basketball is not one of them. Although there are very few venues to watch televised NBA games in Paris, there are several good spots to play pick up basketball. Below is a review of a few of the more well-known spots and what to expect if you’re visiting Paris and want to get in a game of pick-up basketball. Come prepared to bring your game. Although soccer dominates
France, the level of play in pick-up basketball is surprisingly strong and challenging.

Luxembourg Gardens – Paris

Against the beautiful backdrop of statues, greenery, and some of the most idyllic garden settings in Paris, stands a lone basketball half-court basketball space with an unforgiving iron rim. Games here are casual and friendly and often are varied ages. Do not be surprised to find yourself playing with both kids and adults in this well trafficked location. The level of a play is as mixed as the thousands of people that
visit the park daily. You truly never know what you are going to get. You will have to visit the court frequently to catch an even and competitive games. During weekdays you will get younger kids mixed with a few adults. 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 games are not uncommon. The surface is a bit patchy and dirt from the surrounding park area can find its way onto the court. Wear good shows and be careful chasing down balls as the surface can get slippery with grainy dirt.

Les Halles – Paris

In one of the busiest sections of the city stands one of the most frequented and beat basketball courts you’ll find in the city. Adjacent to the Les Halles mall and alongside a stretch of path that leads from the subway station of the namesake area to the shopping complex, one finds a small half-court and a rim sans net. Despite the cramped quarters that shares the space with a forlorn table tennis set up and miniscule soccer area, games of basketball can be found here. Level of play is random and one may get
involved in a spirited pickup game of 3 on 3 or find themselves shooting alone. The net has been absent in the many years I’ve visited the court. Despite the setbacks the location can’t be beat and if you are not comfortable playing in front of countless passerbys it might not be for you. While the court cannot be recommended for more serious players, if you are looking for recreational fun with the occasional competitive game, give it a try.

Playground St Paul – Paris
Tucked behind the majestic 17th century Saint-Paul Saint-Louis church lies an expanse of playground that includes both a medium sized soccer field and two half-court basketball courts. On any given evening one can find some of the most competitive pickup basketball in all of Paris. The play is highly competitive, and courts are full. One can expect rigorous 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 matches. After around 5pm there is often a wait to play and the courts are filled with many regulars. Do not be intimidated by the high level of play. The crowd is friendly and inclusive. If you are not prepared for multiple players routinely dunking throughout the course of play, you may want to hone your skills on less competitive courts. Ages are mixed from teen to adult. If you come earlier in the day, you can often get involved in slightly less competitive levels of play. When the court is busy you will often find at least several
athletes playing that could reasonably be called as playing at the high school or better level. While it is intimidating to compete against players that can play above the rim, the gameplay is still fun and players of all ages and sizes compete. Warm up early and give it a go.

Peter Grassi, Guest Writer
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Shalini Kaushik
Shalini Kaushik
1 year ago

Wow I did not know that !! Thanks for sharing !!

Trish Althaus
Trish Althaus
1 year ago

I love this interesting perspective on some wonderful places to visit in Paris. A different way to think about these beautiful spots.

Carolyn Grassi
Carolyn Grassi
1 year ago

Wow! How interesting, pick-up basketball in beautiful Paris! I thought you played tennis Peter….wonder if you did that during your Sept vacation there? Very interesting. merci,
Carolyn aka Mom

Susan Saw
Susan Saw
1 year ago

This was unexpected. I love that you saw past the museums and touristy places and found places to play basketball. It has more worldwide appeal than I thought. Fun article with interesting info.

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