France Rugby World Cup 2023
We’ve returned from our trip to France to attend the 2023 Rugby World Cup. It’s a fun international event that happens every four years, similar to the FIFA World Cup. Although, the rugby tournament takes about 7 weeks, from start to finish.
Overall, we thought France did a good job hosting the event. At least, that was our experience during the time of our visit. Our trip to France was in mid-September, during the early pool stage when more games being played.
There are several host cities for the France World Cup, including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Nice.
It’s clear that France has a passion for the sport, particularly in the south, which is where we stayed.
We spent one week in Nice. During our time there, we attended two live matches and watched a few games at the Rugby Village and at various restaurants and brasseries.
In this post, we share our experience attending the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Why attend the France Rugby World Cup?
We are often asked this question. When we announced that we would be attending the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, many people asked us why? Read our response in this post.
After returning home from that trip to Japan, we decided to attend the next world cup in 2023. France is an easy travel destination and our boys would be four years older. So we entered the lottery for tickets and crossed our fingers that we’d get a Canada match.
Rugby is not a top sport in Canada. It has a loyal following, but it’s rarely televised and there few live games to attend. However, Canada has made 9 straight appearances at the Rugby World Cup.
Up until this world cup, that is. Sadly, our home team lost in the qualifying stages, which eliminated them from the France tournament.
Related post – Our experience attending the Rugby World Cup in Japan
We found a group of crazy Canadians at the Wales v Portugal match in Nice.
Rugby World Cup host city – Nice, France
When planning our France trip, we had to consider the schedule of matches and locations of host cities. While some cities look close on a map, the travel time between each city can easily eat up a day.
We did not want to bounce around the country every other day. So we had to make some tough decisions.
The majority of games are played on Saturday and Sunday. This has an impact because some host cities have 4, 5 or even 11 days between matches.
Ultimately, we landed on Nice as our first choice. It was an easy decision because, well, it’s Nice! A top France travel destination on its own.
After multiple unsuccessful rounds of trying to secure tickets, we finally got a family pack (4 tickets) for two games in Nice. It’s not easy getting tickets. And the process is unnecessarily complicated.
There’s plenty of signage welcoming visitors to Nice for the World Cup. We like seeing the signs. It makes you feel like you’re attending something big.
We felt that the signage and excitement was missing at the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup. France was much different. It has a world event vibe and energy.
The streets of Vieux Nice, the historic old town, has a vibrant and festive atmosphere. Hundreds of fans, mostly from Wales, filled the streets and restaurants the day before the big match against Portugal.
Fans enjoy the New Zealand All Blacks match at an outdoor restaurant in Vieux Nice.
It wasn’t easy to find available seats at restaurants that televised the game with audio. But after much searching, we found a great spot to soak up the atmosphere.
Stade de Nice – Allianz Riviera, Nice
The weather in Nice was mostly hot and sunny during our visit – EXCEPT during match days!
Yes, that is day(s). Plural. It rained heavily before and during BOTH matches we attended.
We are from Vancouver, where it rains from November to April. So the rain didn’t bother us too much.
Fortunately, the seating inside Stade de Nice is covered, which protects guests from the rain. See the photo below for a wide angle view of the Nice rugby stadium.
However, we did not like that guests are allowed to smoke inside the stadium. This seemed so foreign to us. We were shocked the first time we smelled someone smoking beside us. Smoking indoors does not happen in Canada anymore.
Lots of stairs to climb to get this photo! There are no elevators (for general public, there is for people with disabilities) or escalators, so you must walk up several flights of stairs.
This Nice stadium has a capacity of 36,178 people.
Food and beverage at Stade de Nice during Rugby World Cup.
Beer is served in plastic souvenir cups (see photo below). The cups have flags of each nation playing at the Nice stadium. Each cup costs 2 Euros. The intent is for guests to re-use the cups, when possible.
We brought four of these cups home as a souvenir from the world cup in France.
Beer guy! Event organizers took beer distribution to the next level with these clever keg-backpacks.
Several beer salespeople walked around the stadium filling up your plastic cups. We prefer draught beer over cans of beer (which are common at North America stadiums), so we think this is a great idea.
Before the game, this guy had trouble selling his beer. By half time, he had dozens of people lining up to get freshly poured beer. And the line didn’t stop until the game ended! He had to swap backpacks with fresh beer multiple times to keep up with demand.
The food and beer lines at the stadium are very long. Some wait times were over 30 minutes.
Live Rugby World Cup match – Wales vs Portugal
Our first live match in Nice is Wales v Portugal. Leading up to this match, we saw hundreds (maybe thousands?) of Wales fans wandering around Ville Nice proudly wearing their team’s jersey.
Initially, we thought the stadium would be mostly Wales fans. However, while there were certainly a majority of Welsh fans, there was also a lot of Portugal fans in the crowd.
We love going to games where fan support is relatively equal. Every tackle, every kick, every score results in loud cheering. It’s a fun atmosphere!
Although Portugal put up a fight, in the end, the final result is Wales 28-8. See match recap here.
Pre-game beer in our fancy new Nice souvenir cups. More photos from this match here.
Okay, so maybe there were more Wales fans in attendance at this match.
Notice the rain is gone and the sun came out! This fan loves the sunshine.
Live Rugby World Cup match – Italy vs Uruguay
Our second live rugby match in Nice is a few days later. The first match (Wales v Portugal) is on Saturday, and this match is on Wednesday. This is a big reason why we chose to attend these particular matches. It meant less gap between matches.
This was a highly entertaining match. Going into the half, Uruguay was up 17-7.
However, Italy came on strong in the second half and won the match convincingly. Here’s the match recap and highlights.
Watch this short reel from the Italy vs Uruguay match in Nice, France.
Pre-game family selfie at field level. Our seats for this match were great. About 15 rows from the field.
Strong Italy support at this match. This makes sense, given that Nice is only 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the French-Italian border.
See more photos from the Uruguay vs Italy match.
Fans watch the big screen as a penalty is being evaluated.
Nice Rugby Village
Every host city at France Rugby World Cup has a Rugby Village. These villages show the live rugby matches on big screens so fans can come together to watch and celebrate. These venues also offer food, drinks, entertainment and official merchandise stores.
We visited the Nice Rugby Village for a France vs Uruguay match. It was a packed venue that evening! I would estimate a few thousand people showed up to watch the game.
The Nice Rugby Village is only open for 16 days, between 8 September and 28 October, 2023. Check the schedule here.
We made the mistake of assuming that the village is open for every match. This is not the case.
More info about the Nice Rugby Village here.
The Théâtre de Verdure de Nice is a comfortable spot to watch the rugby matches.
Stade de Marseille – Velodrome Stadium, Marseille
Although the stadium is dressed for Rugby World Cup matches, see photos above and below, we were actually in Marseille to attend a soccer match.
The stadium is home to Olympique de Marseille (or OM), a French professional soccer club based in Marseille that competes in Ligue 1.
Because we had a 3 day gap between rugby matches, we decided to do an overnight trip to Marseille. It’s only a 2.5 hour train from Nice to Marseille.
We watched the Marseille vs Toulouse match.
Watch this short reel to see the passion of Marseille fans. Madness! It’s fun to witness… from a distance.
Marseille Rugby Village, located at Vieux Port.
After the soccer match, we intended to visit the Marseille Rugby Village to watch the England v Japan game. However, the venue was closed?
The village was open earlier that day, so we were surprised that it was closed when we returned later that day. Perhaps it had something to do with the soccer match being played that evening? We are not sure. Regardless, it was disappointing.
We like seeing the Coupe du monde de Rugby signs throughout the host cities.
Because the Rugby Village was closed, we decided to watch the game outdoors at a brasserie.
Many brasseries in Marseille have televisions playing the rugby matches. It’s nice to sit outdoors and watch the game with other fans.
However, we are not fans of the smoking rules in France. The French do not care if they blow smoke directly in your face, or your children’s face. It’s pretty gross.
Paris Rugby Village
The largest Rugby Village at the France World Cup is in Paris. This venue is open for 25 days during the world cup, between 8 September and 28 October, 2023.
After our time in Nice, we took the train to Paris and spent a few nights there before returning home.
On our final day in Paris, we visited the Paris Rugby Village. There were 3 matches that day, with the big match being Ireland vs South Africa at Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Paris). The village was full of Irish fans, as you can see in these photos.
As we wandered around Paris that afternoon, we passed hundreds or proud Irish fans wearing their green jerseys. Paris had a celebratory energy that day.
The running joke that day was, “who’s left in Ireland to keep the lights on”?!
Kid’s can practice their skills at this turf field inside the Paris Rugby Village.
And that’s a wrap on our recap from the Rugby World Cup in France!
Given the 7 week length of the event, our 10 days in France is only a small slice of the overall event spread across the country. It’s a fun tournament that brings in passionate fans from around the world. France did a good job hosting.
Are we going to 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia?
Yes! We hope so. It’s four years away, so a lot can happen from now until then. However, our plan is to get tickets for the next world cup.
Although, we’re not sure if we will bring our boys for that one. They will be teenagers at that time, so they probably won’t want to come anyways.
Have you been to a Rugby World Cup?
How was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.