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Get Out & Listen! French Podcasts on Sports and Athletes

I have a passion: podcasts. I am one of these people who can’t resist saying (in every single conversation I have), “You’re reminding me of a great podcast you totally should listen to!” I just can’t help it. My job helps explain this: I am one of the podcasters for  French Morning where I produce the weekly show, French Expat. 

I fell in love with podcasts during my maternity leave back in 2018. I was looking for great adventures to transport me out of the day-to-day and my apartment. But more than anything, I needed it to be hands free so that I could fold laundry, change diapers, and cuddle my newborn son. Nowadays, for me–and everyone, I think–one of the strongest appeals of listening to podcasts is time efficiency! I listen while doing something else important to myself or my family like making dinner, painting or working out. 

So, I am delighted to have been asked by Caitlin Shetterly to become a regular on Le Weekend where I can share podcast reviews and curated selections with Frenchly readers. Since I’ll focus on French-speaking podcasts, I thought I’d put together a scale to help you gauge what may be most accessible to you using both the length of the episode and accessibility as my rubric for those for whom French is a second language. 

So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve figured out for Frenchly readers: one headphone, like this: 🎧  is for shorter and more tractable French and up to three headphones like this:  🎧 🎧 🎧  for longer and more complex. 

This week I have selected podcasts about running, one of our French Morning team’s favorite weekend activities. Although, I must admit, I am not a runner myself any longer, I still enjoy listening to inspiring stories from athletes who, quite literally, went the extra mile to achieve something incredible. I like remembering running with my dad back home along the shore near Brest, France when I was a teenager. I was trying so hard to impress him, I’d always pick very hilly trails on the GR34, a famous hiking path going from Mont Saint Michel to Saint Nazaire along the rocky cliffs…this now sounds…exhausting to old me.

My criteria for this selection was simple: which ones particularly inspire me? I hope you’ll give them a listen and get inspired, too. Frankly, after listening, I almost want to dig my old running shoes out of my closet and lace them up this weekend!

Du sport  🎧  

What it’s about

Du Sport (literally “sport”) is a show dedicated to documenting the culture of sports. It is produced by Binge Audio 

What I like about this show

I am a huge fan of Anne-Cécile Genre, a French film and podcast maker who lives in both Paris and Brooklyn, NY. Her approach is unique: These 16 episodes delve deeply into the culture of sports and she asks intelligent questions about all kinds of clichés western society has about sports.

An episode not to miss

The episode “A quoi ça sert de courir?” (what’s the point of running?) uses unique questions to explain the phenomenon of running like, why do you use your arms when you run? This podcast may change the way you think of running. The host narrates the podcast while running which is … quite surprising and exciting. Don’t miss her interview of Guillaume Le Blanc, a French philosopher, and marathonian. 

Extraterrien 🎧  🎧 

What it’s about

The name is a pun: instead of extra-terrestrial inhabitants, this show is a reference to the superpower conferred to athletes, extraterrien (inhabitants to planet earth, literally the earth itself, the terre in French). In this show, Barthelemy Fendt interviews inspiring professional athletes. Each episode focuses on the guests’ personal story and delivers very practical tips to help you improve physical training as well as mental prep.

What I like about it

Extraterrien’s episodes cover all kinds of sports from ultra trail running to swimming, from badminton to karate. Fendt is a great interviewer and has a very inclusive approach in his choice of guests–if you’re doing something cool, he’s into it, no matter who you are!  The episodes are typically fairly long (often over the hour mark) which is the perfect length to get ready for a run, go run and then recover while listening to the last little bit. 

An episode you should not miss

Episode #90 Ayọdélé Ikúẹ̀san (Sprint): Ayọdélé is a talented sprinter with a successful career, especially in the relay 4 x 100 metres. She is also a member of the French Olympic national committee and her mission is to advocate for the athletes’ interests. And her resume also boasts that she is the associate mayor for the health of the people in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. She discusses her career on Fendt’s podcast and shares the strategies she put into place to lead such a multifaceted and successful life. This is a truly inspiring podcast. 

Le Podcast de Pauline Laigneau : Stephanie Gicquel 🎧  🎧  🎧  

What it’s about

This is actually one of the very first podcasts I ever listened to. This show is not particularly about sports but more about success. Pauline Laigneau is an entrepreneur (founder of Gemmyo, a Parisian and trendy jewelry brand). Once a week, she has a sit down with an artist, entrepreneur, athlete, and pretty much anyone who has achieved success in any way. She asks them how they got to where they are today. It is such a simple concept, but what I like is that she discusses what did not work as much as what did. This is “real talk” only. Once a week, she also publishes a second episode, called “la leçon” (literally the lesson) where she provides very practical answers for someone from her audience (most often about management, work culture and entrepreneurship).

What I like about it

Laigneau has created an entire ecosystem around her podcast: a short and curated list of things to discover in a weekly newsletter, some concise and qualitative advice and tips in a weekly lesson, a monthly book club and an inspiring weekly episode. 

An episode not to miss

Hands down, one of the episodes I’ve recommended most to my entourage is Stephanie Gicquel’s story. She was the first woman to cross the Antarctic continent by foot and ski. Her story is truly fascinating as she pivoted entirely from a comfortable legal career to a true adventurer lifestyle, running 30 hour ultra marathons on the weekends despite her challenging day job as a trial lawyer. It is a long episode, but definitely worth your time.

Dans la tête d’un coureur 🎧  to 🎧  🎧 

What it’s about

This podcast’s name translates to “in the runner’s head.” Here we focus on running only.

I love that this podcast is truly for everyone: guests and their audience. Every Monday, Fred, the host, answers very practical questions about running like how to challenge myself without running competitions or how to increase training volume in 5 minutes. The podcast also features interesting interviews.

What I like about this show

I love that this podcast is entirely dedicated to running and that, despite this focus, it keeps on surprising me with unique interview angles as well as with interesting life lessons. 

An episode not to miss

Interview Roxana Maracineanu, un nouveau départ pour le running / Paris Running Festival

This interview aired at the end of May 2021 for the first running event (Paris Running Festival) in France since the beginning of the pandemic. It focuses on the impact of running on climate change and is an interview with the French Ministre deleguée aux sports. 

Still want to listen? Frenchly has 7 Podcasts about life in France, here.

 

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