Les Hoops

Basketball2The world’s oldest surviving basketball court can be found in the basement of a building in the city’s 9th arrondissement. But how did Paris come to be one of the earliest homes of a sport invented in America? To find the answer, we need to push open the doors of a YMCA hostel on the rue Trévise.

The recent Journées du Patrimoine (heritage days) event gave me the opportunity to discover a little-known location – and a Paris claim to fame  that few people are aware of. Yes, the oldest (surviving) basketball court in the world really is in Paris, but it is just one part of a unique building in the city.

harlem globetrotters in franceAt the origin of this building – and of the sport of basketball – is the YMCA, an international christian organisation that originated in the UK. From its origins, the organisation placed an emphasis on the development of three elements; a healthy “body, mind, and spirit.” This trio is still represented today by the triangle in the organisation’s logo.

Following these principles, any YMCA construction would necessarilly place an importance on facilities for sport and exercise, and their first Paris building would be no exception. In this building, which dates from 1892, the entire basement level is given over to such facilities. 

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