French-Style Table Construction
In the French language the game is called baby foot. This essentially translated as miniature football and is referred this way in France as well as Quebec, Canada.
French Playing Style
Due to the extra "tackiness" from the cork balls and blocked feet, French play is described as finesse and fluid. The ball can be maneuvered from a pinned position and "walked" from side to side in order to complete a pass or a shot. It is easy to pin the ball between the man's foot and the playfield without losing it, so most shots and passes performed on these tables are executed from the pin position.
French Table Design Characteristics
French tables typically are identified by having "telescoping" rods that don't protrude out of the other side. Parents love this design feature because it is safe for their kids who might otherwise get hit with a rod coming through the table. Their men are made of metal or aluminum along with a cork ball and softer and grippier play field surfaces..
These softer playing surfaces are made out of materials like linoleum and are known as "clay courts". This transforms the style of play to the complete opposite end of the spectrum from German and American styles. The men are heavy (non-balanced) and it is combined with a very light and soft cork ball that essentially stamps it down on the table and makes it easy to maneuver. Couple that with the clay court surface and you have a sticky feel that is great for pinning and finesse play. In the US, you won't find many people using French designs. However, Bonzini does sell their product line through Bonzini USA.