Grand Slam Plan Progress Update: 50% Complete

I’m now well into the fan slam, with two slams complete and two to go. Here are some thoughts on the French Open.

At the French Open

Grand Slam Plan Summary

  • Grand Slam Tournaments attended to date in 2012: 2 (Australian Open, French Open)
  • Sessions of tennis attended live in May and June 2012 : 5 (Roland Garros qualifying, Day 3, Day 7, Day 8 and Day 10)
  • Top 10 men seen live: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (practicing), Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfied Tsonga, David Ferrer
  • Top 10 women seen live: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Sam Stosur, Caroline Wozniaki, Angelique Kerber
  • Items of Merchandise Purchased: 1 x Roland Garros T-Shirt. Restrained self from buying small sample of Roland Garros clay.
  • Pieces of cheese consumed : Countless but enjoyable
  • Litres of San Pelegrino sparkling water consumed while at Roland Garros : At least 8 litres, all in 500 ml bottles for compliance purposes.

Key Roland Garros learnings

  • Tickets to Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen are both great options. Matches that include the top seeds are spread around both courts in the early rounds.
  • The clay looks magnificent in real life and in photos, as do the players
  • Roland Garros crowds don’t fill up until after lunch has finished, generally after about 5 games have been played.
  • Give up trying to understand why the crowd is clapping, cheering or booing, unless there is a French person playing, in which case it is obvious.
  • Bring food and drink to the grounds with you. Bring a lot because you can be there from 11am to 9pm.
  • While the Garden Bar and Restaurant area can have long queues during the day, it’s a peaceful place to sit and watch matches on the TV screen at the end of the day.
  • Get your Roland Garros iPhone app and internet access so that you can keep up with play on other courts (refer to note about internet access below).
  • There is no leg room in Court Suzanne Lenglen and the seats don’t tilt up so that you can stand up and let people pass.
  • Ticketing controls are tight. You must have your ID to get in to the grounds and you need a pass out to get back to your ticketed seat. There are no pass outs to leave and re-enter the grounds, even when it rains.
  • To avoid heavy crowding at the sides of Court Suzanne Lenglen, wait until a match or set has started, rather than going out during the break in play.
  • Girlie tip: The queue is way smaller and faster moving at the toilets near Gate I compared to those at the side of Court SL
  • Although the volumes are different, wine costs the same as water in the restaurant (4 Euros). A small can of drink at the grounds is 3 Euros.

Key learnings about Paris

  • Paris is a beautiful city, especially at night
  • There is a lot of cheese and it is all good
  • Expect smoking, even outside in restaurants
  • Expect stairs, especially in The Metro
  • Expect to see duck, salmon, chicken and cheese frequently on French menus and also in Thai restaurants
  • Paris is a late night kind of city. A Paris street can look dead and deserted in the morning but be lively and buzzing later in the day. Restaurants serve food until late and people eat late.
  • Some shops don’t open every day or on Sundays, some shops open at 11am and shut for a few hours in the afternoon
  • Fitting rooms in stores are hot, regardless of the weather outside. Be prepared to queue for fitting rooms and to buy items if you pick the wrong time and place to shop.

I wasn’t there for the finals but Rafael Nadal winning his record 7th Roland Garros title, and Maria Sharapova achieving her career grand slam was an awesome way for the 2012 French Open to finish.

For more Roland Garros read Roland Garros through the eyes of an Australian Open regular and view the 2012 Roland Garros photo gallery.

Notes on mobile internet access in Paris

Disregard these notes if you have a reasonably priced data roaming plan.

Unlike a lot of countries it turned out to be difficult to find a Pay As You Go Sim card that we could put in to an iPhone to get reasonably priced data access on our phones. A friend of mine activated a free Pay-As-You-Go sim while we were there but she needed her Passport number, local address and other information to do so. That sim card was too big for an iPhone and we weren’t able to find a shop that could cut it down for us.

In some respects we were asking the wrong the questions and the language barrier got in the way. We ended up getting an Orange sim for 7 days, total cost was 15 Euro which included 5 Euro of calls or SMS and unlimited data via Safari.

If you have other info about mobile internet access in Paris that could be useful for others who visit, please leave a comment and let me know.

Onward now to Wimbledon…

Until next time

Grand Slam Gal

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