Read a fabulous review of what it’s like to spend a few days as a tennis fan in Paris for Roland Garros. Be warned that reading it will make you want to go there! It brought back so many memories for me.
Huge thanks to Joe, @ProdigyRep for sharing this fabulous article on visiting Paris for Roland Garros.
Being a big Tennis fan living in the UK, I’ve always been lucky to be able to attend Wimbledon on multiple occasions. However, attending a slam overseas (all of them eventually) had always been a huge goal for me and after initial plans to attend the US Open this year seemed rather far fetched due to money constraints, I thought it would be much easier and cheaper to plan a trip to Roland Garros, given France is basically an hours flight from Manchester where I reside. So with the idea in my head about heading to Roland Garros, I went about planning my trip. I also invited my good friend @przemusiowa along for the trip, as I always love to share Tennis trips with likeminded Tennis fans!
I’m usually quite casual with how I book my trips and I don’t book flights, hotels etc in any particular order. However I would recommend booking your hotel WAY in advance for Roland Garros as Paris has expensive accommodation at the best of times, during a slam they do ramp up the prices from what I gathered. Obviously the most important thing of the trip was booking the tickets to Roland Garros itself. Everyone was going on about how difficult it was and the fact that the site often crashed etc. However after pulling an all nighter to ensure I was awake on time to buy the tickets (yes I always oversleep), I was ready at 9am GMT (10am CET) for the ticket sale and I found it VERY easy. The queue list had me in at about 500, but was not refreshing at first, so I opened a new window just in case and it retained my position of 500 and then started moving down. Once I reached the end of the queue I was easily able to navigate the site and buy tickets for one day on Chatrier and two days of grounds passes. The tickets were available to assign a few weeks later and my friend got hers via email really easily. Tickets went on sale late March.
So after months of anticipation it was finally time to head to Roland Garros. A trip I didn’t think I would even do at the start of the year was becoming a reality. It had always been my dream to visit Paris and tying it in with visiting my first grand slam overseas was just the perfect trip!
The Paris Experience
On the first day, we decided that it would be easy if we used this day to explore Paris, since our flights were early morning, we’d have all day to do this which was better than having to rush from CDG Airport to our hotel and then onto Roland Garros.
Taxis to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport
Both our flights arrived on time and we quickly left the terminal to get a taxi, which was waiting outside, there’s lots so don’t worry about that. The taxi to our hotel, Hôtel Median Paris Porte de Versailles, cost 55 euros flat rate and I believe that’s the same to any destination in central Paris from CDG via one of these taxis. I think it’s more via private hire as our taxi back to the airport cost 65 euros.
Uber seems to be roughly the same price looking at their prices.
We arrived at our Hotel after about an hour of driving. Although Google Maps said it was about a 30 minute journey, do allow over an hour because the traffic heading into Paris is crazy!
Exploring the city
We arrived before the check in time at the Hotel, but thankfully they let us check in early for free and we dropped our bags and headed towards the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was about a 45 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and although I guess it would have been quicker to get public transport, I do recommend walking as much as possible in Paris. The City is beautiful and during our walk we saw lots of lovely old Parisian architecture and walked past such a nice outdoor market selling everything from food to arts and crafts, and it was so busy too which was nice to see!
The walk was very easy which was the case for all of our walks throughout the time we spent there, we didn’t use public transport once and only used taxis twice to the airport and once from Roland Garros back to the Hotel when it was raining.
On arrival at the Eiffel Tower I was just in awe at the structure of the building. It was much larger than I expected and looked so nice! I posed for so many pictures by it! One thing I would be careful of when you do go there is of the people trying to sell you souvenirs and even water! My advice is to not carry cash wherever possible in these areas, get a prepaid euros card as they are just as good! I had a guy wrapping a wristband around me and asking me for money for it, thankfully since I didn’t have cash I didn’t have to pay for it! Be warned. Our ticket up the Eiffel tower was not until later in the afternoon, so we were able to take a quick walk to the Arch De Triomphe, which was really nice to see, the roundabout there is crazy!
After a quick trip to McDonald’s on the Champs Elysees (it’s more posh in France than the UK), we headed back to the Eiffel tower. Although I don’t think the queue was that long for those without tickets, we did buy tickets to the 2nd floor and then queued from there for tickets to the top. The view is amazing no doubt and climbing the tower is a must for anyone visiting Paris! Unfortunately after this we were both tired and didn’t have the energy to do any more in Paris this day. It was our only day of real exploring and it wasn’t enough. I’d recommended at least 2 full days are needed for exploring Paris! On one of the nights after RG we did go to a really lovely Pizza place called Pizza Des As (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d10256482-Reviews-Pizza_des_as-Paris_Ile_de_France.html) it was about a 10-15 minute walk from RG and it was really nice! If you want a certain cuisine just search this in Google maps, this is what we did for Pizza Des As and it was nice!
Attending Roland Garros
Talking of Google Maps, it was so helpful in helping us get to and from RG. Although the walk was really straight forward, in an area you don’t know it is such a helpful app. Our Hotel was about a 40 minute walk from Roland Garros, which was nice. We had a lovely stroll over the River Seine where we could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and further towards RG we could see the Parc De Princes the stadium of PSG, which was nice for me as a Football fan.
Heading up to the venue, everything was well sign posted towards it and there were guides ensuring everyone was going the right way. There were MULTIPLE security checks even before the main gates, on a guided walkway, which I found really re assuring. We were subject to bag checks and ticket checks as well as a pat down before arriving at Gate I, which then had even more bag checks and pat downs etc. A word of warning that deodorant spray is NOT allowed within RG, I had it confiscated on the second day there. Cameras also have a limit of 20mm lens when fully zoomed in.
After the security checks, you head to automated turnstiles where you scan your e-ticket / mobile ticket, I used the myRG app and found it really easy, it then prints a paper counterpart ticket for access into the grounds / stadiums. There are hosts/hostesses that check the tickets against your photo ID, which can be any form of drivers license or passport and then you are finally entered into the venue!
I have so many great memories from my 3 days at the tournament so I’ll try and share the best bits and the not so good bits. Obviously one of the highlights for me was watching matches on the Court Philippe Chatrier. We made sure to get tickets as near to the front as possible. Do be aware that there are tribune hospitality seats at the front of the stadium, so no matter what even with Cat1 tickets, you will not be right at the front of the stadium so the closer you get, the better. I was able to see Venus Williams (twice), Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Lucas Pouille. Rafael Nadal was also on Chatrier on this day but I regretfully did not see him (more about this later). The reason I was able to see Venus twice is because on the last day I was there (Friday 2nd June) they opened up Chatrier to anyone, because the court was empty and they wanted to fill it with more people which was great. This happened at other times in the tournament so even if you have just a ground pass keep an eye out for announcements on the big screens as they may open up Chatrier for grounds pass holders, which is a great unexpected bonus!
Ok, so before I mentioned the fact I missed Nadal’s match on Chatrier and the fact it was one of my biggest regrets of the fortnight. I wanted to go and see Nick Kyrgios play doubles as he is one of my favourite players and alongside Jordan Thompson he was facing home favourites Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on Court 3. My intention was to see the doubles match and head back for the Nadal match after the doubles was over, as doubles usually goes quicker. However I soon learned that both Court 3 and Court 2 are REALLY POPULAR courts and I was queueing forever for Court 3! Nadal rather unsurprisingly was blitzing through his match and the doubles was only just going into a second set by the time I got in to the court. So unfortunately I was unable to see any of Nadal, however the doubles was good fun so it wasn’t all bad! Court 2 and 3 were by far my favourite courts of the tournament. They were both really picturesque and intimate which is always good for tennis courts. I spent most of my time on these courts, watching players like Kyrgios, Ferrer, Lopez, Ostapenko, the Bryan Brothers etc.
The legroom on these courts is also brilliant too because most of the seats are benches, rather than full blown seating, and as someone with long legs I much preferred these type of seats. I also found Court 6 to be a nice intimate court, however the seating on the outside courts, not just this one, but also the other ones, was very cramped and terrible for a big guy like myself, so of course I was standing up on every changeover! I did find the grounds in general quite confusing at first but slowly got used to them. Everything is quite cramped which I’m not a huge fan of, they could really do with spreading things out a bit more. I also found that Courts 13-18 were a bit out of the way compared to the other courts, they were beyond court Suzanne Lenglen and just seemed hidden compared to the rest of the courts although this area was a bit less cramped.
Talking of Suzanne Lenglen, I definitely found the area round the back or this court the best for shade areas, there were plenty of empty benches to sit and cool down and relax. The food places were generally the same prices throughout the venue with something like a Baguette and a drink costing roughly 10 euros. The food is not cheap and the queues are quite long. Although I wouldn’t say it was with the money, the Ham and Cheese Baguettes were rather nice! The grounds in general are very packed so if you’re not a big fan of crowds, make sure to arrive early and scout some hidden away areas you can go if the crowds are getting too much for you.
Highlights of my time at the French Open
I have so many special memories from my 3 days at the tournament, so obviously I can’t put them all here, but I will share a couple. I think one of the main things I enjoyed was meeting with friends that I met through Tennis. I have gotten to know many people through following the sport and meeting up with them and chatting with them was a really special thing to be able to do. My favourite match of my time there was definitely Ferrer vs Lopez on Court 3. A real clay court battle which went 5 sets in the gruelling heat, you can’t beat that! I also liked seeing Jelena Ostapenko play because of the fact the went on to win the title, a real talent and she will win many more slams!
Overall I had such a great time during my time at RG. I’d like to thank all the people I spent time with during the tournament especially Sylwia who agreed to join me on the trip and was a great travel partner! I’ll definitely be returning next year.