If you’re going to the French Open for the first time, here are some tips on what to expect.
Also check out the comprehensive Spectator Guide 2012 There are people giving out printed copies of the Spectator Guide as you wait to get in.
Check this list of Roland Garros essentials for my suggestions on things you can bring for an enjoyable day.
If there is a possibility of rain or allergies, be extra prepared
At the moment Roland Garros doesn’t have any courts with roofs, so when it rains, play stops. For spectators there isn’t a lot of covered space to shelter in – during my 2010 visit I spent a lot of time huddling under the stair well!
Make sure you bring a waterproof jacket and have some something handy for wiping your seat dry before you sit back down on it.
On the plus side, there are plans underway to redevelop Roland Garros, which include adding a roof to Centre Court.
If you’re prone to allergies, there is a possibility that you might react to the clay dust in the air, particularly if it’s a windy day. We found this out the hard way when BallBoy unexpectedly turned out to be allergic to clay (actually it’s probably pollen more than clay). This year he will take allergy medications on the days that we’ll be at Roland Garros and he’ll enjoy it a lot more!
Read more in Beware Roland Garros… if you’re allergic to clay.
Bring your own food
There is a variety of food available but like any big event, you’ll pay more than you would somewhere else.
Take advantage of being able to bring food in with you (I believe the policy is no glass bottles or cans and drinks must be less an 1 litre). Pick up a baguette, a quiche, some cheese, croissants or other tasty French delights and bring them with you to eat during the day.
Make sure you’ve done what’s required for your tickets
Follow the ticketing requirements that have been emailed to you and make sure you bring your ID with you. When I first went I wondered how they could check everyone’s ID at the gate but the system is really efficient, one person scans your print out and prints your tickets and the next person checks the name on the ticket with the name on the ID.
Other tips for a visit to Paris
- Try to resist buying an Eiffel Tower keyring from one of the many people selling them around the city
- The Metro is a good way to get around, keep your Metro map with you all the time, and a bottle of water
- Expect stairs; there are stairs in the Metro, to get to your seat at Roland Garros, and generally to see things around Paris
- Shops open later than I’m used to and stay open later too (approx 11am to 7pm), and sometimes shut for a period in the afternoon (as do restaurants). Not many shops were open on Sunday.
- People smoke in restaurants – this is useful to note if you’re a non smoker, especially if you’re Australian and used to No Smoking when you’re eating. In Paris, if you eat outside, there will probably be a smoker right next to you.
- I’ve always found people in Paris to be incredibly helpful but if English is your first language, don’t assume that everyone speaks English, first politely ask “Parlez-vous Anglais”.
Have you been to Roland Garros? If so do you have any other tips for first time visitors?
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal