Find out about coping with the random weather conditions experienced during the French Open, and some sights you can see while not watching tennis, including some spice.
This is a guest article by Liz Curran who attended Roland Garros 2013. Follow her on Twitter @lizcurran
I feel the need to write a few final things before the only clay court grand slam draws to a close with the men’s final between David Ferrer and Rafa Nadal.
For Rafa it will be his eighth final at Roland Garros, and astonishingly he has won all of the other seven, whereas for Ferrer it’s his first Grand Slam final. Getting to this final is a huge achievement and reward for his talent and many years of hard work.
The end of this Grand Slam is speeding towards us and I have been back in the UK for three days now and have already made the switch to grass, having just had my first glorious day watching grass court tennis ( at the Queens ATP 250 event for qualies and practice). So time is of the essence before the spirit of Roland Garros 2013 disappears into the ether.
You may find this post a little eclectic as I gather together my final thoughts.
Coping with the weather
Being a Brit I have to write something about the weather since it is our national obsession!
My Roland Garros 2013 was a game of two halves (in footy or soccer speak) or even four quarters. The first ten days were pretty hideous in terms of weather, and I was often wrapped up like a polar explorer hidden under hoodies and hats by the end of the day, whereas the last four days were beautiful and sunny.
Enjoy the sunshine
As I sat courtside in the sunshine of week two, watching the trees gently sway in the cooling breeze, all the hailstorms of qualies and the rainstorms and single digit temperatures of week one were miraculously forgotten and melted away in the sunshine.
Realistically, this being an outdoor tournament that takes place between 11am and sundown in late May to early June in northern France, you do really need to pack for four seasons in one day.
Come prepared for all weather conditions
The other thing about Roland Garros is that there is no re-entry in to the site so once you are in you are in for the day. There’s no escaping to a café for a coffee or to your apartment for a shower and change of clothing. So you need to come prepared to tough it out through all weather conditions.
In the first week I was wearing all of my many layers and even a woolly hat once the sun went down over the stadia at around 8.30pm. And if it rains you have very few places to hide so an umbrella and / or maybe a stylish (!?) Roland Garros poncho is your choice of rain protection.
There’s not a lot of shelter at Roland Garros
There is some shelter on site but not a lot for the numbers of people that are there. Unless of course you’re lucky enough to be there with a hospitality ticket and have access to the Village (which I wasn’t). So when it rained I spent time standing on the concrete under the Suzanne Lenglen court overhangs and also in the corridors around Philippe Chatrier.
The human spirit during rain delays shows eternal optimism, by just getting on with it stoically, hiding under an umbrella, getting out a pack of cards or chatting to the previously unknown people you end up standing next to in the corridor. I was impressed.
But overall I think the French tournament is the most challenging in terms of lack of places to hide when it rains. One of the best places to be in a rain delay is on the three or four rows of Court 2 which hide under Court 3. I couldn’t get into these during one rain delay but I looked on in envy.
But when the sun comes out then the Roland Garros site is as beautiful, if not more beautiful than any of the other three slams. And then all is forgiven and mostly forgotten!
Away from Roland Garros
A great thing to do when the weather is inclement or if you have a day off is to explore Paris.
The four grand slam tournaments are all in amazing locations so this is very tempting option. After looking at the weather forecast I chose to ditch the final day of qualifying for a rest day when I stayed in my apartment and then took a late afternoon trip up to central Paris.
The Pompidou Centre
I ended up somewhat randomly in the Pompidou Centre, near Les Halles shopping centre. There I bought a ticket for 3 Euros that took me to the top for a lovely view over Paris, and then I discovered that this also gave me access to an amazing contemporary art collection. This was a real treat. There are many more galleries in Paris to see and it’s actually quite nice to take a day off the tennis and see something different.
And of course, the Eiffel Tower
There’s also the Eiffel Tower, which, even if you don’t go up is beautiful to look at from ground level. There was really positive party atmosphere around the area on the Saturday evening that I visited.
Let’s finish with a pic that made me smile…
Until next time, enjoy the Men’s Final.