Trying the French Open instead of Wimbledon
Last Updated on 24th July 2020
Here in the UK we love watching a bit of tennis in the Summer! Well … normally just those two weeks at Wimbledon and then most of us go back to not knowing that much about tennis for the rest of the year. However during that Wimbledon fortnight we talk fondly about ‘Murray Mound’, whether they’ll need to put up the roof on Center Court due to the imminent rain, and of course the delights of sampling strawberries & cream.
But as with most ticketed sporting events in the UK it’s usually difficult to get actual tickets unless you plan well in advance .. or get lucky. But this year we thought we’d try The French Open instead!
Let’s on a whim go to Roland Garros
However there is an alternative. Back in 2015 my mum and I decided to apply for May’s French Open at Roland Garros instead, sourcing the tickets through https://tickets.rolandgarros.com/. Compared to Wimbledon buying tickets seemed somewhat easier with no need to enter a “ballot”. We simply registered at Rolandgarros.com and then followed the advice for oversees visitors from their timely emails.
We purchased two tickets for the Suzanne Lenglen court west stand at €55 each (their equivalent of Wimbledon number 1 court) and then two €30 ground pass tickets for two days later giving us a day in-between to explore the Palais de Versailles close by. VIP style package deals were available too but we were happy settling for the standard ticket options.
Visiting the actual event seemed far easier too with the whole experience coming across as far more relaxed and chilled out. It was strange though seeing the orange clay rather than Wimbledon’s luscious green grass.
Getting to The French Open
We travelled to Paris on the Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris Gare de Nord and stayed in the two star Hotel B Paris Boulogne in the Boulogne Billancourt district which is just a 20 minutes (1.7km) walk from the Roland Garros ground. We chose this hotel specifically for its location.
What’s is like when you’re in there?
There isn’t a “Murray Mound” grassy bank as I’m so used to seeing at Wimbledon. Instead there’s a circular area called “Place des Mousquetaires” that sits sandwiched in-between Philippe-Chatrier Court and No 1 courts. This appeared to be the epicenter with a big TV screen and was a nice place to gather.
The onsite gift shops were just as busy as Wimbledon’s. Although overall I liked the laid back atmosphere to the French Open, with its smaller scale to proceedings. It made me incredibly happy that it was this event that completed my mum’s ‘Grand Slam’. She’d already visited Wimbledon, Melbourne Park, Flushing Meadow … and now finally Roland Garros too.
What games did we see then?
On day 1 of our visit we purchased some Lavazza coffee (my favourite) from one of the food courts. Afterwards we sauntered into the almost empty Suzanne Lenglen stadium (we were early). There we watched Richard Gasquet in a men’s singles game and Bouchard in the ladies before heading to court 7 to see British hopeful Heather Watson in round 2. Being British we were much in the minority which is never the case at “Union Jack waving” Wimbledon.
After Heather’s game has finished we then got lucky while taking photos of the empty court. We realised that number 7 seed David Ferrer had just had his game rescheduled from one of the bigger courts. At which point we were already sitting right behind the players in row 1. Of course everybody else then piled back in but we already had the box seats!
All in all Roland Garros come highly recommended
As is the case with Wimbledon I found ambling around the grounds far more enjoyable than being sat on one of the show courts. I guess the proximity to the players is the main reason for that. So if you’ve ever tried to get tickets for Wimbledon but never been successful then give the French Open a try. You’ll get a little 2-3 holiday out of it too. Public tickets for The French Open are announced on 22nd March at https://tickets.rolandgarros.com/en/public/information#purchase-limits. If you are a member or are able to sign up in advance you might be offered tickets sooner 🙂
If you want to go to an Autumn tournament instead then consider going to the ATP tennis finals at the O2 in London? There again in November 2020 before heading to Turin in 2021.
If you like the idea of going to Paris but doing something a little bit more altogether energetic? Then how about running the Paris Marathon?!