All aboard the Fed express!

Roland Garros has always been on the bucket list, so to visit here and the Australian Open both in one year goes down as a definite success. After seeing Federer bow out to Tsitsipas in Melbourne, I was very keen to see him win here in France. Alas, it was not to be – the luck of the draw had it that Federer did not play either of the days we were there (even though we went consecutive days). At the time of writing this however, our boy Fed remains in the draw so fingers crossed for the championship win!

The grounds of Roland Garros are located on the south west outskirts of Paris and the easiest way to get there is by metro. From where we stayed, it was quite an exhausting trip. It’s about a ten minute walk from the station, but it’s fairly obvious where to go – helped by the crowds also en route. Unfortunately the entry points into the grounds are not as streamlined as those of Melbourne, nor are the facilities. Understandably, it’s quite high security, so it takes about 45 minutes to get in to the park. Toilets are quite scarce and there isn’t anywhere to fill up drink bottles (which ironically works in each other’s favour). Congestion  between the Suzanne Lenglen and Phillipe Chatrier courts is madness! In saying that, the clay courts are absolutely beautiful – the orange is even more striking that I had imagined.

A new court has opened this year: the Simonne Mathieu arena, which is at the far end of the park. If I came back I think I’d get tickets for here, as there were high standard games at cheaper prices. The arena is surrounded by greenhouses which feature flora from different continents, so it’s also rather a beautiful area and seemingly less crowded. We had tickets for Suzanne Lenglen, but sadly we couldn’t get tickets for Phillipe Chatrier. Buying tickets was hectic: they seem to sell out incredibly quickly, despite the stadiums feeling very empty – I would recommend being online as soon as they come on sale, and knowing in advance exactly what you want. Another handy tip is that you actually can’t buy tickets at the grounds; you need to have pre-purchased, and the name on the ticket must match the ID you produce.

We saw a variety of matches – mens, womens, singles and doubles. Being the first week, there were plenty of big names about but all of their matches tended to be pretty one sided. The best tennis actually came from the lesser ranked players, where the games were more even. I’m easily starstruck, so the opportunity to sit basically court side to big names playing on smaller courts left me feeling pretty inspired. In one instance, we could have reached out and touched the player when he was sitting on his bench! Rewind ten years (or give me more luggage space) and I would have been standing there with my extra large tennis ball waiting keenly for autographs 🙂

The weather was hilariously mixed – talk about four seasons in one day. Fortunately we had raincoats and umbrellas as the skies opened more than once, but lucky too that we had sunscreen and sun hats as it didn’t take much to become gloriously warm! We brought all of our own food, another recommendation, as at the grounds it’s over priced and the lines are massive. It also meant we didn’t have to miss any tennis, as we munched happily on our bakery quiches and pastries throughout the games.

Visiting Roland Garros was an epic experience and seeing the players on clay was truly awesome. I think that anyone who has been to the Australian Open has been spoilt, but the French Open is extremely unique. Seeing so many world class players in one place is an absolute treat. Two grand slams down, two to go… which will be next?!

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