31 May 2011

Roland Garros...some thoughts.

Right, I've been back from Paris for a day now and have had a bit of time to think about what I want to say about the French Open. It was certainly amazing to watch live tennis - plop me in a stadium anywhere watching tennis and I'm happy. But outside the stadium I admit I found things a bit of struggle but I feel a bit bad just being negative when I feel absurdly lucky to have had the opportunity to attend. I just have a lot to compare it with - the US Open, Olympics and the Aussie Open, so here are some thoughts:

The good:
Clay is beautiful
Short food queues - I was quite amazed that the queues for food and drink were quite short. I don't think I ever waited more than a few minutes to buy something. That is quite amazing for any event - music, sports etc.

Mobile phone charger stations - brilliant idea, but I reckon they should be set on a 15 or 20 minute time limit else you get people standing there charging forever. They actually had three stations but I only knew of the main one by the big screen until the very end of my two days. Great idea tho and I took advantage (and nearly had my phone broken but a superbly important French teen who had his phone hooked up on the two-inch cord and still needed to have a conversation. He knocked my phone off the charger and a metre to the ground. I wanted to pull his hair)

Tidy bathrooms without long queues. My fave bathroom had an attendant with a tip jar and it was lovely. No portaloos or toilets in a trailer in Paris....and very short queues. It was fab.

The food - lovely baguettes, very good coffee and loved the donuts to start my day. The sushi was crazy expensive so never partook in that but overall I thought the food was decent. I got too lazy to bring much in this time other than fruit but as far as I'm aware you can bring in what you like

The clay - I have yet to see live grass tennis (give me another week and that will be a different story) but wow there is something special about seeing that beautiful orange clay in person. It's just stunning.

The less than good:

Nearly dark...time to go home!
Lack of water fountains. I challenge you to try and find the water fountains around the grounds of the French Open without using a map or asking for help. There are literally three taps on the grounds other than those in the toilets (and they are green so they kinda of blend into the bushes behind them). Not great during super hot days with tens of thousands of people who may not want to spend a few Euros on a bottle of water.

On the water bottle front, on the second day I was not allowed to bring in my metal water bottle which I had brought in on my first day. I did throw a small tantrum about this as it screamed absurdity to me. I don't know what the logic was but it's ridiculous that the tourney would be so environmentally unfriendly. I literally had to check in my bottle and pick it up at the end of the day. I'd have had more satisfaction throwing it at my bag check person.

Smoke - seriously, other than small children it seemed everyone at the French Open walked around the grounds smoking. It was awful and I thought I would leave with several ciggie burns from people swinging their arms holding a cigarette. People don't just smoke while walking on the grounds, they smoke inside the stadium. So wrong.

Lack of lights
- a real problem for the French Open is a lack of lights. It's not just a bummer for the fans, but also the players as well. I think either start earlier (no reason IMO to start at 2pm during QF) or add some lights at least to the main two stadiums. I'm not saying I didn't get my money's worth on Suzanne Lenglen  b/w the Fognini/Montanes and JJ/Fran matches and part of Ferrer/Monfils, but one reason I bought the SL ticket was to see Sveta/Dani and because of the length of other matches (and no chance of a late match) it got moved to another court.

Just try and read me you silly American

Lack of any English on the programmes.
I was really disappointed that the official programme and daily newspapers were all in French. Yes, I know we're in France, but this is still an international event and I was bummed to not have a programme I could read. I have a programme from every tourney I've ever attended and I cherish them. Yes, I could have spent 11 Euros on a programme I couldn't read but didn't see the point. Couldn't they do one with two languages, like airlines do?

Much more to say, but that's it for now - anything you're curious about just shoot!

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