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!


  1. I'm in Paris now, attending the 2018 French Open. This completes my tennis grand slam (attendance wise). I'm enjoying the French Open very much. On the negative side, I was stunned by the lack of water fountains. As far as I know, there are no public water fountains in Roland Garros' three show courts. And after a week, I only found one water fountain on the grounds (although I understand from your post that there are three altogether). A second negative: I was taking a nap on one of the few patches of grass around Roland Garros -- until a security guard politely nudged and told me, "No napping allowed." A third negative: While the food was good, the variety generally offered was limited -- basically only sandwiches, salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, waffles and crepes. A fourth negative: the grounds are very small and cramped. You can get stuck for half an hour in a pedestrian bottleneck, and there's comparatively very little seating on the side courts so if you have only a ground pass, you will have more trouble seeing live tennis at the French Open than at the other majors.

  2. Steph - Thank you for your tennis blog. Good stuff!

    I just attended the 2018 French Open. Here's what I found to be "less than good": (1) Food - The main 3 offerings were sandwiches, salads and hot dogs. I really expected more and better from the country that I consider to be the food capital of the world. (2) Lack of Seating on the Side Courts - Unlike the other 3 Majors where a ground pass could assure you of a whole day of live tennis at more or less any side court or courts you choose to go to, the profound lack of seating at Roland Garros' side courts means that ground pass holders' tennis watching would mostly be limited to the big TV screens on the grounds. (3) Pedestrian Traffic Jams - The grounds are so small that it can be very difficult just to walk. Once I tried to go to Court 18 and got stuck at a pedestrian traffic jam outside Suzanne Lenglen for 30 minutes. (4) Lack of Water Fountains - I only found one water fountain in the middle of a dining area/food court. You said you found three water fountains -- do you remember where they were?

    1. Thanks Tim! Sorry for the late replies I am not getting emails on comments.

      I agree that the food onsite is pretty wretched. Sad to hear it hasn't improved in 7 years since I was there. Roland Garros is so hard on a grounds pass. You really do have to pick a court and stick to it, and the grounds are so packed.

      I remember there was one water fountain area near bathrooms. I think it was around a corner from the main walkway with the food courts. But yes, it just did not impress me and is hard work. Hope you enjoyed some good tennis at least!