Game Set and Match
This year I finally got tickets to the French Open, or more fondly known by the French as Roland Garros (with a strong roll of all those 'R's!) - the very first professional tennis tournament I've ever been to despite being a big fan. I've been to some of the venues ... Melbourne Park - the home of the Australia Open, Wimbledon and it's lovely museum, but never when the tennis was on !
So I persuaded my avid tennis fan friend Grainne and off we went on a two day tennis trip to Paris in May!
If you haven't been to Paris or simply not for some time...GO (again)! Even though it's not long ago since I was there I forgot just how lovely it is. It's particularly nice if you stay right in the heart of the city. It's so impressive to emerge from the metro into the gorgeous wide tree-lined boulevards of Paris.
We flew with Aer Lingus into Charles de Gaulle airport and took the RER B train into Paris. So easy! We hopped off at Chatelet and changed to the metro, two short stops later we were at 'Madeleine' where we stayed in the Hotel de l'Arcade. Really nice clean hotel in a great location (in the 8th district). You can easily explore the city from here and walk to the river, Champs Elysees, Gallerie La Fayette, La Concorde etc. If you can't walk you can take the metro to whatever area you want to explore.
On Monday, we had breakfast in a nearby cafe (my eggs Benedict came with a huge plate of chips at 9am but that's another story!!) and took the metro to the Bois de Boulogne, stop Porte d'Auteuil. At the metro station, already the stewards from Roland Garros welcomed people and we followed an orderly line all the way to the Stadium. An efficient security system meant we were in in what seemed like no time. I had tickets for the new court Simone Matthieu which opened for the first time this year!
The first such court or stadium of its kind - it's a sunken court built into the ground and disguised as a glasshouse in the botanical gardens! Glasshouse or no glasshouse it was all tennis when I was there in seat 101 just metres from the tennis stars
My highlight was Stan 'the Man' Wawrinka and Ash Barty who went on to win the women's tournament.
If you have a ticket for any one of the three main courts: Phillipe Chartrier, Suzanne Lenglen or Simone Matthieu you can also get into the outside courts for free. But be warned ... there will be queues for some courts with popular players on them. You can follow everything on the excellent Roland Garros app.
If you are a tennis fan there's no doubt the first week is the best to see lots of tennis at a reasonable price. You can see singles, doubles and even if you don't want to see any tennis at all you can sip some champagne in the Orangerie! (Why not?) I'm quite sure you've a good chance of bumping into Boris Becker or at least someone famous there!
Apart from the tennis we still had time to see some more of the city. We had to go and see Notre Dame and despite the terrible fire that has destroyed much of the building it still remains a huge tourist attraction. (It still looks good to me from the front but the whole area is totally cordoned off).
On Tuesday morning we went to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. It's much more touristy than I remember but well worth the hike to the top where the views over Paris are amazing. And if you want to have coffee and really feel like you are in a French movie go to 'Le Progres' cafe, 7 Rue des Trois Freres just down the road... no fuss, so French and yummy baguette.
You can never have enough of this city ... it is chic but not overly so. Most Parisiens dress very sensibly always with good walking shoes and a rain Mac ... even in May the weather can be as unpredictable as here at home.
If you are planning a city trip to Paris or considering a trip to a tennis tournament why not call into Kanes Travel and let us do the work for you?
Written by Claire Mulcahy