I love watching tennis. It’s the only sport my husband and I agree on, and we’ve always wanted to watch one of the Grand Slams live. Australia and the US Open are a little out of our price range, and we hadn’t been organised enough to enter the ballot for Wimbledon tickets. The French Open however, seemed like a possibility. Tickets were easy to buy online, so we decided to combine our trip to the tennis with a holiday at the campsite at Berny Rivière, around an hour north of Paris.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, following a leisurely drive from Zeebrugge. The weather was glorious (apparently for the first time that year) so we made the most of the sunshine by enjoying takeaway pizza on the decking.
Our tickets for the tennis were for Wednesday and Thursday, so we had a few days on the campsite and in the local area, making the most of the fantastic weather.
After much deliberation (and making the most of the WiFi at the beach bar) we decided the easiest way to get into Paris would be to drive the car to Soissons station, where we would leave it overnight and take a train to Gare du Nord. Roland Garros is fairly central, and we didn’t fancy the stresses of dealing with Parisian traffic! Better still, parking is free at the station, and there were plenty of spaces available.
True to form, the train to Paris was on time. The journey took just over an hour, and from Gare du Nord we hopped on a metro to Porte d’Auteuill, which took about 40 minutes. We’d booked into a nearby hotel overnight, so headed there first. We checked in and got directions to Roland Garros, which was around a 20 minute walk.
Getting into the stadium was quick (no queuing here) – you needed photo ID and your ticket. We’d packed a picnic, so found a shady spot for lunch before finding our seats in the Suzanne Lenglen court. The women’s quarter final was up first, and the atmosphere was excellent. Although we were high up in the ‘cheap seats’ we still got a great view of the game. Next up was the men’s quarter-final featuring Novak Djokovic. By now the stadium was packed – with people cheering on both players. While some spectators had a favourite, most people just wanted a good game of tennis!
The next day, we headed back to the stadium in time for it opening. We had tickets for the women’s semi-finals on the Philipe Chatrier court, but wanted to spend some time watching the outside courts as well. We ended up seeing some of the legends’ matches; including John McEnroe and Henri Leconte who was very popular with the French crowd.
After another picnic lunch, we found our seats on the main court. We were really high up, but still got a fantastic view. Like the day before, the atmosphere was electric, with the crowd appreciating good tennis.
All too soon the matches were over. We headed back to the metro station and caught the train back to Gare du Nord, from where we got the train back to Soissons. The timings worked out perfectly, and we were back on site just before the barrier was locked for the night!
Combining a week at Berny Rivière with a trip to the tennis made for a perfect holiday. We got the ideal combination of a relaxing break, whilst enjoying top-quality sport in one of the best cities in Europe.
My top tips for a day out at the French Open:
- It was really hot, and there is little protection from the sun in the stands. Wear light, loose clothing, take a hat and plenty of sun cream.
- Although you get your bags searched on entry, you can take as much food and drink in as you like. We packed a picnic, which was much cheaper than buying food inside.
- There’s a tap with drinking water, so refill plastic bottles from that.
- The closest metro station to Roland Garros is Porte d’Auteuill. It will be really busy at the end of the day – buy your tickets for the return journey when you arrive to save time queuing.
- Get there early. There are loads of games being played on the outside courts and you can just wander in and out. Plus the top players use empty courts for practise – we stumbled upon Nadal hitting a few balls!