We like tennis. We always watch the four majors and cheer on our favorite player, Roger Federer. He’s about our age, so watching him play makes us feel both good about ourselves and woefully inadequate all at the same time. But anyway, when we were thinking about our time in Europe, we realized we could easily get to Paris for the French Open. After watching Wimbledon in Poland, the US Open in the Netherlands, and the Australian Open in Thailand, we were psyched! So here’s how to enjoy French Open tennis like a pro (or like two aging tennis fans).
Tips for buying your tickets to the French Open online
Create an account on the French Open website early
French Open tickets are now only sold (including resales) through the Roland Garros ticketing website. You want to set up an account well before tickets go on sale so you can jump right on it when they do.
Set a calendar reminder for when tickets will go on sale
Or whatever you want to do to make sure you know the exact date and, more importantly, time the ticketing website will open for business. If you’re not in France, make sure you note the time zone too. We happened to be in New Zealand at the time and so made sure we were awake at 11pm which is when the tickets went on sale.
Figure out what days you want to attend in advance
Once the ticketing website opens and it’s your turn, you’ll have a specific (brief) amount of time to purchase your tickets so you want to be prepared. What tickets you can buy for each day changes year-to-year (for example, in 2017, they made it so you had to buy each of the semi-final matches separately instead of a whole semi-final day ticket). Based on when we would be in Paris we wanted tickets on the second day of the quarter-finals, so we could buy a whole day’s worth of matches.
Be prepared for a long wait and technical difficulties
Make sure your device is charged and you have a good connection. You will most likely have to wait on a virtual line for an hour or longer. At least we did! It was incredibly frustrating and exhausting watching the queue countdown from approximately 14,000, but we did it. And when our turn finally came up, the actual match day and seat selection process was super easy. However, sadly, when we hit purchase, we got an error message. We tried again (a few times), and got the same error message. At this point it was after midnight and we were done. We decided to give it another try in the morning (when everyone else in France would be asleep). We woke up and gave it another shot and apparently the problem had been solved because we successfully bought our tickets to the French Open.
Tips for attending the French Open in Paris
Pay attention to what’s going on in the tournament
Court Philippe Chatrier (the center court) at Roland Garros doesn’t yet have a roof. That means rain can change everything. It poured the day before we went and the main matches were pushed to our day. Others’ bad luck was our gain… we got to see Rafael Nadal play even though he wasn’t originally on our schedule. We had to get to the tournament much earlier than we originally thought, so it was good we had been paying attention and knew what was going on.
Bring food and water
You can bring as much food and water into the tournament as you can carry. Okay maybe that’s going a little too far – there are baggage size restrictions – but you can and should bring your own food. Of course there’s food sold at these tournaments, but it’s expensive and you’re in Paris! You can find great baguettes and cheese and other delicious things to enjoy all day.
If you’re like us and are going to see Nadal play for the first time, you want to make sure you’re in your seat when he walks onto the court. So we arrived when the park opened at 10am (for an 11am match). Maybe that was a bit much, but our entry was a breeze and we could tell the lines were going to be long. Or so we convinced ourselves.
Check the weather before you leave. The day we went was thankfully cool. And we were way up high in the second to last row, so it was quite breezy. But the next day it was unbelievably hot! Layers and hats are key.
Get up close at the outer courts
When Nadal’s opponent retired early, we went to watch other matches on some of the smaller courts. Since it was the quarter finals, there were no big singles matches (like during some of the earlier match days in these tournaments), but we did get to see some great doubles matches. And you’re able to get so close, it’s nuts!
Have the best time!
It’s a whole day of tennis. It’s outside (and hopefully a nice day). It’s pretty with the red clay courts. And you may get the opportunity to see one of your favorite players. Even though Federer didn’t make it to the French Open this year, we got to see Nadal which was amazing.