Table of Contents for this Episode
[00:00:16] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 430, quatre cent trente.
[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour. I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.
[00:00:37] Today on the podcast: Attending Roland-Garros
[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Will Weider who tells us about his experience attending Roland-Garros, that’s the tennis tournament, in 2022.
[00:00:48] Annie Sargent: If you’re going to be in Paris during Roland-Garros, which is May 28th through June 11th, that’s 2023, you might want to grab some tickets as soon as they open. Premium tickets go on sale this week, and all tickets go on sale on March 15th, and they are going to sell out fast.
[00:01:10] Podcast supporters
[00:01:10] Annie Sargent: This podcast is not sponsored by Roland-Garros, but rather by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app, and you can browse all of that on my boutique JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique
[00:01:31] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview with Will, I’ll tell you about the general strike announced for March 7th and how to deal with strikes in France in general. It’s really not rocket science and those of us who live in France are constantly faced with strikes of different amplitude, obviously.
[00:01:53] Annie Sargent: So we know what to do and soon you will too.
[00:02:05] Will and Annie on attending Roland-Garros
[00:02:05] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Will and welcome to Join Us in France.
[00:02:08] Will Weider: Bonjour Annie, thank you.
[00:02:11] We have a wonderful conversation lined up, we want to talk about attending Roland-Garros, which you did in 2022 and I want you to share tips as to how it went and perhaps some things that surprised you, some things that you want to warn other people about and some things that you loved, of course.
[00:02:29] Annie Sargent: So tell us a little bit about you and who was traveling with you.
[00:02:32] First trip to France
[00:02:32] Will Weider: Yes, this was a trip for me and my wife, Pam. This was my first trip to France. And we are both tennis lovers, probably my wife a little bit more than me and so this was a great chance for her to see some tennis and for me to practice my French and travel in Paris.
[00:02:50] Annie Sargent: Fantastic. So have you attended other international tennis events?
[00:02:54] Will Weider: Yes, we’ve been to the US Open a few times, being on the West Coast. We’ve gone to other tennis tournaments around here, of course to Indian Wells. Now we’re trying to get to all of the Grand Slam tournaments. I’m looking forward to that.
[00:03:08] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s great. So perhaps you can at some point kind of, contrast Roland-Garros with your experiences at the US events. That’s great. So your trip was May 21st – 31st of 2022. I want to hear about all the things that you enjoyed the most.
[00:03:29] You gave me a list, why don’t you take it away and we’ll discuss as needed?
[00:03:34] Will Weider: Great. Of course, the highlight for us was the tennis tournament. We were there for three sessions, they have day sessions and night sessions. So we went to two day sessions and a night session. That was definitely our favorite part.
[00:03:47] Mother’s Day in France
[00:03:47] It turns out that Mother’s Day is a different day in France than is in the United States, and I’ve got to take my wife out to Mother’s Day brunch twice, once in the United States and once in France. And I did a much better job when we went out to France. We really picked a great restaurant that we really enjoyed.
[00:04:06] Annie Sargent: Great. Where was that? Tell us the name.
[00:04:08] Joia is the short name, I think the full name is JÒIA par Hélène Darroze. She’s the chef and it was just a wonderful experience. Kind of intimate setting, great food, on point service, we loved it.
[00:04:23] Annie Sargent: Oh, excellent. That’s wonderful. Okay. What else did you enjoy?
[00:04:27] Will Weider: I loved your walking tour, what we did one day where we just sort of split up. I put my headphones in and did the walking tour of Le Marais and that was fun for me. I really enjoyed that.
[00:04:38] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. That’s great. Why did pick Le Marais rather than the other ones?
[00:04:42] Will Weider: I honestly can’t say, might have been fairly random.
[00:04:46] Annie Sargent: That’s great.Of course we went to the Musée D’Orsay. We loved that. Really spent several hours there, it was just amazing to see these works of art that I’ve only seen in books and online. And then you helped us figure out, I told you I wanted to see a jazz club while I was in Paris, and you helped us figure out our options and we ended up going to Les Ducs and that was fantastic.
[00:05:08] La Truffière
[00:05:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah, we did an itinerary planning session as well, so that’s what you’re referring to, yeah. Very good. Then you had some other nice dinners, La Trufferie was one of your favorites, that’s cool, where is that?
[00:05:22] Will Weider: That’s in the Latin Quarter, just around the corner from the Pantheon. Andvery small, intimate, fine dining, multi-course meals, a bit of a splurge, and got plenty of truffles. Although there was an option to do all truffle meals, that was a bit much for me. But still, it was an amazing experience.
[00:05:41] Chef PJ’s food tour in Mont Martre
[00:05:41] Annie Sargent: That’s great. And you did a food tour. I want to hear about the food tour.
[00:05:44] Will Weider: The food tour was just crazy. We’ve done food tours before, we love food. And this was Chef PJ’s food tour in Montmartre. Typically when you do a food tour you get lots of bites along the way and by the time it’s done you’re full. And this was much different. Chef PJ is this huge personality and takes you through Mont Martre and basically buys the food that he’s going to make and serve to you at his restaurant.
[00:06:15] Will Weider: Tells a lot of crazy stories. We did get a couple of nibbles, but if you do this food tour, you really shouldn’t go hungry because it’s about two or three hours before you sit down and have your meal. And the whole tour, even though it was advertised as being a three hour tour, it’s probably more like a five hour tour.
[00:06:30] Will Weider: Because after we went to his restaurant and ate all the food that we had purchased, including some beef bourguignon on that he had cooking, then he takes you out to three or four places for dessert, it was a long experience.
[00:06:42] Almost a whole day experience, like a French meal.
[00:06:46] Will Weider: It really was. But if you’re up for it and you know what you’re getting into, it’s really a great day, I think.
[00:06:51] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. And you took some, you went running along the Seine?
[00:06:55] Will Weider: Yeah. you know I tried to run from time to time, I just thought that is a great way to start the morning and you get to see all kinds of interesting folks in the boats and I really enjoyed doing that in the morning to get started.
[00:07:07] So this was towards the Roland-Garros area, were you staying in the Roland-Garros area?
[00:07:12] Will Weider: No, we were staying, I think it’s the 8th Arrondissement.
[00:07:16] Annie Sargent: Okay Not too far from Champs-Élysées. We stayed at a hotel, very small family owned boutique hotel called the Hôtel San Régis. Not to be confused with the chain by a similar name, this is a one-off hotel.
[00:07:30] Will Weider: It was charming and the service was fantastic. We had a nice room with a little extra space and a terrace. Wasn’t great for sitting on, but you could go out there and take photographs of the Eiffel Tower.
[00:07:42] And so that was good for Instagram.
[00:07:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
[00:07:46] Running along the river Seine
[00:07:46] Annie Sargent: So running along the river, I just want a few more details about this. Did you research this before you just put on your shoes and went running? That’s what I’m assuming you did, because you don’t really need to research that much.
[00:07:58] Will Weider: Yeah. No. There’s plenty of room to run there, as most riverfronts have. Andgot to run different sections to get a little different view, a little different flavor. But no, I just got my shoes on and went towards the river.
[00:08:11] Annie Sargent: Yeah and there was no, nothing startling about it.
[00:08:13] Will Weider: No, not at all. It was a good, comfortable run.
[00:08:17] Annie Sargent: Excellent. Alright.
[00:08:18] Annie Sargent: You of course, also enjoyed your croissant at the local bakeries. Everybody likes those. Did you branch out into other pastries or was it just strictly croissant kind of guy?
[00:08:29] Will Weider: No, we tried a lot. I love pain au chocolat, or as we Americans call it chocolate croissants. Yes, we tried a lot of different bakeries and they were all spectacular compared to what we’re used to here in Washington State.
[00:08:45] On and off bus tour
[00:08:45] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm. And then you went on an on and off bus tour andthat was fine, right?
[00:08:50] Will Weider: Yeah, actually it was better than what I expected. It was the kind where you just pop in some headphones, but still, it was a great way to see a lot of parts of Paris quickly that I would’ve missed. I would’ve never seen Notre Dame if I had not jumped on this bus tour. And we found ourself at the Eiffel Tower, you know, we took a lot of photos. We had tickets to go up, but we didn’t want to wait in line. So the bus was a way to kind of leave that area, go see some other areas, and then end up near our hotel.
[00:09:18] Oh, okay. And I’m scrolling down and I see that you have more details about your hotel, which are going to be interesting to people. So in your room you had a terrace with, well, probably not a big terrace, right? Like more like a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower?
[00:09:33] Yeah, that’s right. You know,there was a table out there and a chair so you could sit there and have coffee, but it was not a large space. And it was kind of cumbersome to get in and out of, but it was beautiful.
[00:09:43] Getting bigger rooms in Paris
[00:09:43] Mm-hmm. And you got a suite, so you had two bedrooms. See, people are always asking, is it possible to get bigger rooms in Paris? And of course it is. They do cost quite a bit more than the cheaper hotels, obviously. But it is possible to find hotels that will have a nice view and two bedrooms and whatever.
[00:10:00] Will Weider: Yeah.
[00:10:01] And this place has a fair number of suites and my wife wakes up about two hours before I do. And so she went out into the living space and ordered coffee. The coffee was fantastic and it was available 24 hours, so sometimes she was waking up at three or 4:00 AM and having coffee, and then I would come out and we’d get another pot and those are a great way to start the day.
[00:10:20] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm. But one thing you didn’t love was the neighborhood, perhaps too quiet?
[00:10:24] Will Weider: Yeah, it was interesting, because you would either go out just a few blocks and you’re on Champs-Élysées which is kind of chaotic, kind of touristy. It was convenient, there’s all kinds of things accessible that, you know, pharmacies and fast food if you wanted it. Or if you go in the other direction, it was very residential and things weren’t open late, there weren’t a lot of options in terms of restaurants, so that was my least favorite part of an otherwise great hotel.
[00:10:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah.It is a fact that around the Champs-Élysées, there are a lot of very expensive residences where it’s, you know, older, richer people and they don’t party that much.
[00:11:04] Will Weider: That’s right.
[00:11:05] JÒIA par Hélène Darroze
[00:11:05] Annie Sargent: Alright. You’ve mentioned the restaurantsalready. I had never heard of this Hélène Darroze and Joia. Oh, it’s a brunch spot. That’s probably why I haven’t, because I rarely go out to brunch . So you say it’s an interesting take on brunch, like how?
[00:11:21] Well, there is lots and lots of small courses and very inventive food, probably food I probably couldn’t describe, but it was great because if there was something that you didn’t like, you didn’t have to eat it because there was a bunch of other things that they brought out in sort of waves.
[00:11:39] Annie Sargent: So, is it astarred restaurant?
[00:11:41] I believe it is a Michelin starred restaurant.
[00:11:42] Will Weider: Yes. That’s how it works, usually, those starred restaurants they will just bring a lot of interesting looking, smelling, tasting, texture, whatever nibbles, and you get a lot of little things that you get to experience, I guess.
[00:11:57] Will Weider: Yep. And we loved it, you know, it was very, they didn’t have traditional seating, it was kind of like couches and interesting tables. So you just felt like you were in someone’s home. That was really neat.
[00:12:07] Annie Sargent: mm-hmm. Alright, then you tell me about your favorite foods on this trip. And it’s funny because the one you picked is nothing like a starred restaurant. It’s a, is very different. Tell us about that.
[00:12:20] Will Weider: Well, I love my sweets and I was doing your walking tour and you were telling us about Aux Merveilleux de Fred. I probably butchered that.
[00:12:29] Annie Sargent: It’s fine.
[00:12:30] But, you know, these are, oh, how would you describe what they sell?
[00:12:34] Annie Sargent: It’s a meringue, it’s a flavored meringue and they surround it with cocoa powder or coconut or something. And it’s a, you know, making basic meringue is easy, but they make really special meringue, but it is basically meringue and it’s very delicious.
[00:12:55] Annie Sargent: And there’s a bunch of them by now in Paris.
[00:12:57] Aux Merveilleux de Fred there’s, I mean, every neighborhood in Paris it looks like has one.
[00:13:03] Will Weider: Yes, well they did them in a very special way. I’ve had meringue for dessert before and you know, it’s kind of bland, but this was just fantastic and surprised us both. So, I think we got a chocolate one and one that was a more fruity, and we loved them.
[00:13:19] Annie Sargent: Uhhuh, then you liked the bouef bourgnion, so Chef PJ served you one and then another place served you one.
[00:13:26] Well actually chef PJ’s restaurant iscalled Petit Moulin des Mauvais Garçon.
[00:13:34] Annie Sargent: Yes. Petit Moulin des Mauvais Garçon. Quite the name. Quite the name.
[00:13:39] Will Weider: Right, right. Yeah. It is quite the name. It’s quite the place too. It’s very tiny. We were all very cozy in there. There’s a lot of funny drawings outside of the restaurant. It was a neat place, I planned to go back some day.
[00:13:51] Annie Sargent: Cool. And you also liked the food at Roland-Garros. Now I’m stunned by that. You have to explain why.
[00:13:57] Well, I would say two things. And so this is sort of getting into the visit of the tennis tournament. You know, my number one tip for folks with regard to the tennis tournament is, if you can afford it, the premium seating is the way to go. And it includes access to a lounge that has surprisingly great food and cocktails and all that is included as much as you can eat and drink as part of your ticket price.
[00:14:25] Will Weider: And we were just blown away by the quality of the food. There was a meal served, but even before and after the meal, there was always something to snack on and including a dessert bar and everything we ate there was just delicious.
[00:14:36] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s great to know. Hmm. So you didn’t, I mean, that’s because you were in the premium kind of area. Did they also sell like everyday food vendor type of things, hot dogs or whatever?
[00:14:49] 430 Will Weider: Yeah. In the gardens there are lots and lots of shops selling both food and, you know, merchandise of course. And the food there was good too, we only did the premium tickets one day, the other day we had general admission seating. So we at those places. Their sit-down restaurants or places just to pick up a sandwich to go.
[00:15:10] And I would say compared to my experiences at the US Open, per se, the food was a little bit better.
[00:15:16] How long in advance he got his tickets?
[00:15:16] Annie Sargent: So walk me through the experience. When you walk into, well, first of all, how long before the tournament did you get your tickets?
[00:15:24] Will Weider: Well, it’s very important if you want to go to this tournament, keep your eye on the dates in which the tickets become available. You buy them online at the Roland-Garros website. You know, if you’re thinking about going in 2023, now’s the time to be thinking about buying your tickets.
[00:15:38] Will Weider: The premium tickets are on sale from February 23rd to 27th this year, and that’s basically the same as last year. And then the kind of open seating, the public sales begin March 15th. Tickets go fast and you’ll want to jump on those in the first couple of days when they go on sale.
[00:15:58] Annie Sargent: Right. So take note of the fact that tickets do not go on sale a year early. And this is a problem that a lot of Americans seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around this, like, it should be on sale at least a year early. Well, it’s not, and the reason why it’s not is because if they put the tickets for sale too early, they’re going to have to deal with refunds and people changing their minds and so forth, and they just don’t want to mess with it.
[00:16:26] Annie Sargent: So when they’re ready to sell, they’ll sell out just like that, you know, just very, very quickly. So you have to kind of put reminders in your calendar to go check the website and that’s also a way to increase, you know, like interest, but they have to make sure that their website is ready to be hit by a lot of people all at once.
[00:16:47] Will Weider: The website worked great. The app worked great. They really seemed to have everything down in terms of how they do this.
[00:16:54] Annie Sargent: Okay, so you get your tickets right on time. Not too early, not too late. And then when you arrive, what is it like?
[00:17:02] Getting around to and from the Roland-Garros stadium
[00:17:02] Annie Sargent: For the transportation, how did you get around between your hotel and the Roland-Garros Stadium?
[00:17:09] Will Weider: The first day we took an Uber just because we were a little unsure of things and we took the metro back. And from there on, we took the metro there and back. And so you arrive and the first day is the day we had premium tickets. As you get close to the same, obviously the crowds in increased and there was, I’m not kidding. Probably a mile long line to get into the general admission gate.
[00:17:36] So get there early or at least be prepared to wait in a long line. Now that was the day we had premium seats, and included in the premium seats is your own gate to go into and so we walked and we didn’t know where that gate was.
[00:17:50] Will Weider: And, you know, there are a lot of official looking people there that are keeping the lines in check and answering questions. And they pointed us to the gate and we just walked right in. There was no line at all. And there were lots of people there smiling and pointing us in the right direction.
[00:18:04] Will Weider: And, so that was probably, you know, that alone might have been worth the premium seating. Then the next day we were using general tickets. So we just got there early.
[00:18:13] Annie Sargent: And was the line equally long the next day?
[00:18:16] It wasn’t, but I think that’s because we knew to get there early. By the time we got inthere wasn’t much of wait.
[00:18:22] Annie Sargent: So early, you mean like if the game is at three, you have to show up at what time or, or do you go in for the whole day?
[00:18:28] Will Weider: Yeah, you go in for the whole day. And I forget, you know, when the sessions begin and start as something like noon to five. And so yeah, we just arrived a half hour before the gates opened and chatted with each other.
[00:18:41] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay. Yeah.
[00:18:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that makes sense.
[00:18:43] Annie Sargent: I’ve never been to a big tennis event, so I have no idea how these things go, you know? Just, I mean, I’ve always wanted to, one of these years perhaps, but I haven’t so far. Yeah. Alright. What else do we need to know about Roland-Garros that you learned, that you want to tell other visitors?
[00:19:01] 430 Will Weider: Yeah. I think other than the premium tickets and honestly, the second day when we had general admission, we kept saying to ourselves, oh, we should have splurged on the premium tickets. You know, we came to thousands of miles and it was a once in a lifetime trip, and so probably would’ve been the right thing to do.
[00:19:16] But still it’s you know,
[00:19:17] Will Weider: in a big tennis tournament, there’s typically two or three large stadiums. Certainly that’s the case for Roland-Garros. In those large stadiums they try to put the premier matches, the famous tennis players, and so you can get reserve seating up close in these large tennis stadiums andget really close to these famous players.
[00:19:37] Or you know, if you’re on a budget, you can buy general admission tickets for as low as 10 euros. You can go to the side courts and watch. And I love the side courts too, because you just sit on a bleacher, if you’re in the front row, that bleacher, you’re practically shaking hands with these professional tennis players.
[00:19:55] Will Weider: And there are still a lot of really great tennis players on those side courts because there’s so many matches. I really think going the first week is the time to go because there’s lots and lots of matches happening and you can kind of jump between them and see a lot of players.
[00:20:11] Annie Sargent: So you see men, women, doubles, everything? Is that happening at once?
[00:20:18] Will Weider: Yep. Everything is happening at once.
[00:20:19] How many courts?
[00:20:19] Annie Sargent: So how many courts do they have?
[00:20:22] Will Weider: I think there are 10 of the side courts and then the three large stadiums, if I’m not mistaken, there’s Philippe-Chatrier, Suzanne-Lenglen, and I think the other one is Simonne-Mathieu.
[00:20:35] Red clay
[00:20:35] Wow. And they’re all the same. Oh, terre battue, I don’t know how to say this in English. Same dirt, the red dirt?
[00:20:43] Will Weider: Yes. You know, and that’s one of the neat things about the French Open is the red clay.
[00:20:48] Will Weider: And it’s just like visually striking when you walk into the court. It’s so, you know, bright orange, and I love the French Open because that clay slows the ball down. And so the rallies last longer and people are sliding along, you know, make shots and occasionally they’ll fall down and get covered in dirt and it’s just a fun tournament.
[00:21:07] And this dirt stains, doesn’t it? I mean, this is the sort of packed material that people put in their driveways in France, so it’s not always that orange color, but very commonly in the Southwest, we have a similar kind of material, but it’s a yellow color and like dog paws, you’ll have yellow marks all over your house, you know? I had to put gravel over mine because it’s just, it stains everything, but it’s a good material, you know, but it’sit’s just not very practical, let’s put it that way.
[00:21:44] Will Weider: Yeah, if you’re a professional tennis player, you get a new uniform and a new pair of shoes every match, so you can afford to get dirty, but yeah.
[00:21:52] Annie Sargent: I bet. And people also ask can you play? If you’re itching to, you know, I don’t know hit some balls, are there places where they tell you, oh, you can go play over here, or do they give advice or is it just all watching?
[00:22:06] Will Weider: It’s pretty much all watching now, like, these large tennis areas, you know, US Open and Indian Wells, they typically have these booths that are sponsored by vendors, you know, folks like American Express and Emirates. And a few of them will have a place where you can hit a ball, but it’s not like you’re playing tennis.
[00:22:25] Nope, you’re just there to watch and I’m sure there’s a club membership to Roland-Garros for the rest of the year, but it’s probably not something I could afford.
[00:22:33] And so you can go from one court to another to see different games going on during the day?
[00:22:40] Will Weider: Yeah, so if you have the general admission pass you can go to any of the side courts and a lot of people just come and go, you know, during or in between games. They’ll allow the crowd to come and go. It’s very bad for them to go try to walk in, in the middle of the game. There’s usually people there to stop you.
[00:22:58] And then if you have a ticket where you have a reserved seat in one of the larger stadiums, you can also go out and visit the side courts. And then thisSimonne-Mathieu stadium is interesting because down low are the reserved seats, but up high are all open unreserved seats. So even if you have a general admission or a ticket to another stadium, you can still go in there and watch pretty good matches as well.
[00:23:23] Did it feel really crowded?
[00:23:25] Will Weider: In spots, you know, the area that’s kind of a straight line between or that connects all of the side courts that gets very, very crowded, we were there on a busy day and there was a lot of trying to get to the various side courts and they were filling up. But in the larger stadiums where they have the reserved seating, not only do you have your own seat reserved, but it’s surprising how many open seats are and some of the earlier games especially.
[00:23:54] Will Weider: And so you could spread out a little bit and that was comfortable.
[00:23:57] Will Weider: That is the nice thing too about having these premier tickets that give you access to the lounge. Because if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you’re feeling like the sun has been beating down on you, you can walk away and find a comfortable seat inside for a little while.
[00:24:10] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So usually at Roland-Garros the problem is too much sun, not too much rain.
[00:24:16] Will Weider: Yes, I can believe that.
[00:24:17] Yeah, it’s a time of year where it’s usually very sunny, but it could be windy. But I assume once you are inside of the stadiums, you don’t really feel the wind, do you?
[00:24:27] Will Weider: No, I didn’t feel the winds at any point. It was just absolute perfect weather every day we were there.
[00:24:33] Annie Sargent: That’s cool.
[00:24:34] How long is the tournament?
[00:24:34] Annie Sargent: How many days do you, I mean, I don’t even know how many days the tournament goes on for. Is it a five days, seven days, eight days?
[00:24:43] Will Weider: Two weeks.
[00:24:44] Will Weider: Yeah, two weeks. And there are multiple rounds. And so the first week everybody’s playing all at once and it’s very, very busy. And then obviously, every day or every round half the folks are eliminated. And so it gets smaller and smaller until you’re to the finals where there’s just one singles match and one doubles match on the final Saturday and on the final Sunday.
[00:25:05] Annie Sargent: So if you really want, I mean, if you want to see the finals, then you buy a ticket for the last day and whoever’s at the final you will get to see. But if you would rather do, does the price change like at the beginning of the tournament? Do they sell cheaper days or no?
[00:25:24] When to get the best deals at Roland-Garros
[00:25:24] Will Weider: Yes. The key is, you know, the best value, the best bargains beginning of the tournament. And for me, that’s the best time you can see the most matches, and go during the weekdays. It’s more expensive on the weekends. So I think the tournament starts on a Saturday or Sunday, and that’s kind of, but that following Monday and Tuesday are actually less expensive.
[00:25:44] Annie Sargent: Right, because locals want to go on the weekends and the rest of the time they have to take a vacation, days off or whatever. And so there’s fewer of them, I’m sure.
[00:25:51] Will Weider: Right. Right.
[00:25:52] Are the days longer at the beginning of the tournament? You know, there’s games between noon and five, but later on there’s only the one game between two and five or whatever?
[00:26:02] Will Weider: Obviously on the last day there’s just two matches in one court, you know, and so of course it’s the for the championship and it’s exciting and the whole world is watching. But we got to see the winners in the earlier matches and we were very close. So, that was fun.
[00:26:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I mean, I can’t play tennis to save my life, or any other sport as a matter of fact, but growing up I never missed Roland-Garros. It was, you would just go home and watch the games on TV. It was huge. Much more in my family anyway, much more than soccer. So it was, first it was Roland-Garros then it was rugby because, you know, Toulouse.
[00:26:41] I never watched any soccer because my dad wasn’t a soccer fan and I never watched basketball until much later. You know, it’s just, it’s really interesting how, but all the kids we were all into this Roland-Garros thing and we knew all the names of the players and I’m sure they still do today.
[00:26:57] Will Weider: Yeah, think that must still be the case because for the matches where there are French players like Humbert or Garcia, the crowd just went crazy. And those are the, if you can get to one of the matches where one of the French players are playing, definitely do that. It is so high energy and so much fun.
[00:27:14] How do you know who is playing?
[00:27:14] Annie Sargent: So how do you know who’s playing? Are there like boards or TVs that tell you or…?
[00:27:18] There is a handwritten board, but the best way is the app. The app, the Roland-Garros app, which also has your ticket in it, has all of the matches, the times they start, the stadiums they’re in. And you could also keep up to date on scores of the matches that are happening, you know, at the same time. So that app was great.
[00:27:38] Annie Sargent: And you enjoyed the night matches as well.
[00:27:41] Will Weider: Yeah. They only play the night matches in Philippe-Chartier. It’s a 15,000 person tennis stadium, one of the largest. They always have a premier match. I think we saw Corta from the United States and Alcaraz from Spain who’s like, you know, the top five and they’re just fantastic energy.
[00:28:02] Will Weider: Every seat is filled. It was just a lot of fun. So it’s probably not the best value because there’s only, I think, one match, maybe there’s two. And the tickets are a little pricier and we had to sit pretty far up as well. But you want to do that at least once. It’s a whole different experience from the day.
[00:28:20] Annie Sargent: Hmm. Very cool. And you mentioned also seating on the grounds in front of large televisions. Tell us about that.
[00:28:26] Will Weider: Yeah. Yeah. There’s one space on, actually a couple spaces, on the lawns towards the entrance, there’s these lounge chairs with a orange cloth facing a giant TV and I just love the energy over there, the vibe and I think, you know, when I got tired of sitting in my seat in the stadium, I went there and kind of relaxed. The wind was, or there was a little bit of a breeze, it was just fun to be amongst all of these folks watching the match.
[00:28:55] Will Weider: But those seats do fill up. So, if you are looking for that experience, get there earlier, just be patient and wait around.
[00:29:02] Security at Roland-Garros
[00:29:02] How was security around the stadium?
[00:29:05] Will Weider: You know, it was largely not visible to me. There’s a lot of security when you come in, obviously. They scan everyone. But everybody was orderly and friendly. There were no incidents of any kind whatsoever. There were a lot of people around offering assistance. In fact, one of the things they offer is a charger, one of these portable batteries for your mobile phone, you know, and so you could just borrow it and bring it back.
[00:29:30] Annie Sargent: How nice.
[00:29:31] Will Weider: So lots of little amenities like that to make it a real great experience. I didn’t see a lot of security, but it felt secure.
[00:29:37] Annie Sargent: Yeah. That’s good. You go through security just to enter the area, right, enter the stadium? And then since, do they even have paper tickets?
[00:29:47] Will Weider: No, no. I think everything is digital. You cannot walk up to the stadium and buy tickets in any way, shape, or form.
[00:29:54] Will Weider: So you have to do all that in advance.
[00:29:55] Annie Sargent: It’s all online. Yeah. Well, it’s better. It eliminates all the problem with scammers, with all sorts of problems. So that’s really good.
[00:30:03] Getting to the stadium
[00:30:03] Annie Sargent: And how about getting to the stadium from Paris? So you were staying in Paris, you had to get to the stadium. How was that?
[00:30:11] Will Weider: Yeah. It was fine. I don’t have much of a recollection of what trains we took.
[00:30:16] Annie Sargent: Oh, it doesn’t matter. An app will tell you exactly what to do.
[00:30:18] Will Weider: Exactly, and we were in the city center, so it was easy to get anywhere.
[00:30:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah. But the metro didn’t feel overwhelming or too crowded? Sometimes for crowd control measures they close some metro stations and they make you walk the rest of the way. Did you experience that or no?
[00:30:35] Will Weider: I did not, and it didn’t feel overcrowded. I think it was about maybe a half mile walk from the train station. And when we did walk by or take that walk, we saw some other bars and restaurants. And so we are a little hesitant to find some place to stop inside the area because we thought it might be overly busy, but it didn’t really strike me as such.
[00:31:00] Will Weider: So, you know, if you’re interested in finding a place nearby, I think that’s an option.
[00:31:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s a very busy area, the Roland-Garros area is very busy, but plenty of hotels and restaurants and things like that, so I’m sure you could find stuff.
[00:31:14] When did they book the hotel?
[00:31:14] Annie Sargent: But again, your hotel, I assume you booked your hotel as soon as you had your tickets for the event, or did you book your hotel before?
[00:31:22] Will Weider: Yeah, we did before. I remember my wife saying she had heard that sometimes the players stay there. So I think that was part of our decision in picking that hotel as well.
[00:31:30] Annie Sargent: So one day I was at lunch at uh,Le Saint Régis, by Notre Dame and I was having lunch, I was leading a group and the lady was like awestruck because there was the president of the tennis association from this country and that country. She knew all about the tennis and I was like, oh, nice.
[00:31:51] Annie Sargent: You know, so they do, I mean, you do get a chance to see players or officials or people like that. If you are into tennis, you will see a lot of famous people, I guess, tennis famous people, around Paris.
[00:32:03] Will Weider: Yeah. I think they’re more approachable than most professional athletes and you do see them out and about in public.
[00:32:10] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Very nice.
[00:32:12] Other tips for visitors who want to visit Roland-Garros
[00:32:12] Annie Sargent: Other tips you have for visitors?
[00:32:15] Annie Sargent: I think that’s probably it. I mean, you listed learned some French, but that’s always good.
[00:32:21] Will Weider: That was my hobby during COVID, taking French lessons from Alliance Francaise and doing my Duolingo. And so I really enjoyed getting a chance to practice. And I found that all of the vendors were very patient with my French and encouraging me of trying to use French, and I did enjoy that.
[00:32:41] Annie Sargent: Great. That’s great. And you bought data service through T-Mobile and that was good for you?
[00:32:47] Will Weider: Yeah, that worked great. I think that’s a little simpler than trying to swap out sims.
[00:32:52] Annie Sargent: Yeah. For most people it is.
[00:32:54] Annie Sargent: All right, so last thing I’m going to ask you is how did the podcast and other trip reports help you prepare for your trip? Did it actually help listening to all these episodes?
[00:33:03] Will Weider: Absolutely invaluable, you know, and Annie I have to thank you, I don’t think you realize how much impact you have on people like me that are francophiles and are looking to have sort of these once in a lifetime trips go smoothly and really, you make people’s dreams come true through all of these podcasts.
[00:33:23] Annie Sargent: Wow. Yes. That’s wonderful. Thank you.
[00:33:25] Will Weider: We spent so many hours driving, listening to your podcast. We feel like you belong with us every time we go on a road trip
[00:33:32] Will Weider: Now.
[00:33:32] Zipper pockets pants
[00:33:32] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Oh, you also mentioned that you bought pants with zipper pockets. That’s very important. Men, you can actually find pants with zipper pockets. Even women sometimes, I have pants on right now that have zipper pockets and they are, zipped pockets are so important in Paris, because things won’t fall out. You’re not as easy a target. So zip it up folks. That’s very important.
[00:33:56] Will Weider: That’s right. I did not want to lose my phone. That would’ve been a disaster. So I bought pants just to go to Paris.
[00:34:03] And you know, I don’t think that Roland-Garros is a particular target of pick pockets, but there has to be some that go there just because it’s Roland-Garros time and they know there’s a lot of visitors and so they just, they’re looking for people who are inattentive or too distracted or whatever.
[00:34:21] Annie Sargent: And it’s so easy to do. You know, you’re traveling, you’re in a foreign country, you are at an event, there’s lots of things happening. Lots of people cars zooming by, well not zooming by, but you know, lots of things happening and it’s so easy to be distracted and to just forget your phone on the table or on a chair or have it fall out of your pocket or whatever.
[00:34:41] Annie Sargent: So you need to really be careful because losing your phone it’s a major event. Like it would be bad. I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about all the things I would have to do if I lost my phone. Très mal, c’est pas bien du tout ! Anyway. Well, okay. Any last thoughts or…
[00:35:06] Will Weider: That’s it. Thank you for this time. I’ve enjoyed getting to chat with you again.
[00:35:10] Annie Sargent: Oh me too. And you know, Will, I think people will feel more prepared to go to Roland-Garros because there are a lot of people who might want to go, who haven’t necessarily attended such events before. You know, they just, and so this is going to reassure them, so thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
[00:35:29] Annie Sargent: Mercy. Au revoir.
[00:35:39] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that and you can see them at Patreon.com/joinus. Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for years, you are wonderful.
[00:36:02] New patrons
[00:36:02] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons Kevin Fritz, Brian Tolleson, Karen Gasper and Ellen. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.
[00:36:16] Annie Sargent: My thanks also to Judith Marietta for sending in a one-time donation by using the green button on any page on JoinUsinFrance.Com that says “Tip your guide”.
[00:36:28] Annie Sargent: If you are preparing a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening to the podcast because that’s a great way to do it.
[00:36:38] France Itinerary Consult Service
[00:36:38] Annie Sargent: You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. Here’s how it works. You purchase the service on JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique.
[00:36:46] Annie Sargent: Then you fill out a document to tell me what you have in mind. We make a phone appointment and chat for about an hour and then I send you a document with the plan we discussed. So collect all your questions for the phone call, folks. Remember, my time is booked up several weeks in advance. You can see the date for my next availability on the boutique page where you can buy this service.
[00:37:12] Self-guided tours of Paris
[00:37:12] Annie Sargent: And if you cannot talk to me because I’m all booked up, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tours on the VoiceMap app.
[00:37:21] Annie Sargent: I’ve produced six tours. They are designed to show you the best of different iconic neighborhoods of Paris. They are the Eiffel Tower, Ile de la Cité, le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter.
[00:37:37] Annie Sargent: I will release the Eiffel Tower tour in French before the end of the month, but keep in mind that I speak faster in French than I do in English. So this is for people who are either French natives or very, very fluent in French. You can get these tours directly from the VoiceMap app, but podcast listeners get a sweet discount if they buy directly from me at JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique. And if you want the tours to work immediately, then get them from the app, because when I send the codes it’s a manual process, so it might take a day or two, sometimes.
[00:38:16] Join Us in France Facebook group
[00:38:16] For the travel question of the week, facebook added a new messaging feature to groups and I turned it off for Join Us in France because getting a notification every minute if someone gets a question that pops into their head. Yeah, those notifications were hell on Earth, so no thank you.
[00:38:35] The group is very well moderated, very well attended, if you have a question you can ask it and you will probably get an answer within a few hours without me or anyone else needing to get an instant notification. Facebook is desperate for clicks, there’s nothing new there. If you’re listening to this episode and you do use Facebook you should look up the group and ask to join, it’s called Join Us in France Closed Group. Anyone can see the group, but you have to answer a few questions to join, that’s how we keep out all the marketers and make sure that the group is about travel to France and nothing else, which is, you know, how we like it.
[00:39:13] This week in French News, Strike Day
[00:39:13] Annie Sargent: Alright. This week in French News, let’s talk about the general strike announcement. It’s announced for Tuesday March 7th, 2023.
[00:39:22] Annie Sargent: The question is what to do if there’s a strike announced during your visit to France. Here’s the short answer. On strike day, plan something that can be done without public transportation. Stay close to your accommodations and walk everywhere you need to go. Don’t book anything on the other side of the city and don’t plan on spending the day at the Louvre or at any other museum because museums go on strike quite frequently.
[00:39:53] Annie Sargent: Do something that won’t go on strike and is close to where you’re staying. Strike day is perfect for taking a VoiceMap tour, for example, they work all the time. You might think parks and gardens would be good, but in Paris, city workers go on strike a lot, and when they do that, they lock up the gardens.
[00:40:14] Annie Sargent: Hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and stores in general do not go on the strike. Taxis might, but Uber drivers probably won’t. You know what I mean? So it’s the areas of transportation in general, because they used to be a national service. These people used to work for the government, and slowly, these companies have been bought out, but there’s still the mentality of everything is due to me and I need to go on strike at the drop of a hat. So, that’s why Uber won’t strike, but taxis might, because they used to be owned by the city of Paris long, long ago.
[00:40:53] Annie Sargent: A few days ago on French news, they talked about this March 7th general strike constantly. Like every newsflash was about that. Now it’s died down quite a bit. So who knows? It might be a dud. You never know with a strike. The whole point of a strike is to strike the government into giving in to what the strikers want, right?
[00:41:14] Annie Sargent: And sometimes it works. You know, if a strike movement gets enough press, then yes, it works sometimes. Now they’ve stopped talking about it so much. It might be a dud, it might not be a dud. There’s no way to know, because in France, strikers don’t have to tell you if they are striking up until 24 hours before the strike takes place. So if you work for the RATP, which is the company that runs the metro in Paris and the buses, they announce a strike for March 7th. Okay? We know that long in advance.
[00:41:48] Annie Sargent: But if you’re an individual who works for the RATP or the bus system or the SNCF, the train system or whatever, you don’t have to say, I’m striking until 24 hours before. So there is no way to know how many people will join the strike and how affected these services will be. That’s why we don’t know. The whole idea is they want to make a lot of hay out of this and hope that the government gives in.
[00:42:16] So just remember that in general you need to stay away from trains, metros, buses, museums on strike days, and you’ll be probably fine. Airlines sometimes join strikes, but again, just stay put on strike day. If you have reservations to go somewhere on March 7th, try to change it to March 6th or 8th because then you know, it shouldn’t be a problem.
[00:42:44] As for the reason for this strike, the issue is retirement age. In France, most people draw a pension from social security. Very few French people have money in a 401k or any sort of private investment. Some do, but it’s not as widespread as it is in America. But even if they did have 401ks, there are rules as to when you can start getting your money out and when you can start getting retirement from social security even in America. So the rules in France are complicated because everything is complicated in France, we love to complicate everything.
[00:43:20] Annie Sargent: But on average, people get to retire at age 62 or soon after. The new law says that we need to raise the age of retirement to 64. And it also says that we need to put an end to all the special retirement rules for trains and metro workers.
[00:43:40] Annie Sargent: So of course they’re not happy about that, I mean, who would?
[00:43:43] Annie Sargent: The extreme left opposition filed so many amendments to the law that it gummed up the works in Parliament. This was done on purpose, of course. In France, they can only take 50 days to examine a major reform such as this one in Parliament. Once the 50 days are over, game over. You pass it, you don’t pass it, but we’re done talking about this.
[00:44:07] Annie Sargent: And then when you have 12,000 amendments or that they needed to consider, I’m not sure what the exact number was at the end, but it was huge, it was that range of number of amendments. They never got to talk to the meat of the matter. They were just discussing all these amendments and when there is no majority in favor of a law, which is the case here, it automatically goes to the Senate after those 50 days.
[00:44:32] Annie Sargent: French senators are much more conservative and tend to agree with Macron more often. So the Senate is likely to pass something that will maintain the new age of 64 and will kill special rules for SNCF and RATP workers.
[00:44:51] Annie Sargent: Then the law goes to commission, and that commission has three members of the president’s party, three people. This is a six member commission, so three members of the President’s party, one extreme right, one extreme left and one miscellaneous right party. So the law is going to pass.
[00:45:10] Annie Sargent: But groups like the CGT, which are heavy strikers in France, they do love a good show of force. They need to show that they are still relevant. There will be strikes, but they probably won’t have the impact that they hope. The law will pass and eventually they’ll all go home and cook up another reason to strike. Because this is what they do, okay? I’m sorry to be, you know, maybe I sound cynical, but that’s what they do.
[00:45:37] So remember, on strike day stay put, find a VoiceMap tour that you can walk near where you are and you’ll have a great time despite the strikes.
[00:45:49] Personal Update this week
[00:45:49] Annie Sargent: For my personal update this week, I went to the lovely town of Bagesand to the Abbaye de Fontfroide. It’s near Narbonne, and I did this last weekend. It was a wonderful day out in the Corbières area, a beautiful wine route as well, but it was a Saturday in February and most of the places were closed when I stopped by. I’ll probably go back to the area again because there is so much to see there.
[00:46:20] Annie Sargent: Next weekend, I want to go to see a most beautiful village near Mirepoix, unless we get some much needed rain. In that case I’ll probably stay put, we shall see. But anyway, I’m enjoying some outings in the Occitanie region to look around these beautiful places that we have in the Southwest.
[00:46:38] Show notes
[00:46:38] Annie Sargent: Show notes and full transcript for this episode are on JoinUsinFrance.com/430
[00:46:46] And you can help your friends plan their visit to France, go to JoinUsinFrance.com/trailer and share the trailer for this podcast with them. It’s short and sweet and it may just be what they need to hear.
[00:47:01] A big thank you to podcast editor Cristi Cotovan who produces the transcripts so you can find in which episode we talked about the place that you’re interested in.
[00:47:12] Next week on the podcast an episode about the five days that my husband David and I spent in Alsace just after Christmas. This one is going to be super helpful to people who are considering going to Strasbourg especially around Christmas next year.
[00:47:27] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir.
[00:47:38] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial, No Derivatives license.