I was invited recently to experience « Priceless Paris » with Mastercard‘s new concept (I was invited through Happy Curious) to the Roland Garros tennis stadium for the annual French tournament (what the Anglophones call the French Open). I have NEVER been to a tennis match, nor am I a huge sports fan. I like sports when « my » team is winning the finals, or when it’s the Olympics. But it’s not every day I get invited to major world sporting events and the Roland Garros tournament is quite prestigious, so I thought I better go!
And I am so glad I did, even though it meant waking up early on a Sunday (this is almost a crime in France). I headed over to the other side of Paris armed with sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat. First we were taken through an exclusive tour of the « backstage » areas. We saw the several places where the press does their thing, and where the players conduct interviews and all the other rooms that the regular crowd doesn’t see but where it all « happens » to bring the event live to millions of fans and spectators. We also visited the on-site museum which goes over the history of the place and the tennis players that have graced it’s courts.
The Roland Garros stadium was built in 1927 and is located just off the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Roland Garros was not a tennis player, he was a war hero who died in WWI, and the stadium was named after him to honor his memory.
One of the main courts is named after Suzanne Lenglen, who was a famous female player in the early 20th century. She was a tennis phenomenon and I would say, progressive. She refused to wear corsets and cumbersome clothing, she is the first woman tennis player to wear shorter skirts and invented new ways for women to dress for the game so that they had more ease in playing. In addition to that, she won a LOT of tournaments, and two olympic gold medals!
René Lacoste is also a name to retain from this place as he was a famous tennis star around the same time as miss Lenglen. And yes he is also the name behind the famous crocodiled shirts and fashion that we all know so well. He is one of the founding fathers of this giant stadium.
After our tour we were given tickets allowing us access to one of the main courts. I went to grab my seat in the Suzanne-Lenglen court to watch the first match of the day. A Russian and a Croatian lady were about to face off. I was directed to my, ahem… front row seat, thank you very much! Where I got a little neck exercise over the next 45 minutes and a nice little sun tan as I tried to figure out for myself the seemingly intricate rules of tennis playing.
After the first match, I hopped over to our lunch rendez-vous in the swanky Club des Loges! Quel repas! We were served delicious and beautiful food with attention to detail and impeccable service. Champagne and great conversation made it a delightful meal.
I had to skip off after lunch as I was heading to the countryside for the afternoon, but I think next year I will reserve a whole day for Roland Garros. I may even become a tennis fan! Here’s to looking forward to more Priceless Paris experiences!!!