The French Open fails to thrill as practical challenges interrupted my enjoyment of the tennis.
First, the French Open is very crowded; far more so than any of the ATP events I’ve attended thus far. This crowd makes the viewing of matches on the outside courts a real challenge because the moment you leave your seat, you’ve lost your place on that court for at least an hour. Any courts with noteworthy player match-ups quickly fill to capacity, leaving you stranded and forced to sit in on an available match, likely with subpar players.
Second, players of quality are scheduled on the three main sold out courts (Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen, and Court I). As the French Open likes to televise matches mostly with French players on the large screens for public viewing on the grounds, it’s difficult to watch a sold out match with a non-French player. Plus, the areas for watching the televised matches were severely limited and could only accommodate a modest amount of people comfortably.
Third, the level of service and assistance is extremely poor. I had a fifth day free and decided to venture to the grounds to get an evening ticket. I stood in line for three hours only to be turned away with over 150 people for no apparent reason. The officials could not give a reason for why they were refusing to let folks into the tournament on the after 5 PM ticket, even though a number of people were exiting and matches were still on-going. The spectator guide could have been helpful but it was printed entirely in French, no English or Spanish. Seriously, the number one player is Spanish!
Fourth, this has less to do with the tournament and more to do with the city of Paris in general. This city is not friendly to the solo traveler; you will not get a pleasant word from anyone; you are on your own buster! I was in Berlin for less than two hours and I’d already been aided by two very helpful people who greeted me with a smile and well wishes. You just can’t beat that human connection. For all the above reasons and many subtler ones, Paris was not a bright spot on my tennis adventures.