Roland-Garros: All You Need to Know for the French Open

Buy Tickets Online

Roland-Garros has successfully eliminated scalping tickets at the French Open.  While it is possible to get tickets on third party sites or through a tour group beware that they are legitimate as names are assigned to the ticket during the 15-minute purchasing time slot.

All tickets to Roland-Garros must be purchased online.  There are no sales at the event.  As such, the best website to visit for buying tickets is the Roland-Garros Official Site.  Businesses and FFT Club Members get priority after which tickets go on sale to groups.  The General Public may purchase premium packages at the beginning of March and regular packages two weeks later.  Resale begins one month later in mid-April and last-minute tickets go on sale the first week of May.

It is best to set up an account on the Roland-Garros website prior to the sale time, so that all details are handled in advance.  With an account set up, decide which type of ticket package to buy. Some packages include an air-conditioned club and better food.  For regular tickets, choose between one of the three main courts or general admission.

The Main Courts at Roland-Garros

The main court tickets provide access to the specific court for which the ticket is purchased as well as outside courts.  Philippe Chatrier is the largest court and generally highlights the best players, however, not always, which makes purchasing tickets in advance tricky if seeing a certain player is important.

Suzanne Lenglen is the second largest court and also holds excellent matches.  The newest and third court is Simmone-Mathieu.  Currently, none of the courts are covered, but by 2020 Philippe Chatrier is supposed to be.  During the first week of play, professionals play on all courts, including outside courts.  During the second week of play, however, most of the singles matches are in the main courts and only a few doubles matches and junior tennis can be found on outside courts, so choose ground passes accordingly.

Scheduled Play at Roland-Garros

It is possible to review the brackets and rankings of each player and guess where they might be playing should they make it through to the next round.  As an example, during the last-minute sales, tickets were available for about every day except Sun, June 2nd on Philippe Chatrier which would be featuring 4th round matches and likely the then 11-time winner, Nadal. 

Actually, this is the day I wanted to attend, as I think the 4th round features several competitive matches. In addition, I travelled to France simply to see my favorite men’s player, Nadal, compete on his best surface.  When the draw came out, Nadal and Federer were scheduled to play back to back.  What?!? 

My browser couldn’t refresh fast enough to purchase a scarce ticket.  After trying for an hour at mid-night, I gave up, as I realized they were both playing no names, and the matches would be blowouts anyway.  Instead, I snagged a fantastic ticket in the corner of Suzanne Lenglen to watch some potentially very competitive matches at Roland-Garros.

Getting to Roland-Garros

With my electronic ticket containing both a QR code and my name in hand, I took the Metro to the stadium. For visitors, this is the cheapest and easiest way to arrive.  I intentionally chose the Hotel Haussman Saint Augustin in Paris as my base as it was close to attractions, but also was conveniently located on line 9 which was a direct shot to Roland-Garros.

The metro in Paris is extremely well marked and easy to ride. I purchased a three day pass to slip into the turnstyle each time I used the system.  But if in doubt of where to go, just follow all the other tennis fans.  It is also helpful to download the metro app (and for that matter the Roland-Garros app too). Upon exit, Roland-Garros officials direct visitors through the tunnel to the stairs where other officials direct the crowds to the event.

Main Gate Entry Process

There are two security check points.  At the first, guards take a short glance in bags, that can be 15 liters in size.  Food and small water bottles are allowed in the stadium along with “non-pointy” umbrellas and cameras with short lenses.

items not allowed in Roland-Garros
Read the fine print: Look like no water bottles, food or umbrellas, but it’s no big water bottles, ice packs or sharp umbrellas

Soon, visitors reach a secondary check point by the entry gates where bags are rechecked, and each person is patted down by the appropriate sexed security personnel.  Finally, at the ticket gate, the electronic ticket is scanned in exchange for a printed ticket.  NOTE the word EXCHANGE!  At this point, the small printed ticket is used to track entry and exit to the stadiums and the park so don’t throw it away.

Before entering into Roland-Garros, the ticket is checked against one’s photo ID as the loud-speaker warns people to take care with scalping tickets which will likely be invalid.

Stadium Entry Process

As with all big tennis tournaments, shops, sponsor booths, and food stalls line the entry way.  Aside for a quick stop into the official store for a visor and quick browse among the food stalls which all sold the same thing including a selection of sandwiches, snacks, some fruit and salads, I headed right to Suzanne Lenglen.

signs to other tennis tounaments by the entrance
By the entrance

I showed my electronic ticket and ID to the ticket taker at my section, and she asked about my paper ticket. 

I said, “I don’t have one.” 

She responded, “They didn’t print a ticket for you at the front gate?”

“Oh yes,” I replied as I searched through my wallet.  Fortunately, I didn’t throw it away!!!

After comparing the names, she tore my ticket and let me through.

printed ticket
Name on printed ticket

The Fourth Round Matches

Keys vs Siniakova

With my bottle of water and a few snacks, I settled into the rather empty stadium around 10:30am and prepared for the first match between American Madison Keys and competitor Katerina Siniakova.  They played a rather uneventful match beneath a light drizzle with Keys winning in straight sets.

Stadium Exit Process

After the match, I got up to stretch my legs and to find some lunch.  Upon exiting the stadium, the ticket taker handed me a small piece of paper, something else I would have likely thrown away except the gentleman in front of me asked, “I present this with my ticket to get back in?”  YES!

Exit ticket for Roland Garros
This exit ticket was for Philippe Chatrier the following day

This way spectators may return without having to continuously show their ID.  And it keeps ground pass holders from asking main court ticket holders for their ticket, as usually when visitors leave the stadium for the last time, they don’t take the piece of paper which changes design daily.

Now that I had the system down, I came and went as I pleased and planned plenty of time for a bathroom break which is chaotic near the front of Suzanne Lenglen as the “line” or perhaps better called jumble, juts out into the two way traffic.

Nishikoiri vs Paire

The next scheduled tennis match was supposed to be Alexander Zverev vs Fabio Fognini, but due to rain delays and ultimately darkness the previous day, the remainder of the Kei Nishikori vs Benoit Paire match was inserted. 

At first, I felt a little upset over this because I was looking forward to seeing the 5th seed playing against the recent winner of Monte Carlo. In addition Del Potro, an excellent Argentinian as well as Amanda Anisimova, an up and coming American were scheduled to play after that. I wanted to see both them too, and darkness would surely prevail.

Soon I realized, the 7th seed Nishikori was battling a Frenchman.  Wow…what an atmosphere!  And there was more intensity from the start as they were beginning their 4th set and every point mattered. The French were behind their unseeded country man.  Nishikori endured bugle calls and a rowdy crowd to pull out a five set victory. I highly recommend going to a match featuring a French player!

Zverev vs Fognini

The Zverev vs Fognini match had its up and downs. Zverev lost the first set after playing a dreadful service game, double faulting twice, at 3-4. At 2-2 in the second set it looked like history would repeat itself with two more double faults, but Zverev, who had the most aces in the tournament thus far, managed two and served himself out of trouble.

At this point, Zverev cruised through the second and third set as Fognini sprayed the ball. In the fourth set, however, they duked it out in a tie break, and Zverev ultimately won in four sets.

Del Potro vs Khachanov

Next up was the much-awaited match between Del Potro and Khachanov.  While I had never heard of the Russian Khachanov, any tennis fan knows the Argentinian, Del Potro, will draw rowdy fanatics.  This coupled with an 8th vs 10th seed paring, we were in for some excitement!  They played a grueling four-setter which finished in the fading light with a Khachanov win.

Due to darkness, the Anisimova match was moved to another court, another risk when buying tickets to see a certain player.  On the flip side, after a certain time in the evening, occasionally a main court will be free to enter.  In addition, a main court may also open to ground pass holders when the last match of the day is not competitive, and the tennis is about to end very early.  This happened when Simon Halep routed Swiatek on Philippe Chatrier.

The Scottish guy sitting next to me and I were relieved to have purchased tickets to a much better court of tennis for the day.

Quarter Final Matches

Stephens vs Konta

Since I had come all the way to France to see Nadal and failed, I made a last-ditch effort to buy a ticket the following day’s quarter final match.  He was scheduled to play Nishikori on Philippe Chatrier after the Sloan Stephens vs Johanna Konta match.

The women’s quarter finals began at 2pm.  While at lunch around 1pm, I purchased a nosebleed seat to the Philippe Chatrier court.  Miraculously, I made it from the Musee D’Orsay to Roland-Garros with bad metro connections in time to Stephens and Konta complete their first game.

Nadal vs Nishikori

Unfortunately, and fortunately, it wasn’t much of a match.  Konta crushed Stephens in an hour.  To me this was fortunate because all but two games of the three-set match between Nadal and Nishikori were completed before a massive storm came through.  While it wasn’t terribly competitive either, though not many matches against Nadal on clay are, at least I got to see him play, all be it from a distance!

Over the 24-hour time period, I experienced all types of weather at Roland-Garros.  The first day was mostly overcast with a few sprinkles and cool breeze making conditions rather comfortable for spectators.  The second day, it was so hot, I had to go buy ice cream, from the only vendor on the second story of Philippe Chatrier.  Then suddenly, massive storm clouds rolled in, and we were running for cover when play was stopped.

After the stadium cleared, I suppose I could have stuck around to see the last two Nadal games and maybe see if the Lenglen stadium, which featured another spectacular day of tennis, opened up for others, but instead I followed the masses out of the grounds.  I could have returned with my ticket but opted for a nice dinner near my hotel instead.

Overall, seeing tennis at Roland-Garros is pretty easy, and it doesn’t break the bank to buy a ticket at the last minute since scalping has been deterred.  It’s worth a visit for tennis fans, but be prepared for everything!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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