What to Know About Roland-Garros: Getting tickets and where to sit at the French Open in Paris

What to Expect at Roland-Garros: Attending the French Open in Paris

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Greetings from one of the rainiest French Opens to date! I hardly ever blog while I’m still in a destination, but I’ve had plenty of downtime to compose my thoughts and write all about what to expect at Roland-Garros for tennis fans and newbies alike. Particularly if you’re attending the second week of this two-week tournament, you may want to listen up about what to know when going to the French Open.

What to expect at Roland-Garros: attending the French Open

On the flip side, are you one of the lucky ones attending the 2024 Paris Olympics? The Olympic tennis matches will be played on the Roland-Garros grounds, too.

 

What is Roland-Garros?

But first, if you’re a newcomer to tennis, you need to know this much: Roland-Garros is Paris’ largest tennis facility and the site of one of four Grand Slam tennis events—the others being the Australian Open in January, Wimbledon in June and the U.S. Open in August. Taking place for two weeks each May and June, Roland-Garros (also known as the French Open) is the only Grand Slam that is played on clay. This generally means the courts can take a bit more light rain than other events, but this week the rain has been downright relentless, and matches have been canceled more often than not.

Roland-Garros is located in the heart of Paris in the 16th arrondissement, and due to its convenient locale, it’s absolutely mobbed with tennis fans who train and plane it from all over the continent—as well as plenty of Americans like us on their quest to hit all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It’s incredibly easy to reach, which means it’s also incredibly hard to get tickets.

But before we get any further: Is Roland-Garros worth attending? Absolutely. Was navigating the ticketing system an absolute nightmare? Also yes.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this post. I spent months reading firsthand accounts and Reddit threads of how to get tickets for Roland-Garros so you don’t have to.

How to get tickets for Roland-Garros

If you’re going through the traditional ticket process for Roland-Garros, you’ll want to subscribe to the tournament’s newsletter so you know the day the tickets will go on general sale. This is usually in mid-March for the May tournament, and they sell out within hours of being available to the general sale.

The ticket sale started at 11am Parisian time, which was 4am for us in Tennessee. So at 3:30am, my alarm woke me up, and I queued up multiple browsers across three computers and my phone. I also had my mom do the same from her house. In the end, our numbers in the queue were anywhere from 30,000 to 300,000. I stayed online until I got to the front of the queue, and there were so few tickets left, I panic-bought whatever I could find. My mom never did manage to get “in.” In full transparency, here is what Roland-Garros tickets cost and how much we paid per session going through the main sale:

Buying tickets for Roland Garros: how to get them and what they cost

The lowest we paid was €370 for a premium / VIP day pass with €520 being the most. For a single night session that was not VIP, we spent €169.

You can buy a max of eight sessions per ticket-buyer, so even though I bought four for my mom and four for me, I reached my max. If Mom had been able to get through, she would have been able to purchase a maximum of eight sessions, as well, even though she already had four sessions in her name that I had bought. This part was confusing.

As someone who has attended multiple Taylor concerts over the years—including three Eras shows—when I say Roland-Garros was on par with getting Taylor tickets in terms of stress and difficulty, I’m not even joking. You better be on your computer the moment they go on sale and ready, or you’re never going to get tickets the traditional route. Which leads me to this.

What to expect at Roland-Garros: attending the French Open

Buying hospitality packages or after-market tickets for Roland-Garros

We spoke to several Americans who went through tennis brokers or hospitality package deals to bundle their lodging and session passes and ensure they got tickets. Though I’ve never personally gone this route, this is obviously a more surefire way to guarantee admission to Roland-Garros, particularly if you’ve booked your flights and hotels a year out like we did. Also, Roland-Garros opens up tickets for resale as the week goes on, but I was constantly refreshing for three days straight and never managed to get in (much like Ticketmaster).

Roland-Garros has gone to an all-mobile ticketing system, which means the only way in the tournament is by having the ticket loaded into your app before you’re on the grounds. Your name and birthdate are also tied to this ticket. You can, however, buy tickets for others, then transfer them to them, but the ID’ing process makes buying after-market tickets for Roland-Garros extremely sketchy.

Thanks to a pilot friend who attended Roland-Garros last year, I knew of at least one reputable after-market seller, GoalTickets.com, which seems to mainly deal professional sporting events in Europe like the Olympics. So when we found a day session pass that included a seat at Philippe-Chatrier for €400 a person the night before, we jumped on them. You have to enter the name, birthdate and email address of each ticket holder when you go through the purchasing process, so the tickets can be transferred to your Roland-Garros account, which they were almost immediately.

Which tickets should I get at Roland-Garros?

What tickets access what courts at Roland-Garros is by far the most confusing part of the process. There are so many different ticket options—then VIP packages on top of that—that I didn’t even understand until after four full days on the grounds.

Are VIP passes at Roland-Garros worth the price?

Grounds pass

The grounds pass gets you access to all the outside courts (courts 2 through 14), as well as the unreserved upper section at Suzanne-Lenglen, the second biggest court, and the unreserved section of Simonne-Mathieu. It does not allow you access to the main court, Philippe-Chatrier, which in the early rounds only has three day session matches and one night session match to begin with.

Grounds pass at Roland-Garros: which ticket is best?

So if you’re a casual tennis fan—and it’s not a rainy year—the grounds pass likely makes the most sense for you. When the grounds pass would suck is a week like this week when everything is rained out. That said, you get a refund for the pass if less than two hours of play time commenced.

Court Philippe-Chatrier

Every one of the five sessions we purchased were a Philippe-Chatrier ticket, which allows access to all outside courts and the unreserved section at Simonne-Mathieu, as well as an assigned seat within the main stadium, which does have a retractable roof. It does not include admission to Suzanne-Lenglen; that is a separate ticket. Originally built in 1928, Philippe-Chatrier was renovated a few years back with lighting and a retractable roof; the stadium can hold 15,225 spectators, and the seats are quite comfortable with padded backs.

What to expect at Roland-Garros: attending the French Open

After attending Indian Wells, the U.S. Open and the Cincy Open, we bought the Philippe Chatrier tickets thinking it was our best shot at seeing so many of our favorite top-10 ranked players. What we didn’t know before arriving at Roland-Garros is that the French do not put the biggest matches on the main court; rather, they put the French men (and occasionally women).

So on the first night we were there, Rafa Nadal was playing his last ever match against Sascha Zverev, who has a great shot at winning the whole thing, which you would think would be the featured night match. It wasn’t. Instead, we got to hear the cheers for Nadal from the outside of the afternoon match, and Gael Monfils got the prime spot on Philippe-Chatrier instead (which was a fun match, but c’mon … give Rafa, the most winning Roland-Garros champion of all time, his respect!).

Grounds pass at Roland-Garros: which ticket is best?

Still, I’m very glad we had this option on the day all outside matches were rained out, as we had a warm and cozy seat and got to see eight hours of tennis across three matches—Caroline Garcia versus Sofia Kenin, Jesper de Jong versus Carlos Alcaraz, Naomi Osaki versus Iga Swiatek—only moving for snack and bathroom breaks.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Suzanne-Lenglen is the second largest court at Roland-Garros with a capacity of 10,056 seats. Thankfully, as of this year, there’s also a retractable roof. After seven straight days of rain delays, this was a great year for Roland-Garros to introduce its second indoor-outdoor court. Suzanne-Lenglen will host tennis and boxing events at the 2024 Olympics. While we didn’t ever get to go inside, I’m sure it was lovely as all the Roland-Garros courts were.

Suzanne-Lenglen Court at Roland-Garros in Paris, France

Court Simonne-Mathieu

Court Simonne-Mathieu is a bit of a stroll from the rest of the grounds, so we only caught one match there: a heated three-setter between Olga Danilovic and Donna Vekic. This court has a capacity of 5,000 seats and is absolutely stunning in that it is situated smack in the middle of a botanical garden with a greenhouse you walk through to access your seat. If you have a grounds pass or a ticket to Philippe-Chatrier or Suzanne-Lenglen, you can get into the upper unreserved seats at any Simonne-Mathieu match.

Court Simmone-Mathieu at Roland-Garros in Paris, France

Premium / VIP passes

Three of the five sessions we had tickets for, we had premium passes (or VIP tickets) not for any reason other than that was all that was available during the tense ticket-buying process. For our two day premium passes, we had  Premium Découverte, which gave us access to the complimentary bar in La Divine at Suzanne-Lenglen throughout the session in La Divine and drinks (champagne, beer, spritzes, coffee, soda) at any time during the day.

VIP packages at Roland-Garros: what to expect

The food at La Divine was great, but it was the same every time, and it was definitely more passed apps and canapes than an actual filling meal. Still, we ate enough to hold us over between sessions and prevent us from having to buy the subpar food in the Roland-Garros convenience stores. I also liked the VIP passes for going to use the private bathrooms when hurrying between matches and not having to wait in line.

VIP packages at Roland-Garros: what to expect

For the first night session we attended, we had Premium Immersion, which gave us early entry at 6pm through a private gate (Gate 49, at Boulevard d’Auteuil), access to La Brasserie des Mousquetaires all evening where we could enjoy drinks throughout the session and a cocktail dinner served between 6:45pm and 8pm. This did not give us any direct access to the stadium (or view of the matches other than the TVs), nor could we take drinks out of the lounge and into the stadium.

The difference between day sessions and night sessions

I much prefer the day session at Roland-Garros (or any tennis event really) because you get to see so much tennis, particularly in the early rounds.

What to expect at Roland-Garros, the French Open in Paris

Day sessions: what to know

For day sessions, you can get into the ground starting at 10am. The matches on outside courts and Suzanne Lenglen start at 11am, while the first match of the day on Philippe Chatrier is at 12pm. Your ticket will get you into the rest of the day until the night session starts, and if the outside matches go well into the night, you can stay on those courts as long as you want—they don’t kick you out! Most of the outside courts don’t have lights, so they can only go until 10pm (when it gets dark here in Paris), but a few do.

Night sessions: what to know

For night sessions, you can get into the grounds from 6:30pm on (or 6pm with VIP). There’s only technically one night session match per night on each Philippe-Chatrier and Suzanne-Lenglen courts, so unless it’s a big name you want to see, you’re far better off getting a day session pass to Roland-Garros. That said, you can also access any outside matches still going on—and this week with all the rain delays, there have been plenty—so if there are some going late, I’d recommend getting there the moment you can get through the gates and see as many of the outside matches as possible before the main event on Philippe-Chatrier or Suzanne-Lenglen.

What to expect at Roland-Garros: attending the French Open

Reselling your Roland-Garros tickets

The mobile app does make it extremely easy to resell your Roland-Garros tickets, but even though you’re doing so directly through the tournament’s portal, they take a hefty commission. We put ours up the day of Sinner’s night match, and for a night session ticket we bought through Roland-Garros for €169 that sold within seconds, we got €63 back each, despite them reselling for retail price or higher. I could have sold my ticket via GoalTickets.com or another third-party, but honestly, I didn’t want to deal with it.

Roland Garros: reselling tickets

Getting to Roland-Garros

There is a metro stop, Boulogne Jean Jaurès, directly by Roland-Garros that you can take if you’re staying by a metro. We had planned to do this, but our Airbnb in the 15th arr. on Rue Alain Chartier wound up being just 10 to 15 minutes from Roland-Garros by car, so we took a Bolt each way and paid 10 euro on average (and €25 once during surge pricing). This was not much more than it would have cost us for two metro tickets at €2.10 a person. Plus, we left the grounds well after 10pm most nights, so it also just felt safer.

How to get to Roland-Garros: What to expect at the French Open

Bolt is like European Uber, and we used it more than a dozen times in Paris and had only good experiences. I recommend downloading the app before you go and looking for Bolt promo codes on Reddit that give you discounted rides. I found one that got us 20% off our first 10 rides.

There are also taxis lined up outside of the Roland-Garros stadium at the security entrances, but they were charging a flat fee of €50 to get back “into the city,” which in reality is a hop, skip and jump away.

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What can you bring into Roland-Garros?

The bag policy states no backpacks and no bags more than 15 liters in capacity, but I found that people abused this policy and that security didn’t really care so long as it wasn’t a suitcase. This is Europe, so you don’t have to bring clear bags. Out of respect for the others sitting near you in the stands, please make sure you’re carrying a bag that is small enough that you’re not knocking over those around you (this happened to me many times!).

What to Bring to Roland-Garros

With a small sling backpack, I was able to fit an extra layer, a poncho, a visor, back-up chargers, my wallet, sunscreen, my emergency meds, granola bars and a small camera. I did not take my DSLR or mirrorless camera, but I saw several non-media spectators with them. Instead, I rented this compact camera (promo code LUNATIC15 if you want 15% off) to save myself the trouble.

If you’re doing a general admission ticket, your bag will be checked once when you’re crossing the street into the Roland-Garros barriers and once when you go through the ticket scan line. If you have a VIP ticket, your bag will be checked when crossing the street and then at special Gate, likely 49, which is basically the fast-track line into the Roland-Garros grounds. This was the one thing I missed the sole session we didn’t have VIP access: the quick pass-through versus gen-pop queuing. But I don’t think that aspect alone warrants the hefty prices of VIP (again, which we only did because it was the only tickets we could get on the site!).

You can also bring in water bottles that are 1.5 liters or less in size, and there are refill stations throughout the grounds so bring an empty canteen. You can also bring in snacks, so if you don’t want to drop a mint on food at Roland-Garros, I recommend doing this. We didn’t eat a lot from the food vendors at Roland-Garros other than a caprese sandwich, which was delicious, but I saw a lot of people online complaining about how expensive the food was for the price.

Water refill stations at Roland-Garros in Paris, France

I did have a couple Lavazza cappuccinos which at €7.50 a pop were steep for being basic drinks, but it was freezing out and I didn’t buy any cocktails like I typically do at tournaments due to the weather and the lack of bathrooms, so girl math and whatnot. Though the last night there, I felt like I needed to try the beer, so I had a €12 Leffe, which is self-serve at the beer stand and also requires a €2 deposit for the cup that you’ll get back once you return it.

Food and drink at Roland-Garros: What to expect at the French Open

Where to stay for Roland-Garros

Roland-Garros is on the other side of the Seine in the 16th Arrondissement. If you’re going to Roland-Garros this year, I’m assuming you already have a place to stay. I’ll update this post before next year’s Roland-Garros with a more thorough list of hotel recommendations that aren’t far from the tournament site.

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We originally booked at the Radisson Blu Paris Boulogne eleven months out, then a few months ago, they canceled our booking without reasoning or so much as a message. Emails and calls went unreturned, and I got a bit panicked knowing it was an Olympic year, so I booked an Airbnb in the 15th Arrondissement off of Rue de Vaugirard. We arrived and it was not as described and also quite cluttered and dirty. The host had a refund policy where we could get a full refund for all unused nights within 24 hours (guess she’d had this issue before…), so we stayed a night then canceled the following six and booked this gem owned by an architect named Sylvie for the remaining time.

I would absolutely book Sylvie’s place again, but I’m not sure I’d go through the general Airbnb route in Paris again if I didn’t know the host (or have a direct recommendation or referral to one) as so many people reached out to tell me their similar horror stories, and Airbnb is worthless in guest resolution when the host is at fault. I loved the 15th for its proximity to the Eiffel Tour, the Seine, Montmartre and all of the iconic Paris museums.

Other things to know about Roland-Garros

A few more key questions about Roland-Garros, answered:

Getting between stadiums at Roland-Garros

The bottleneck between Suzanne-Lenglen and the outer courts (Court 11 and up) is real! I almost had a panic attack when I tried to move from Philippe-Chatrier to Court 11 when the two main courts were letting out at the same time. This is my biggest criticism of Roland-Garros; the layout isn’t conducive to moving around when big matches are letting out simultaneously, not like more thoughtfully designed grounds like Indian Wells. I assume this is because Roland-Garros is in the middle of a city and space is a premium, but I wish they’d do something to help with the crowd control as it felt like someone could easily get crushed.

Buying merch at Roland-Garros

A friend who had been before said a lot of the branded Roland-Garros merch sells out by week two so to go to the store when you first get there. We did, to buy our ponchos (€15) and then again the next night to buy Mom a pair of tennis shoes since she only brought sandals. There’s a huge store right by the main entrance and a few smaller boutiques and T-shirt stands throughout the grounds. Most of the T-shirts ran from €20 to €37 and the sweatshirts and hoodies were in the €70 range.

You can also buy the clothing on the Roland-Garros website and have it shipped for free to your house, which we did so we didn’t have to haul our new fits home with us. Since LaCoste is the official Roland-Garros sponsor, you’ll find a whole lot of LaCoste clothing and shoes, as well as Wilson and Babolat.

Queuing to get into outside courts

The stadiums of Court 6, 7, 8 and 9 are in a four-square pattern between Suzanne-Lenglen and Philippe-Chatrier. We watched a four-hour Frances Tiafoe match here during which we had to wait 45 minutes to get in. So if there’s someone you really want to see on one of these four courts, I suggest you arrive early as you’ll likely have to queue first.

Wi-Fi and charging your phone

The Roland-Garros WiFi was quite good. There were only a few times I couldn’t get on WiFi in the early rounds. Still, you’ll need to have data enabled when you arrive on the grounds, as the tickets in the mobile app only show when you’re connected (and screenshots of your tickets will not fly). So if you’re coming from overseas, make sure your phone will work in France, then you can turn it right back on airplane mode when you’re inside the grounds to save money and preserve your battery.

I recommend taking a fully charged phone and at least two external batteries if you’re going for the full day session. I used two of these USB-C chargers for my iPhone 15 Pro while my mom used one of these compact chargers for her iPhone 14; though there was only one day I needed the second back-up charger, it was good insurance for us since we needed to scan our tickets every time we went into Phillipe Chatrier, as well as use my phone for Bolt after we left.

Charging lockers at Roland-Garros, the French Open

When we weren’t using data to scan our tickets or check the schedule, I kept my phone in airplane mode at all times (and got on WiFi if I wanted to check the schedule). The app also prompts you to enter dark mode, which I kept enabled to further preserve battery. There are charging lockers on site at key spots around the grounds if you’re desperate. You may just have to wait to use them.

The bathroom situation at Roland-Garros

If you get on the Roland-Garros app, you can zoom into the site map and find all the bathroom points around the grounds. Compared to other tennis tournaments I’ve attended, the bathrooms at Roland-Garros felt scarce. There were only two bathrooms at Philippe Chatrier total, and they are outside the court, so you have to go out of the stadium if you need to go to the toilet between matches and lines could be very long. So if you’re someone with an active bladder, I recommend going easy on the champagne and beer to limit the number of bathroom stops you need to make.

OK, that was a lot of information on what to expect at Roland-Garros, so let me know if I missed anything. Despite the weather, which can’t be helped, I really love this tournament and would recommend it to all tennis fans. I’d also do it very differently next time and buy after-market tickets on GoalTickets.com a few days before each session rather than spending so much on VIP packages we didn’t really get to use fully thanks to the weather. But you live, you learn, you know?


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How to Plan a Trip to Roland-Garros, the French Open in Paris, France
How to Plan a Trip to Roland-Garros, the French Open in Paris, France
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