Once Roland Garros (the French Open) begins – unless you've purchased your tickets for entry into the stadium complex to watch the exciting tennis matches between the world's top names like Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Li Na and Sharapova – you'll find it next to impossible to get in.
So the best time to visit the Museum of the French Federation of Tennis (aka the "Tenniseum") is any time before or after the weeks of the French Open.
Visiting the Tenniseum in Paris gives you the opportunity to visit the stadium on a guided tour. These tours, which must be booked in advance, include visiting the whole stadium grounds.
See the French Open courts via a tour of the Tenniseum — Photo courtesy of French Federation of Tennis
You'll catch glimpses into the stands and courts, such as the famous Philippe Chatrier court. Yes, that means you get to see up close some of the finest red clay courts in the world, as well as the player-only zones, the changing rooms and the media center.
Meanwhile, you'll get to learn about the history of Roland Garros and the fabulous sports personalities who have made this stadium-complex so famous.
The entrance to the Tenniseum itself is housed in a very humble-looking shack that was once the groundskeeper's pavilion. But don't let this deceive you: once you follow the flight of stairs down to the underground level, you'll discover a vast museum with several large designated areas all devoted to tennis, both the modern game as we know it now and also the game that is known as “real tennis,” which was played here in Paris as far back as the times of King Charles V (circa 1370 AD).
The Tenniseum is Paris' museum devoted to tennis, and it's on the grounds of the Roland Garros stadium — Photo courtesy of French Federation of Tennis
The Tenniseum at Roland Garros has boasting rights to being the world's foremost multimedia tennis museum. The whole underground complex stretches 2,200 square meters (23,680 square feet). It houses a permanent exhibition room, two rooms for temporary exhibitions, a library and a multimedia center.
The permanent exhibition room and the multimedia center offer visitors over 4,400 hours of both digitized and archived films dating all the way back to 1897; they're available for viewing on 20 screens. Viewing materials include exclusive interviews with champions both past and present, match highlights and illustrated catalogues (plates, prints and various objects).
The library is equally as mesmerizing, created as a complement to the media center. Here, you have access to over 3,000 print documents that you're free to leaf through. The library also offers a database accessed via computer, which is an archive of all documents on file at the museum, from the first treaty of the jeu de paume, or “real tennis,” all the way through to contemporary, recent publications concerning the game of tennis.
To combine a visit to the Tenniseum with the guided tour of the Stade Roland Garros, you must book in advance. The stadium tour lasts about an hour. Luckily for visitors, tours are conducted in both English and French. Family rates are available as well.
The museum is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During French school holidays, it's open Tuesday through Sunday.