Let’s start with the bad news about the French Open setting. There's no point in kidding you: the patch around the Roland Garros tennis stadium - the no man’s land between the bungalows of the petit bourgeois suburbs and the stuffy 16th arrondissement - is not the most culturally vibrant area of Paris.Roland Garros Stadium — Photo courtesy of Sébastien Bertrand
Which does not mean, of course, that you can't have a good time after Nadal et al have packed in their rackets for the day. For one, if you're interested in sports – which, let me guess, you probably are – you've come to the right place. There's more choice here than anywhere else in Paris.
Sports Lovers Have Many Options
Just a few blocks away, for example, you will find the Parc des Princes, one of Europe’s most storied sports venues, originally built as a velodrome (this is where the Tour de France ended until the late 1960s) and nowadays the official home of Paris St Germain FC – one of Europe’s richest if not (yet) best football clubs, with enough cash to afford the services of one David Beckham. There are no more home games scheduled for late May and early June, but you can join a stadium tour most days of the week. (More information here: .)
Then, of course, there is the horse racing. The near-by Bois de Boulogne houses two of Europe’s most famous tracks: Auteuil for the steeplechasers and Longchamp for the flat races. Meetings have been scheduled in either hippodrome for the weeks of the French Open. If you are interested, best buy yourself a racing paper at the local kiosque and take it from there.Flat races at Longchamp — Photo courtesy of Copyleft
Finally, near the Porte de St Cloud, you can find the Pierre de Coubertin indoor arena where there are frequent basketball games and many other sports events besides.
Great Food Near Roland Garros
The second upside to the extreme southwest of Paris is that this part of town – like all wealthy neighborhoods around the world – provides you with plenty of places where you can be exquisitely fed. As long as you are willing to pay the price, that is.
At the top end of the scale, there is the Relais d’Auteuil on 31 Boulevard Murat – sinful, luxurious and expensive even for restaurants of its category (it has one star in the Guide Michelin).
One block and one price category down on the same Boulevard (at no. 82), you can find the excellent Marius, one of Paris’s most famous fish restaurants – classical, simple and elegant. When I was working at the offices of near-by television channel TF1, this is where we took French business clients whom we wanted to impress.The area near Roland Garros has several fine dining options. — Photo courtesy of Edsel Little
Anglo-Saxon and German guests were treated at the River Cafe, a boat restaurant moored on the south bank of the Seine overlooking the Ile St Germain. The food here is not as good, but the atmosphere is so lively and enchanting that you just can’t care. (It was also fun coming here because we could observe TF1 executives lunching here with their ladies who sometimes were their wives and sometimes were not.)Bois de Boulogne — Photo courtesy of Benchaum
Beautiful Daytime Strolling
Thirdly, there is the Bois de Boulogne for scenic walks, particularly around the lake, one of the few parts of the park where you are not constantly distracted by the noise from the near-by ring road (the much-dreaded peripherique).
WARNING: This is something you should only do during the day, not after the tennis is over: as soon as the dusk settles over the Bois, the family-friendly forest turns into Europe’s largest open-air brothel. You have been warned!