For inveterate sports fans who need a good dose of athletic adrenaline, Paris can supply an ample fix. The French go crazy for soccer, rugby, tennis, and horse racing, among other sports.
Paris boasts an army of avid horse-racing fans who get to the city’s eight racetracks whenever possible. Info on races is available in newspapers like L’Equipe, sold at Paris kiosks, and online at www.france-galop.com.
The epicenter of Paris horse racing is the newly refurbished Hippodrome de Longchamp, in the Bois de Boulogne, 16 arrond. (tel. 01-44-30-75-00; RER or Métro: Porte Maillot, and then a free shuttle bus on race days; otherwise, bus 244). Established in 1855 during the autocratic and pleasure-loving reign of Napoleon III, it’s the most prestigious track, boasts the greatest number of promising thoroughbreds, and awards the largest purse in France. The most important event at Longchamp is the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in early October. Sports aside, it’s also the venue for some of the city’s biggest music festivals.
Another racing venue is the Hippodrome d’Auteuil, also in the Bois de Boulogne (tel. 01-40-71-47-47; Métro: Porte Auteuil), known for its steeplechases and obstacle courses. On Sundays in April and May, both host Les Dimanches au Galop, a day-long racing fiesta that includes races by both professionals and amateurs, shows, games, and of course, pony rides, all free of charge. Visit www.evenements.france-galop.com for details.
Known throughout France as le football, or just le foot, soccer is one of France’s most popular national sports. The Paris team is Paris Saint-Germain, also known as PSG. They play their home matches at the Parc des Princes, 24 rue du Commandant Guilbaud, 16 arrond. (www.leparcdesprinces.fr; Métro: Porte de Saint-Cloud), a stadium with a capacity of almost 49,000 spectators. The season runs September to May; tickets start at 12€ and go through the roof. Note: A small but nasty segment of PSG fans can get violent at games, particularly when the match is against a rival team like Marseilles. National games, played at the Stade de France in the nearby suburb of Saint-Denis are generally much calmer.
France’s version of Wimbledon, the French Open (or as it’s known here, Roland Garros; www.rolandgarros.com), takes place over 2 weeks between late May and early June in the Roland Garros Stadium in the 16th arrond. (Métro: Porte d’Auteuil). Tickets should be purchased online well in advance for this world-scale tennis event.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.