cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The French Say: Open!

Well, they actually just say, ROLAND-GARROS We're reverting back to Bourdain jumping off a cliff again, where's the food? T'ais tois, i'll find something to eat. Find something to eat where? The Stade Roland Garros on the opening day of the 2008 French Open that's where. On y va?

Yes it did start with just a jog past many months ago. Roland Garros; why does that sound familiar? Peddle up to the gate, 6h00 in the morning so no sane gate would be found open, read: Tennis. Ah! This is where the French Open is held, chouette! It's just down the street from me, my pretty little southern 16th at Auteuil has everything, horse tracks, Parc des Princes, and the Roland Garros, I must come back for a little grounds tour.

A few months later, after finally convincing a hesitant inmate to accompany me on one of my "I love my quartier" evening stoles, I take her past the Garros, "and this is the Roland Garros where the..." STOP. No. Shut Up. It's this close? I'm going to cry. Why didn't you tell me earlier! S, who in turn is one of the most fanatical professional tennis fans i've ever met (Katie and Petra excluding you) spent her summer in London at Wimbledon, and has made it her life goal to get to all 4 of the grand slams. We're getting ground passes, she says, period. And I want a grounds tour. Mallory, call, get it done. Yes master? Am I a secretary? Oh bother. hehe.

The month of May rolls into our court, still have not toured the grounds. Mallory, we are running out of time! S lectures, once Play starts at the end of the month there will be no time for grounds tours, what are you on about, get us there! I am starting to feel like one of those personal secretaries who cadies after someone and picks up the dry cleaning and calls to cancel nail appointments. Do it yourself, I'm not a slave. Maaaaallllooorrryyy I need you! Oh bother. Ring. Ring. Ring. Damn museum, why wont anyone answer the phone. Twice, a thrice, I'll send an email. Hmm, no response, let us walk down and see if we can schedule a tour in person.

M & S are along, S shreeks, oh my god that was Richard Gasquet who rust roller bladded by us! who? We arrive at the gate, pardon me, mr. gatekeeper, where can I go to find out about tours? (innadable French mumblings behind glass) he pops out to escort us about a kilometer. But 1 kilometer is never too short for me to ramble Mallory style, especially when faced by my most detested of all questions; are you on vacation? No. We're not on vacation, we live here, down the road actually, we've been here since September, we speak French, not tourists, did I say we speak French? We do, we just wanted to see the place before play starts. I am very, very sensitive to remarks of that sort.

Enter museum office. Bonjour! We want to go on the guided tour. Its done for today, but you can come back tomorrow for the English at 11h00 or the French at 14h00. Perfect, put my name down for 14h00. No. What was that? I turn and S is on the grumpy face, I don't want it in French. But we are in France, and why not, you speak French? No. I turn to the man as the look of murder on the face of S tells me I have lost. 11h00 monsieur.

We exit the museum and head to the gift shop. I tinker around, shuffling through over priced warm ups and sweat bands. Oh all right if you're going to be mopey brat go change it to French, but if there's anything I don't understand you're translating every damn word for me! Hooray! I skip back to the museum office. Bonjour, ah you, rebonjour! Yes hi, well, i'm a baby and got my wish, could you change us for the French tour? Of course, your friend doesn't speak French? Oh she does, she just doens't like it. Odd, to live in France then. Yes perhaps, but S is S, who could ever want to change her. Exactly.

The next day 14h00. Bonjour! I wave to the security guard who embarrassingly remembers us. We get to the office. Bonjour! Ah you! Welcome back. If there is any consolation for being a ridiculous person, it is perhaps that people remember you. Let the tour begin. Walk about, talk about, I won't lie I do not know particularly much about tennis history, but i do recognize names, this statue is Lacoste, oooh, polos! We weave between the outer courts, make our way into the Suzanne Lenglen court, through the press building, the media stations and press room, locker rooms, and then out onto the center court. Don't touch the clay! Oops. Touch. End of the tour: we will come back for the open, Mallory, make it happen. This time, I just smile, I'm on it.

Tickets for the French Open at first look are very complicated. Draws, pools, pre sales, what are they talking about. But it matters very little all of that, unless you are looking to purchase a real ticket which is going to be quite pricey. There are a certain amount of way-in-the-back center court tickets left for people to buy day of in the morning, but youre still looking at around 50€ a piece. The rest of us? Grounds passes or evening passes. Grounds passes get you in the Garros for the whole day and access to any match on the outer courts--outer courts, meaning the big names are off limits. But what does that matter? Anyone able to make it to play during the French Open is good enough in my view to watch. So I don't get to view the big boys? Paleeeaase. I got my champs to view, and at 21€! It is a privelage to even be behind the gate. so neener neener.

25 Mai 2008: Opening day French Open, weather: no rain expected until 18h00, may be around 18-20°. Arrive at the ticket office to secure ground passes: 8h20 am. Let the games begin.

The ticket office doesn't open until 10h00. Line patience never killed anyone. Buy a program to pass the time, let us in let us in! We're in. First match: court 2, Josselin Ouanna of France (a Lucky Loser meaning he didn't qualify but got in grace à someone else not being able to) versus Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina. I know France is my country, but I was pulling for Argentina. And we won! In a three set match. Time for lunch. What does the Roland Garros have to eat? Myriad sandwiches, baguets, muffins, hotdogs. Pleasing to the eyes. But what does the Roland Garros have for ME to eat, tomatoes with mozerella and gezpacco in a juice box is about it. But everything is very cute with red and white stripes, and a little bottle of olive oil how classe!

The big matches on the center court are going on all day, we take lunch at the circle in front of the court to join the hundreds in viewing the "big screen" for matches such as Denis Gremelmayr (Deutschland) versus Novak Djokovic (Serbia) the later winning in 4 sets, and the big show of the day, Gustavo Kuerten (Brazeeel) versus Paul-Henri Mathieu, a Frenchie. Though Mathieu (three first names?) came out on top in three sets, Kuerten was the real crowd pleaser as it was his "Dernière Samba à Paris" as the cover page of the tournament program read. Three time past Roland Garros winner, but for today his final appearance, the crowd arrived like a sea of yellow and green to pay tribute to the man who charmed all with his "...magnifique sourire, cheveux longs et look de surfeur." Guga, as the center page reads, "le soleil de Roland-Garros." Au revoir.

My second match of the day: holy hell. Carlos Moya (Espagne) versus Eduardo Schwank (Argentina. again.) Moya is very famous, so I am told, but I find myself cheering for the Argentinian again. Vamos Eduardo! What a match! 4hours, two set tie breakers, and play until the 5th set! But in the end, my first day of viewing live professional tennis taught me this: Argentinians rule the clay. And the second is particularly very nice to look at, I suggest you look at his legs. look at them! He's a beast, and they become a dirty orange when the clay combines and clings to fresh sweat. Oh, sorry, I didn't get around to any lady matches today.

What have we learned about tennis? We know now that I've had it, I like it very much, enough to be there 11 hours practically unconcsious by a fever and swollen throat, but it was Roland Garros! We know that rookie Argentinians are killers. We know Mallory has her first favorite professional tennis player. We know that next time, bring your own lunch, and we know that Paris is made just all that much more perfect by the fact that I have been made a little tiny part today in something as grand as the Roland Garros. Now there are no strawberries & cream with a sip of Champange, Wimbledon monoploizes that beauty, but Roland Garros has somthing else just as tastey, whether edible or not, I'm not sure. I will follow Roland Garros through this year, will you follow along with me? Rookie fans all must start somewhere. It goes like this: quinze, trente, quarante, I win. Game, set, match.

à bientot


Núria said...

YOu are too funny!!! And I agree with you with the Argentinian guy :D... he looks more than good!

Next time you come over to Barcelona, if you are still so in love with tennis and the Godó is taking place... I'll get a couple of tickets for you... free! My husband has some friends there :D

Núria said...

VISCA NADAL!!!!!!!!!