Here at last – our week in Paris. This is a tournament both Patricia and I know and love well from a working point of view, but we are experiencing it differently this time around – not a jot of work in sight!. So, here’s my diary in the lead up to the matches.
Lightly packed and armed with our 40 Euro Ryder Cup travel passes we were deposited at Manchester airport by my husband Brian who balked at the £3 he had to pay for the pleasure of dropping us off. Ha! Wait till he finds out he’s to pay £4 to pick us up! We navigated having to drop Patricia’s luggage off at a special desk (because it was a soft bag) and managed security relatively unscathed. My sister has made a lifelong study of packing….. and packing lightly, all centred, of course, round the never-ending search for The Perfect Bag. The result this week was a check-in bag weighing 8 kilos and hand luggage spilling out of a large looking shopping bag – no travel wheels in sight, of course. Ah well, her gym sessions will come in handy and the search for TPB continues.!
An easy flight was followed by a train from Charles de Gaulle airport to Saint Michel-Notre Dame and then a metro from there to Boulogne-Billancourt, topped off with a two-minute walk to our hotel. The travel pass worked perfectly – apparently it will effortlessly admit us on to any train, tram or bus in the Paris region for a week. So far so good. Our hotel room is bijou (for that read very small) in the extreme, but what we expected. The beds are comfy and we are within walking distance of lots of restaurants, all non-touristy. Result! As long as one of us is on her bed the other can move round the room, no problem.
Our practice day dawns and we are ready for the fray. Rucksack – check; ticket – check; PGA card with which to gain access to the PGA Members’s pavilion – check; extra coat in case of rain – check; money – check; binoculars – check; periscope – check; money – check; and travel pass – check. Accustomed as we both are to whooshing in and out of Ryder Cups and majors on media transport this is going to be a little different. First, four stops on the metro and before we even get started we meet our first glitch. The all-singing, all-dancing, let-you-on-any-transport-anywhere-within-Paris travel pass denies us entry to the metro! Merde, as they say over here. However, a very efficient French ticket officer seemed not at all perturbed and electronically opened the gates for us. Well, time will tell if we encounter any more difficulties. On to the correct train which forty minutes later delivered us on to a shuttle bus through an avenue of smiling and heartfelt “Bonjours” enunciated by impeccably dressed Ryder Cup information people. Sigh – only the French can make standard fleeces and waterproofs look chic. Years of practising that particular dark art, I suppose.
And so, after a bit of a route march we arrive at the course, Le Golf National. We have both been here in different lives. I was here as the Welsh National coach umpty-ump years ago and even further back Patricia was here covering French Opens and, way back in the mists of time, a World Amateur Team Championship. We reacquainted ourselves with the course, watched the Europeans practise, cast our eye over Tiger and had a couple of delightful meetings with pals from yesteryear.I met up with former colleagues on the Ladies’ European Tour, Barb Helbig, Sally Prosser and Tracey Craik, who’d just bought her Dad, Derek, a pair of Ryder Cup adorned boxers. We had managed to resist the temptations of the oh-so-corporate merchandise tent and were returning back to our little hotel near Roland Garros with the exact same checklist you saw above, minus a few euros, of course.
The next two days are to be non-golfy, filled with the sights and sounds of Paris – and, worryingly, they are totally under Patricia’s control. A little concerning as the last words she has just uttered to me are, ” Ooh, I see we can get 20% off nude massages tomorrow.” Watch this space!
Our second full day in Paris and the first of two non-golf days. As I had booked the flights, organised our Ryder Cup tickets, sorted the hotel and worked out our travel routes from airport to hotel ,and then from the hotel to the course, I thought it only fair to tell Patricia she was in charge of the next two days and our Paris sightseeing and shopping. I had one request – namely, not to walk too much, as I am recovering from what I’m pretty sure is a broken toe. I walked into the end of the bed about five weeks ago and have suffered ever since. “No problem,” she obligingly said, secure in the knowledge we are proud possessors of these wonderful travel passes. So, how come we spent the whole morning walking in the Bois de Boulogne having first visited Roland Garros stadium? Coffee and water stops were, indeed, aplenty and just when I was wondering where we were going to park ourselves for a lovely long delicious lunch the idyllic Chalet des Iles hove into view. We had to take a little boat across to it and had a delightful meal outside on the terrace in the sunshine.
Later we made our way down the Avenue Foch to the Arc de Triomphe and from there to the world famous Galeries Lafayette where a teensy weensy bit of shopping was off-set by a cooling G&T on the Terrace Bar looking across the rooftops of Paris to the Eiffel Tower.
Only one small drawback to Patricia’s first day in charge – the small matter of OVER 21,500 steps!!! Ouch!
Bearing in mind the walking we expect to do over the three days of the matches I threatened Patricia with death if I was forced to walk too far today. The result was a lovely relaxing day spent touring the great Parisian sights from the top of a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. Mind you, there wasn’t a great deal of hopping off, but we did spend a lovely couple of hours at Le Petit Palais at the stunning Jakuchu exhibition of painting on silks. The vibrancy of the mid-18th century Japanese scrolls was breathtaking and well worth the visit.
We had been remarking to each other that there wasn’t a great deal of evidence to suggest the Ryder Cup was even taking place in Paris….and then our bus turned in to the Champs Elysees. The entire boulevard was adorned on either side with banners of Justin Rose, Rory and Poulter for the Europeans and for the Americans there were huge pictures of Dustin Johnson. It certainly set my pulse racing and, save for a couple of glasses of vin rouge this evening, our own preparations are now pretty well complete. The nude massage with 20% off seems, thankfully, to be forgotten, and the travel pass is behaving impeccably. With a mere 8000 steps clocked up today all that now remains is to perfect our rallying cry, “Allez les Bleus”.