Bercy Arena

Home of the Paris Bercy Masters since 1986, the POPB (Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy) can be can be easily recognized by its pyramidal shape and its walls covered with sloping lawn.

Opened in 1984, it was conceived as a modifiable sports arena capable of accomodating between 3500 and 17000 spectators for over 24 sports from basketball to boxing to tennis. The POPB also hosts some cultural events like concerts and musicals.

That’s what the POPB looked like last year:

POPB

POPB

POPB

And that’s what it looked like today, a vast construction site surrounded by palisades:

POPB

Nice to see you again, Marat!

POPB

POPB

The POPB is indeed undergoing a major modernisation project, with a budget of over 110 million euros. The plan is to make the new POPB (called Bercy Arena) a world class venue with increased seating capacity, VIP areas, box seats as well as new bars and restaurants.

POPB

POPB

The skatepark and the POPB in the background:

POPB

POPB

I’m pretty sure the player exiting the stadium was Milos Raonic, what do you think?

POPB

Some renderings of the future Bercy Arena:

POPB

Bercy Arena

Bercy Arena

The building will keep its pyramidal form and its outside grass areas, but the stairs will be removed to create a main entrance covering nearly 2,500 m² on street level, and which will house bars, restaurants and partner areas open seven days a week.
The sloped esplanade will be connected to the Parc de Bercy via a walkway which will join the Bercy Arena to the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand.

Stay tuned for more Bercy 2014 coverage on Tennis Buzz!

Photo credit: Tennis Buzz, except for 3 renderings (source: Skyscrapercity)

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Last Saturday I took a guided tour of Stade Pierre Mauroy, that will host the Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland from 21 to 23 November.
To be honest, I’ve been quite disappointed by the guided tour: there’s not much to visit, it lasts around 40 minutes only and explanations by the guide were quite poor. But at least it gave me the opportunity to shoot pictures of the media-only and players-only areas. The tour costs €12.

Samedi dernier j’ai visité le Stade Pierre Mauroy, qui va accueillir la finale de la Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse du 21 au 23 novembre. La visite était plutôt décevante: elle dure à peine 40 minutes, il n’y a pas grand chose à voir et les explications du guide étaient insuffisantes. Point positif: la visite (12€, plus d’infos ici) m’a permis d’accéder aux zones habituellement réservées aux joueurs et journalistes.

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Stade Pierre Mauroy

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Lille Grand Place

From 21 to 23 November France and Switzerland will contest the 2014 Davis Cup Final at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in the Lille suburb of Villeneuve d’Ascq. If you’re planning to attend and wonder how to get tickets, how to get to the stadium or what to do in Lille, this article is for you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any question, and I hope you’ll enjoy your time in Lille!

Le Stade Pierre Mauroy à Villeneuve d’Ascq dans la banlieue de Lille va accueillir la finale de la Coupe Davis, du 21 au 23 novembre. Si vous avez l’intention d’y assister, ce guide est fait pour vous. Si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas, laissez un commentaire. Bon séjour Lille!

Welcome to Lille

Getting there

Train

Lille has two train stations: Gare Lille Europe and Gare Lille Flandres, situated 400 meters from each other and only a 10 min walk from the city centre.
Eurostar and TGV link Lille with Brussels (35min), Paris (1h) and London (1h40). If you come from Switzerland, take a high speed TGV Lyria from Geneva (3h), Lausanne (3h40), Basel (3h) or Zurich (4h) to Paris Gare de Lyon, then take a TGV from Paris Gare du Nord to Lille (1h). When you book your tickets, remember to allow about 60 minutes to cross Paris. The easiest way to go from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord is to take the RER D direction Creil (follow the signs). If you have time for a coffee, a beer or a lunch, try the beautiful Train Bleu restaurant at Gare de Lyon.

Lille possède deux gares séparées de seulement 400 mètres et à quelques minutes à pied du centre-ville: la Gare Lille-Europe et la Gare Lille-Flandres. Lille est facilement accessible en train: Eurostar et TGV relient Lille à Bruxelles (35 minutes), Paris (1h) et Londres (1h40).
Si vous venez de Suisse, prenez un TGV Lyria pour Paris Gare de Lyon à partir de Genève (durée: 3h), Lausanne (3h40), Bâle (3h) ou Zurich (4h). Quand vous réservez vos billets, n’oubliez pas de prévoir environ 1h pour changer de gare. Pour aller de Gare de Lyon à Gare du Nord, prenez le RER direction Creil (seulement 2 arrêts). Si vous avez le temps de prendre un café, une bière ou de déjeuner, essayez le célèbre restaurant le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon.

Gare Lille Europe:

Gare Lille Europe

Plane

Lowcost airline company easyjet links Geneva to Lille-Lesquin International 4 days a week. A direct coach connects to central Lille (stops outside Euralille, next to Gare Lille Europe) in 20 minutes, and runs once an hour costing €8 (return ticket is €10).

easyJet propose 4 vols directs Genève-Lille par semaine. L’aéroport de Lille est situé à Lesquin, à 20 minutes en navette du centre-ville de Lille (aller: 8€, aller-retour: 10€).

Getting around

Public transport

Lille’s transit system features two tram metro lines (lines 1 and 2), two tramways (Roubaix and Tourcoing) and a network of buses that connect Lille centre with the suburbs. In the city centre, metros run every two to four minutes from 5.30am until 12.30 am.
A single journey ticket costs €1.50. A 1-day unlimited pass (Pass journée) allows unlimited travel on the bus-underground-tram network for 24 hours and costs only €4. 2-days and 3-days pass cost respectively €7.50 and €9.50.

Lille dispose de deux lignes de métro (lignes 1 et 2), deux tramways (Roubaix et Tourcoing) et d’un système de bus assez dense. Dans le centre, les métros circulent toutes les 2 à 4 minutes de 5h30 à minuit 30 environ.
Un ticket simple coûte 1.50€. Le Pass journée permet de voyager en illimité sur le réseau métro-bus-tramway pour seulement 4€. Les Pass 2 et 3 journées coûtent respectivement 7.50€ et 9.50€.

V’lille

Lille also has its own public bicycle sharing system called the V’lille. To hire a bike, new users must register by providing a security deposit of 200 euros (which is not debited), either online or at any of the credit card enabled bike stations. Once registered, simply pick up a bike at any hire location then return it to any bike station around the city. The first 30 minutes of each rental is free.

V’Lille est le système de location de vélos en libre-service. Pour louer un vélo, les nouveaux utilisateurs doivent s’enregistrer en ligne ou à l’une des stations V’lille et verser une caution de 200€. Une fois enregistré, prenez un vélo à l’une des stations et redéposez-le à n’importe quelle station du réseau. La 1ère demie heure de location est gratuite.

V'lille station

Must see

If you think Lille is a grey and unattractive city, you might be surprised by its impressive architecture, his charming old quarter and its plethora of restaurants.

Si vous pensez que Lille est une ville grise et sans attrait, vous serez surpris par son architecture, son charmant quartier médiéval et sa multitude de restaurants.

Grand Place

La Grand Place, officially called Place du Général de Gaulle was originally the wheat market. Today, the Grand Place is the city’s heart and contains some of Lille’s finest buildings. At the centre of the square, the statue known as la Déesse (the Goddess) celebrates Lille’s victorious resistance against the Austrians in 1792.
La Vieille Bourse is the gem of the Grand Place. Probably the city’s most beautiful monument, it is made up of 24 identical houses surrounding a cloister. Inside, it houses a little booksellers’ market and sometimes chess players.

La Grand Place (officiellement appelée place du Général de Gaulle) était à l’origine un marché au blé. Aujourd’hui elle est devenue le véritable coeur de la ville. La statue de la Déesse au centre de la place commémore la défense héroïque de la ville face aux Autrichiens en 1792.
La Vieille Bourse est le joyau de la Grand Place. Probablement le plus beau bâtiment de Lille, elle est composée de 24 maisons identiques qui entourent un cloître. La cour abrite des bouquinistes et aussi parfois des joueurs d’échecs.

La Vieille Bourse:

La Vieille Bourse

La Grand Place:

Grand Place

Place du Théâtre

East of the Vieille Bourse, place du Théatre is dominated by the Louis XVI-style Opéra and the neo-Flemish Chambre de commerce. Both were built in the early 20th century.
Opposite the chamber of commerce is the Rang du Beauregard, an uniform alignment of three-storey houses, typical of 17th century architecture in Lille.

Sur la Place du Théâtre, le beffroi néo-flamand de la chambre de commerce côtoie l’Opéra de style Louis XVI. Les deux bâtiments ont été construits au début du 20ème siècle.
En face, le Rang du Beauregard est un alignement uniforme de maisons sur trois niveaux représentatif de l’architecture lilloise du XVIIe siècle.

Left, the chamber of commerce. Right, l’Opéra. A gauche la chambre de commerce. A droite, l’Opéra:

Chambre de commerce et Opéra

Rang du Beauregard:

Rang du Beauregard

Vieux Lille

Vieux Lille, which means Old Lille, is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, filled with ancient buildings, cafes, restaurants and designer shops.
Vieux Lille’s main sight is l’Hospice Comtesse, rue de la Monnaie. This former hospital run by nuns was founded by Joan of Constantinople, Countess of Flanders in the 13th century. It is now a museum exhibiting the interior of a religious 17th century home in Flanders.
Another must-see is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille, a cathedral you will either love or hate. It started life in 1854 but was not completed until 1999.

Le Vieux Lille est un labyrinthe de rues pavées, bordées de bâtiments anciens, cafés, restaurants et boutiques de designers. Le monument principal du Vieux Lille est l’hospice Comtesse, un ancien hôpital tenu par des nonnes et foundé par Jeanne, comtesse de Flandres au XIIIè siècle. Aujourd’hui c’est un musée, évoquant l’intérieur d’une maison religieuse flamande du XVIIe siècle.
Autre incontournable du Vieux Lille: la Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille, dont la construction a commencé en 1854 et s’est terminée en 1999.

Hospice Comtesse:

Hospice Comtesse

Palais des Beaux Arts

The Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, the largest French museum outside of Paris, is a short walk from the Grand Place. The collection include works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin among many more.

Le Palais des Beaux-Arts, le plus grand musée des beaux-arts de province, est situé à quelques minutes à pieds de la Grand Place. Sa collection contient ente autres des oeuvres de Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya et Rodin.

Palais des Beaux Arts

Eat

If you want to try some traditional flemish cuisine, avoid restaurants on Place Rihour and Grand Place, and head to Vieux Lille, especially rue de Gand, a street lined with estaminets and restaurants.
Chez la Vieille and its sister restaurant Au Vieux de la Vieille (place aux Oignons) serve local comfort food like carbonnade flamande, waterzooi or pot’je vleesch.

Si vous voulez manger de la cuisine traditionnelle flamande, évitez les restaurants de la Place Rihour et de la Grand Place, et dirigez vous vers le Vieux Lille, en particulier la rue de Gand, bordée d’estaminets et de restaurants. Essayez Chez la Vieille ou son restaurent jumeau Au Vieux de la Vieille (place aux Oignons), qui servent des plats traditionnels comme la carbonnade flamande, le waterzooi ou le pot’je vleesch.

Enjoy more pictures from Lille (click to enlarge):

Davis Cup final:

How to get tickets

Tickets will go on sale from October 10th for members of the FFT (only on fft.fr), and from October 17th for general public (on fft.fr but also at Auchan, Cora, Cultura, Leclerc, FNAC, Carrefour). Tickets will be sold at a maximum of four per day per person, so a maximum of twelve tickets per person. Ticket prices are €30, 50, 75, 100 and 220. Watch this infographic for prices and seatings.

Les billets seront en vente à partir du 10 octobre pour les licenciés de la FFT (site fft.fr) et du 17 octobre pour le grand public (site fft.fr, Auchan, Cora, Cultura, Leclerc, FNAC, Carrefour). Chaque spectateur pourra acheter 4 places par jour, soit 12 places maximum. Il y a 5 catégories de prix: 30, 50, 75, 100 et 200€. Plus d’infos sur cette infographie

The stadium

The stadium is a multifunctional arena that can be converted from a football and rugby stadium to a large concert venue or smaller indoors sports or concert arena. It is equipped with a retractable roof, which can be opened or closed in about 20 minutes. The stadium was completed in 2012 and is usually the home of the LOSC football team. It will be one of the venues of the EuroBasket 2015, UEFA Euro 2016 and 2017 World Men’s Handball Championship.
And if you wonder who Pierre Mauroy was, he was Lille Mayor for 28 years and also François Mitterrand first Prime Minister.

Le stade Pierre Mauroy est une aréna multifonction, qui combine en un même lieu stade de football ou de rugby, salle de concert ou palais des sports. Il est équipé d’un toit amovible qui peut s’ouvrir ou se fermer en 20 minutes seulement. Le stade a été achevé en 2012, et depuis l’équipe du LOSC y joue ses matches à domicile.
Le stade est l’un de ceux qui accueilleront l’EuroBasket 2015, l’UEFA Euro 2016 et le championnat du monde masculin de handball en 2017.
Si vous vous demandez qui est Pierre Mauroy, il fut Maire de Lille pendant 28 ans, et Premier Ministre du premier gouvernement Mitterrand de 1981 à 1984.

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Getting there

The stadium is in the suburb of Villeneuve D’Ascq and is easily accessible by the metro – just take line 1 to the Hotel de Ville or 4 Cantons Grand Stade station – and then it is about a 10 minute walk, which is well signposted.

Le stade, situé à Villeneuve d’Ascq est facilement accessible en métro: prenez la ligne 1 jusqu’à l’arrêt Hotel de Ville ou 4 Cantons Grand Stade, suivez ensuite les indications, le stade est à environ 10 minutes de marche.

Any question? Feel free to ask, I’ll try my best to answer!

Si vous avez des questions, laissez un commentaire, je ferai de mon mieux pour répondre!

Roland Garros Court 1

Red clay-courts are made of 5 layers:
1- red brick dust: 1-2 mm
2- crushed white limestone: 6-7 cm
3- clinker (coal residue): 7-8 cm
4- crushed gravel: at least 30 cm
5- drain

Composition of clay

The red brick dust gives the ball extra grip when it hits the deck, making the surface characteristically slow.
But clay courts’ speed depends greatly on weather conditions: when there’s a bit of rain, the surface is moist, the balls pick up water, become heavy and slow down even more. But when it’s hot and sunny, the court is dusty, and the ball zip through like a harder surface.

Clay court maintenance demands the greatest care and constant humidity. Too much water risks drowning the clay, making it unplayable from a few hours to several days. That’s why the courts are sprinkled manually and have to be protected from rain.

Every year in September, 50 European countries take part in the European Heritage Days, a programme that offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public. For the first time, yesterday, the French Federation of tennis opened up the Roland Garros stadium and museum free to the public as part of Heritage Days, and of course, I was there.

Waiting to enter the museum, you could still see the Davis Cup semifinals poster and the French and Czech flags atop Court Philippe Chatrier.

Roland Garros

Tennis museum

The permanent exhibition showcases trophies, players memorabilia, a few videos as well as some infos about tennis history and the future Roland Garros stadium expansion.
You might be disappointed if you’ve visited the Wimbledon museum, Roland Garros museum is quite small, with less content and interactivity.

Below, the trophies presented each year to the winner of the men’s singles (Coupe des Mousquetaires) and women’s singles (Coupe Suzanne Lenglen):

Roland Garros trophies

Replica of the 1991 Davis Cup captured by Henri Leconte and Guy Forget over the dream team of Sampras, Agassi and Flach-Seguso:

1991 Davis Cup replica
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Roland Garros 2014

I was in Paris nearby the Roland Garros stadium yesterday, so I took a few pictures of the empty stadium.

Court Philippe Chatrier:

Court Philippe Chatrier

Court Suzanne Lenglen:

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

Court 12:

Court 12

Court Suzanne Lenglen:

Court Suzanne Lenglen

Court Suzanne Lenglen

Roland Garros stadium

Roland Garros stadium

The tournament starts on May 25, and some tickets are still available on Viagogo, the official Roland Garros exchange ticket website, that allows you to buy and resell tickets until the event date.

Who are your favorites for the title?

Who will win Roland Garros 2014?

  • Rafael Nadal (40%, 108 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (29%, 79 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (21%, 57 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (4%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (1%, 3 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
  • John Isner (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 269

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Who will win Roland Garros 2014?

  • Serena Williams (33%, 40 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (30%, 37 Votes)
  • Li Na (11%, 13 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (10%, 12 Votes)
  • Other (9%, 11 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dominika Cibulkova (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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Stay tuned for more French Open coverage on Tennis Buzz.