Choosing A Clay-Court Destination
The clay-court season is fast approaching, and now is the optimal time to book your springtime tennis escape. We offer travel packages to the Monte-Carlo Masters, Madrid Open, Italian Open, and—of course—the French Open. Each destination has its perks, so think about what you want from your vacation when you choose which travel package to book. Having trouble deciding? Read on for our tips!
Choosing a destination based on the tennis
If you’re on our website, it’s likely that your main travel motivator for these events is world-class tennis. Perhaps you’ve singled out clay-court tournaments for their often-lengthy matches; maybe you just want to see Nadal. The truth is that the level of tennis in each of the following Masters 1000 and Grand Slam level events is top notch. Each destination will treat you to top-level tennis, longer points compared to other surfaces, and intense battles between the best in men’s tennis.
Moreover, we’ll match our services to that high level of tennis. Each of our tour packages includes a stay at a luxurious hotel, a private city tour, a commemorative gift, and the services of our friendly, experienced hosts. Some packages include transportation, a welcome dinner with fellow tennis enthusiasts, or a tennis clinic on red clay. If you feel like adding one of these aspects or perhaps a day trip on to your tour, fret not—all of our travel packages are customizable.
In short, regardless of the destination you decide on, you’re in for some awesome tennis. We’ve compiled some tips below to help you decide which trip is best for you.
Glitz and glam in our favorite city-state
The Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament serves up a unique tennis vacation experience in the elegant principality of Monaco. Situated in the middle of the glitz and the glam of the seaside city, watch the best tennis players in the world battle it out on the red clay while experiencing the parade of yachts, Ferraris, and movie stars. Our packages start off uniquely—that is, with a helicopter transfer from Nice airport to Monte-Carlo. Zipping through the skies over the French Riviera is an unforgettable experience, and for some it’s reason enough to choose the principality.
Monte-Carlo Country Club is stunning. There’s simply no other way to put it. The stadium looks out over the Mediterranean’s sparkling blue waters in one direction, and up at the cliffs of the French Riviera in the other. There’s not a bad seat at this intimate venue. There are many stairs to contend with on the grounds, so make note if you have any accessibility restraints.
If you’re a gearhead
Monaco is definitely a city unlike any other on the planet. If you or your travel partner’s passion is cars, Monaco is hands-down the choice to make. While a visit to The Cars Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco is certainly suggested, you need only to step outside to see (and hear) exotic and rare cars all around you. Monte-Carlo is also known for its Formula 1 city track, which you can walk around on your days off tennis.
Quaint villages and seaside walks
If you’re more inclined to admire historical and cultural sights, Monaco is a good choice. The Casino Monte-Carlo is iconic, and the Prince’s Palace is open seasonally if you want to view lavish state apartments. Most importantly, our city tour takes you to Èze, a quaint hillside village not too far away. However, if you’re looking for your dose of history, you may want to keep reading; Rome and Paris may be more your style.
El foro—the heart of Spain
The Madrid Open makes its home in the heart of the clay-court swing in early May—after Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, but before Rome and Roland Garros—in the capital of one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Our staff won’t be on site in Madrid for this tour (and as such, this is the only tour on our list without an included welcome dinner), but we’ll be here for you every step of the way on the phone, online, and through our partners on site. The Madrid Open is a good choice if you prefer a bit more spontaneity.
Photo: Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA
Our guests watch tennis from courtside seats on Manolo Santana Courts in the Caja Magica, where the tournament has famously explored blue-colored clay and employed models as ballpersons. These days the clay is red, but the Madrid Open remains one of the premier events in the world. With seats within six rows of the court on the baseline and sideline, the Madrid Open experience doesn’t get much better.
Culture and gastronomy
Spain is a land filled with jamón ibérico and rich paella, a place where red wine and locally sourced olive oil flow like water. Visiting the Madrid Open is a perfect opportunity to enjoy world-class tennis, visit incredible museums, and take in the best of Spanish culture and cuisine. If tapas are your thing, Madrid is a great place to be. But if you prefer pizza and pasta… Read on.
Pizza, pasta, panna cotta, ptennis.
If Italian food is your favorite cuisine or Italian reds are your weakness, you’re definitely not alone in this world. Food and wine are both great reasons to choose Rome as your destination, but there are plenty of other factors to consider as well.
The Internazionale BNL d’Italia, which we prefer to simply call the Italian Open, perfectly reflects its host city with its mix of history and modernity. Lush, park-like grounds give way to the Italian Open‘s famous third court, Nicola Pietrangeli Stadium, which is built of marble and sunken into the red, Roman earth. Ringed by grand, white-marble statues of Roman gods, and connected by Fascist-era underground tunnels through the rest of the site, Pietrangeli is a court where dust swirls and the crowd gets rowdy. Inside the sleek Campo Centrale, the crowds still get rowdy, but the wind isn’t an issue.
The Eternal City
The city of Rome truly doesn’t require an introduction. We’ve all learned of the grand history of Italy’s capital city, and our travel packages include a great refresher in the form of a city tour. Outside the grounds, there is as much to enjoy as within; the world-class food, wine, and historical sites that make this city so famous, also make it hard to leave.
El doceavo? Who knows…
Roland Garros, also known as the French Open, is the largest clay-court tournament of the year and one of the four grand slams. Because of the slow-playing surface and long, patient points, it is considered to be the most physically demanding major tournament. Will the king of clay retain his thrown once more or will a new champion control the clay this year? Will you be there to see it all go down?
Roland Garros is a national celebration in France. Métro stations are decorated for the occasion, the Eiffel Tower hosts a giant tennis ball in its center, and you can even find tennis-ball pastries in bakeries. As for the grounds, the French Open is the smallest of the grand slams in terms of size.
The Parisian crowds, dotted with iconic Panama hats, are notable for their vocal and partisan appreciation. You may find them cheering on their favorite athletes on orange-striped beach chairs drinking Monaco—a famous summer cocktail of light beer, lemonade, and grenadine syrup—under the sunny sky of Paris in late May. Plus, you have the opportunity to play on red-clay yourself at the famous Tennis Club de Paris.
Touring France and its museums
Paris is a huge city with many sights to explore—if art galleries and museums are your favorite place to be, the city of light will treat you well. It’s easy to get around the city thanks to the extensive rapid transit system, the Paris Métro. The Métropolitain serves 303 stations, mostly underground. It’s a famous symbol of the city.
Our travel packages include a guided city tour of Paris, but you also have the option to book day trips to amazing sights nearby through Grand Slam Tennis Tours. We offer a tour to see beautiful Renaissance estates in the Loire Valley, as well as a tour to Versailles and Claude Monet’s home in Giverny. A private driver and guide will ensure your day is a complete success.
The French capital is a place to discover the feeling of dépaysement, a non-translatable French expression to describe a sweet disorientation, or an unsteady yet pleasant feeling of being far away from your home country.
Staff tip: don’t miss the mousse
Chez Janou is a lovely, cozy little restaurant that serves authentic French food and wine. Their main dishes are delicious, but save room for dessert—an all-you-can-eat, head-sized pot of chocolate mousse is only about 10€.