I love tennis. It’s one of those sports where the whole family can enjoy themselves and thanks to the Provence 13 Open, it’s a possibility to see the sport up close for a good price.
I have been fortunate to receive, on a few occasions, VIP tickets to the Provence 13 Open, courtesy of Fedex. Even though the story and photos in this post are from one such event that I went to this past Tuesday, you definitely do not need VIP tickets to get up close and personal with the game when it’s at the Palais des Sports de Marseille (located right next to the Orange Velodrome).
Thanks to the small venue and lesser known and sought after tennis matches, the tickets are far more affordable and there is much less of a crowd for the afternoon games than one would find, say, at the French Open in Paris. Especially if you go at the beginning of the week. Another perk, the stadium is inside! This provides for all the fun without the sweltering heat and humidity that CAN happen on a rare February day or more likely, extreme cold with wind and rain. Either way, you can sit back and enjoy the games under the protection of a nice, indoor arena.
Just a side note. You can purchase VIP tickets if you wish. They are not reserved just for companies or special guests. If you do want VIP tickets, you have access to the restaurants, as well.
The Palais des Sports de Marseille
As in the USA, stadiums like this one are home to concerts, sporting events, conferences, etc. Once a year, usually the last week in February, the Provence 13 Tennis Open takes place here and it lasts for 8 days (Sunday – Sunday). I really like this arena because it’s just the right size to be able to enjoy yourself. There is room here for two courts and therefore, only two games are going on at any given time. This means you’re not going to be herded like cattle through a maze of people all trying to get to their seats for a dozen or so matches that are all happening at the same time.
The parking lot, inside the area of the Parc Chanot de Marseille, is located just down the street and during the Provence 13 Open, the cost is a flat rate of 6 Euros (this was the price for 2017). Parking is a little like Disneyland (but Provencal style) meaning you drive up, give your money to the guy standing there and then two or three workers will attempt to organize your maneuvering into the parking lot. It works out, except you have to dodge the other drivers who don’t like to follow the rules while at the same time avoid hitting all the road furniture some crazy architect thought would look good in the parking lot. Once you’ve parked, then its exit stage right and a 3 minute walk to the stadium, which is just across the street. What could be easier than that?
Open 13 Marseille
What’s really neat about the matches that you see here is the fact that the seating for each game is close to the court and there isn’t a huge amount of seats. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good size, just not Central Court Roland Garros size. This is more like the smallest side court at Roland Garros and might even be smaller than that!
Because of this, anywhere you sit in the level one seating is going to get you a great view. It’s super neat because you can be close enough to catch the wayward tennis balls that happen to go into the stands. Yes, this does happen as I am a witness to the lady who was sitting 3 boxes over from me who got slammed in the head with a 190km serve. Then, not 10 minutes later, it happened to her again! I’m so not kidding! Secondly, and most importantly, the seating gives you the chance to be super close to the players. It’s amazing! This makes it really enjoyable for kids, as well as adults.
The other thing I love about going to the matches here is that a lot of the players (but not all) are not too well-known or are low-ranking. This gives you the chance to see not only those players you have heard of, but also some up and coming players that you might not have heard of and maybe aren’t quite in the top of the top of the rankings. Now if you’re thinking, what’s the point, if I don’t even know these guys then why am I going?? Wrong! I’ve been to some matches that are as good as the top professionals. A lot of these guys are just new on the scene, but let me tell you, some of them are really, really good.
This past Tuesday, I watched a match between a 35 year old Frenchman named Julien Benneteau who is ranked 120th and he was going up against a 17 year old Canadian named Denis Shapovalov who is ranked 277th. Now, you might say, what sort of match is that?? A young, low ranking guy against an older, higher ranking guy…. Come on? Let me tell you, this was one of the most exciting matches I had seen in a while. The 17 year old kid was amazing to watch. He had moves and skill like you wouldn’t believe. If he keeps it up, he’ll be in the big leagues someday and guess what?? Because I saw him in the little arena when he was an unknown I’ll be able to tell the world that I witnessed him play way back with he was just a newbie! That’s so cool! It gives you the chance to keep your eye out for up and coming stars and follow them through their career.
Even more impressive than that 17 year old kid, I witness the older Frenchman keep him in line through the whole game and the Frenchman won! I’m telling you, the whole arena was glued to this match and there was so much energy between the players and the crowd. It was such an awesome game and I saw it right at court side, for less than a fraction of the cost of going to the top tennis events.
Pricing and Directions
If you and your family are tennis enthusiast, just want to experience an event up close and for a good price, or the weather is terrible one of the days you happened to be in Provence and need some inside family fun, then I really would encourage you to go.
You can purchase tickets online at the Provence 13 Open site. The site is in both English and French and the link I’ve provided is in English. This is, of course, for this year’s tournament, but the site is up each year ahead of time. You can also find out who will be playing, the rankings, plus photos and videos.
Directions to the Palais des Sport de Marseille, can be found here and can be accessed by train, car, subway and bus. No excuses on why you couldn’t get there!
Additional Fun at the Tennis Match
To have some additional fun at the match, root for the player who’s getting little to no cheers from the crowd. I love giving the underdog words of encouragement especially when their opponent seems to have the love of the crowd. I’d like to think it helps and gives them a lift to know someone is rooting for them. Just so you know I’ve done this at the bullfights, too. I’m the crazy girl rooting for the bull every time. But that is another story to tell…..
I would love to hear how your day at the Provence 13 Open went so please let me know by leaving me a comment below. What is it that you liked best about the matches you went to?