Experiencing the Ryder Cup – Ryder Cup 2018 (Le Golf National, Paris)

To be honest, I’d never been to a live Golf event before. My first time at the Golf and what an event to choose? It was quite a late decision to attend, long story short but a major airline who I forgot I had a fair amount of loyalty points with reminded me they were due to expire. The free ticket to the Ryder Cup stood out to me.

The Ryder Cup

Having not been to the golf before, I don’t have much to compare it to. I’ve watched the Ryder Cup over the years on TV and knew that as far as golf events go, it doesn’t get as passionate and exciting as the Ryder Cup. It was a great atmosphere and being from the UK, and therefore European, it was great to see a Europe win. It was fantastic to see how such an event brings people of all nationalities together and there was a lot of good-natured banter between sets of fans.

Walking around the grounds, you would hear constant chants of ‘USA! USA!’ and ‘Allez les Bleus!’, as well as cheering from all corners of the course. Something I’d also never considered before when watching on TV is how you may not actually be watching the play live as there is play taking place on many different holes at the same time. Therefore you’d often hear cheering from a hole in the distance, to then see on the big screen a couple of minutes later a good/bad putt/drive which would bring cheers all over again.

As for the course, hole 1 had a large grandstand with a great atmosphere for watching the players tee off. Another great spot was around holes 15-18 as you had a pretty good view of everything going on. I found myself being caught up with the crowd at one point on hole 17, as the crowd surged on to the fairway to the edge of the green as Sergio Garcia sunk his putt to win the match!

When following the play, I was naturally drawn to some of the names I’m more familiar with and it was good to see so much passion from players like Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood. It was disappointing however to see Tiger Woods play rather poorly, especially after winning the Tour Championship the week before. Even at a distance though, you could see he was struggling physically.

The ticket I had through the airline was for one of the hospitality lounges. To be honest, if you have to pay for this privilege, I wouldn’t bother. The only benefits I could see were no queues to use the toilets or when buying food/drink. Perhaps it would of been beneficial if it was raining and you wanted to watch the action on TV indoors? Luckily the weather was fantastic, in fact I was burnt both days of being there!

I did thoroughly enjoy my weekend at the Ryder Cup and would highly recommend going, just to experience the unique atmosphere and the chance to get up close to some of the world’s biggest golfing stars.

For those who were in the same position and not been to a live golf event before, I’ve listed my tips at the end of this post.

Location & Getting to Le Golf National

Lets face it, golf courses are never going to be in central city locations. So I was fully aware that it would take a while to get to Le Golf National, being approximately 21km south of central Paris. One of the reasons for choosing Generator Hostel was its proximity to Gare de Nord station. From Gare de Nord it was roughly a 30 minute journey on the RER B line to get to Massy – Palaiseau station (€3.65 per journey), from which there were free shuttles provided to Le Golf National. The free shuttle took about 25 minutes to get on site, helped by police blocking traffic to ensure a smoother journey. So in all, approximately an hour to get on site.

As for getting around Paris, the excellent and cheap Metro service (€1.90 per journey) has a number of different lines that will get you close to most of Paris’ main destinations.

Fancy going to the Ryder Cup/Le Golf National?

The Ryder Cup takes place every 2 years, alternating between Europe and the USA. The next chance to attend will be in 2020, at the Whistling Straits course in Wisconsin, USA. Or if you fancy waiting until the event is back in Europe, you’ll have to wait another 4 years where it will be taking place in Rome, Italy in 2024.

If you would like to visit Le Golf National itself, the venue hosts an annual European Tour golf tournament (the Open de France) and is due to host golf for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Accommodation in Paris

Having booked this trip quite late, I didn’t have much in the choice of accommodation. I thought my hostel days were behind me, but that’s exactly where I ended up – in a 10 bed dorm in the surprisingly pleasant Generator Hostel.

The Hostel was very modern and clean compared with hostels I’ve stayed in the past. The dorm itself was fairly spacious, with a shower and toilet in each room. There was a rooftop bar with great views of the city, looking towards the Sacré-Cœur and another basement bar. There were also bars and restaurants nearby, as well as a Franprix supermarket just over the road.

Generator was easy to access with one of Paris’ main train stations, Gare du Nord, being approximately a 15 minute walk away. The hostel was on a large roundabout with Colonel Fabien metro station on Line 2, being just the other side of the roundabout.

If you’re on a budget on your visit to Paris, I would highly recommend staying at the Generator Hostel. Read other traveller’s reviews and book your stay on TripAdvisor by clicking on the links above.

Food & Drink

I’m going to be honest, I was lazy. I utilised the Burger King and McDonalds on offer at Gare du Nord for convenience and speeds sake after a long couple of days. On site at Le Golf National I grimaced at the €9 for a Heneiken (not even a whole pint) and €10 for burger.

Getting to/from Paris

With my last minute decision to attend I needed to get to Paris ASAP so took a rather expensive very early morning Flybe flight from Southampton to Charles de Gaulle airport. The airport has easy access to central Paris via the RER B train network (€10.30).

Charles de Gaulle is the second largest airport in Europe and has flights to many international destinations. Thinking of going to Paris? Search & book your flights through Skyscanner here.

With flights and the Eurostar being highly expensive with so many people heading back to the UK on both the Sunday and Monday, my only choice was the coach. Luckily time was on my side and I had Monday spare to travel back. Booked through National Express, the Ouibus to London Victoria departs from Bercy Station. The coach itself was clean and comfortable and although the driver didn’t speak much English, the journey was quite straightforward. Leaving at 09:00, with a couple of breaks en route to Calais, the Calais-Dover ferry and then the journey from Dover to London Victoria, we arrived a little later than the scheduled 17:30 and were there for 18:20. If you’ve got spare time and are on a budget, the coach is a pretty good option.

Book your coach journey to/from Paris through National Express here.

Sightseeing in Paris

Paris obviously has its fair share of sights. Having less than 48 hours in Paris, of which most of the time was taking up by watching golf, I didn’t get much of a chance to sight see. I did however decide I couldn’t go to Paris and not visit 2 of its most famous sights, therefore with play starting later on Sunday I did take the metro from the hostel to The Champs-Elysées to see the Arc de Triomphe.

From The Champs-Elysées, it was only about a 25 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and from there I could catch the metro/train to the golf. Paris obviously has a number of other sights that I just didn’t have the time for, including the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sacré-Cœur or the nearby Palace of Versailles.

Tips for watching live Golf

With this being my first time at the golf, I personally found it quite difficult to follow everything that was going on with so much happening at any one time. I would recommend adopting one of these tactics to get the most out of your time at a golf event:

  • Stick to one hole – by sticking to one hole, I found that you’ll generally get a better view. Obviously the more popular holes such as the 1st or 18th tend to get very busy, so you’ll need to camp out early for the best spots. You can also stick to a particular spot that also has a vantage point of a big screen, so whilst you’re waiting for play on a hole you can keep up with the action elsewhere.
  • Follow a particular player/match – I found myself being drawn to some of the bigger names – Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy/Justin Rose/Ian Poulter. You can follow a particular player all the way from the 1st to the 18th, you just may however struggle to get a good vantage point at each hole as those camped out will already be in the best spots. You become rather adept at looking through the smallest gap between so many bodies to get just a glimpse of the action!
  • Freestyle it – mix it up and walk around the course, taking in different holes. The issue I found with this method though was that it was hard to get a rhythm of who was playing well and follow what was happening in a particular match.
  • Watch on a big screen – yes you could argue you can sit at home and watch the exact some footage, but you won’t be getting the same atmosphere. There were plenty of big screens on offer across the course to keep up with all the action.

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