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  The Zen of Tennis, by Nancy Koran


Tennis is phenomenally popular in France, and courts are everywhere. Try for a typical terre battue (clay court) if you can. Tourists can usually get a temporary membership at the local club for a nominal fee. (See the list below to locate courts near your vacation destination.) The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is dedicated to the organization and development of programs which promote tennis in France.

Spectators of world-class, Grand Slam tennis events throng to the famous Roland-Garros facility in Paris during May and June each year to witness the French Open. A relatively new feature of the complex is its tennis museum, or Tenniseum, and the availability of guided tours year-round.

Many tennis players may be unaware of the game's fascinating history. While the version that is most popular today originated from the rules of lawn tennis standardized in Great Britain during the later 19th century, the origins of the game can be traced back to 13th-century France. The British form of lawn tennis was actually an adaptation of "Real" or "Royal" tennis, a game traditionally played in an indoor facility resembling a oversized handball court. In fact, the precursor of "Royal" tennis was called Jeu de Paume (game of the palm) because it was originally played with the hands, before the invention of racquets. (See "The History of Tennis" to learn many more interesting aspects of the game, its terms, and its colorful past.)


Jeu de Paume
Old engraving of a
Jeu de Paume court



© François Frapar
All Rights Reserved.



© François Frapar
All Rights Reserved.


Top 20 Places to Play Tennis in France

(arranged alphabetically by town)

Name: Aviron Bayonnais — Bayonne Tennis Club (web site) (videos)
Address: 2, avenue André Grimard, 64100 Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantique department, Aquitaine). map
Phone: ; Fax:
Courts: 10 clay courts.
Fee: €16/10 per hour (adults/<18 years). 10- and 20-hour passes available.
Notes: Founded in 1912. Unique location beside the historic ramparts of Bayonne.

Name: Tennis Club de Beaulieu (web site)
Address: 4, rue Alexandre 1er de Yougoslavie, 06310 Beaulieu-sur-Mer (Alpes-Maritimes department, Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur). map
Courts: 8 clay courts.
Fee: €25-40 per hour (singles/doubles). Lessons: €140 per hour.

Name: Tennis Bergerac Millet Barrage - TBMB (web site)
Contact: Marie-Paule Demarais
Address: Chemin de la Fondaurade, 24100 Bergerac (Dordogne department, Aquitaine). map
E-mail: (or) (or)
Courts: 3 outdoor and 2 indoor clay courts, plus 5 hard courts.
Fee: €25-30 per hour (singles/doubles).

Name: Red Star Club de Champigny (web site)
Contact: Frédéric Loriedo
Address: Complexe Sportif Nelson Mandela - 134, rue de Bernaü, 94500 Champigny-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne department, Ile-de-France). map
E-mail: (or)
Courts: 2 clay courts, 4 hard courts.

Name: Tennis des 4 Saisons (web site)
Contact: Gilles Ferrand
Address: 11, chemin des Pins, 69570 Dardilly (Rhône department, Rhône-Alpes). map
Courts: 20 outdoor courts, plus indoor courts, solarium, swimming pool, restaurant, location for group rentals.
Fee: Court rental: €12-15 per hour (outdoor/indoor). Instruction: €36 to €50 (1-2 persons).

Name: Tennis Club de Beauvallon (no web site)
Contact: Arnaud Deleval
Address: Résidence Beauvallon, RD 559, 83310 Grimaud (Var department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur).
Courts: 5 clay courts, 1 hard-surface court.
Sp. Feature: Partly owned by Stefan Edberg, the club is accompanied by a 70-room hotel and 18-hole golf course.

Name: Garden Tennis Club (web site)
Contact: Patrice Hanus
Address: Avenue Marcel Prévost, 40150 Hossegor.
Courts: 4 clay court and 2 hard courts.
Fees: 8 € to 12 € per hour; 106 € for 10-hour rental.
Special Features: Special tennis weeks for foreign visitors.

Name: Le Baule Tennis Club (web site)
Contact: Xavier de la Fouchardiere
Address: 45, avenue de l'Etoile, 44500 Le Baule.
Courts: 3 sites in one club, with a total of 22 red-clay courts, 11 courts with Greenset covers, 2 18-hole mini golf courses and 1 squash court.
Fee: 3 days: 40 €, 1 week: 80 €, 2 weeks: 135 €, 3 weeks: 165 €, 4 weeks: 185 €; Hourly rate during July-August: 15 € on green lawn, 20 € on clay court, 20 € on indoor court; outside of July-August: 13 € on green lawn, 15 € on clay court, 20 € on indoor court.

Name: Tennis Country Club Barrière (web site)
Contact: Daniel Laurent
Address: 115, avenue de Lattre de Tassigny, 44500 Le Baule.
Courts: 24 covered clay courts, 5 asphalt courts and 3 training walls in addition to 6 indoor courts with inflatable domes.
Fee: From 13 € to 21 € per hour depending on the type of court and season. Special "Week" subscription, valid from Monday to Friday, except in school holidays: 195 €.
Special Features: One of France's finest clubs and the world's oldest clay-court club, it offers a daily tennis program, including individual lessons, group training, friendly games and level-based matches. It hosts a major world tournament, the "Derby Cadets". Tennis school for children.

Name: Hôtel Tennis International (web site)
Address: Tennis Village - 3, avenue de la Vigne, 34300 Le Cape D'Agde.
Courts: 21 tennis courts.
Fee: Free court facilities with hotel rentals. Room prices range from 50 -100€ per night depending on seasons and room sizes.

Name: Golf de Moliets (web site)
Address: Club-House du Golf, 40660 Moliets.
Courts: 16 courts, 2 of which are covered.
Fee: 10 €.

Name: Nice Lawn Tennis Club (web site)
Contact: Bernard Leydet
Address: Parc Impérial - 5, avenue Suzanne Lenglen, 06000 Nice.
Courts: 19 courts: 13 clay courts and 6 hard-surfaced courts.
Fee: $17 per hour. Lessons: $36 per hour.
Special Features: The oldest tennis club in Nice, with one of the best clay courts in France. Gym, sauna, boutique and air-conditioned bridge room available.

Name: CASG Paris, Stade Jean Bouin (web site)
Contact: Antoinette Smol
Address: 26, avenue du Général Sarrail, 75016 Paris.
Courts: 21 courts in summer (19 red-clay court), 12 covered courts in winter.

Name: Centre Sportif Suzanne Lenglen
Address: 2, rue Louis Armand, 75015 Paris.
Courts: 14 courts.

Name: Tennis La Faluère
Address: Route de la Pyramide, 75012 Paris
Courts: 21 courts.

Name: Tennis Club de Paris
Contact: Michel Leclercq
Address: 15, avenue Félix d'Herelle, 75016 Paris.
Courts: 9 clay courts, 11 hard courts.

Name: Tennis Club de Saint-Tropez (web site)
Address: Route des Plages, 83350 Ramatuelle.
Courts: 8 lit courts (of which 4 are clay courts).
Special Features: Tournaments, training school, restaurant and nearby hotels.

Name: Monte-Carlo Country Club (web site)
Contact: Francis Truchi
Address: 155, avenue Princesse Grace, 06190 Roquebrune Cap Martin.
Courts: 23 clay courts including 2 indoor courts and 5 provided with lights. There are also 2 hard courts. All the courts are practicable all year and are facing the Mediterranean.
Special Features: Most luxurious country club in the region. Tennis instructions available for players of all levels. All-rounded country club facilities, e.g. gym, sauna, jacuzzi, swimming pools, solarium, squash court, golf course, restaurants, English pubs with snookers and billiards.

Name: Tennis Club de la Vanade
Address: Route de Grasse - RD 2085, 06270 Villeneuve-Loubee.
Courts: 55 courts.
Fee: $7 per day on Quick, $19 per day on clay. Lessons (on Quick only): $29 per hour.
Special Features: A multisport complex with tennis courts, rugby and hockey facilities, among others.

Name: Tennis Club de Lyon (web site)
Contact: Yves Boulez
Address: 3, boulevard du 11 Novembre, 69100 Villeurbanne.
Courts: 25 courts: 15 outdoors, 10 indoors.
Fee: Adults: 754 €, per year, reduced rate for children and seniors. With invitation by a member, 11 € per hour for seniors (6 € if playing double), 6 € per hour for students (5 € if playing double).
Special Features: A club with more than 1,000 members, terrace restaurant, bridge club, gym and ice hockey rink available, a place for players of all levels, tennis instructions for children.

French Open Trivia:

  • May 30, 2000 made history as the only day to be completely washed out since 1925.
  • Aspiring ball boys and girls must be aged between 12 and 16 and also be members of the FFT if they are to be among the lucky 200 selected for the tournament.
  • The No.1 Court, which seats 3,790 spectators, was built in 1980.
  • Chris Evert holds the record of most wins in women's singles with 7 Roland Garros titles to her name.
  • A grand total of 390,172 spectators came through the turnstiles in 2001, a record.
  • The stadium was named after Roland Garros, a member of the Stade Français. This aviator was the first man to cross the Mediterranean in 1913.

Author: Ian C. Mills, with court listings research by Nancy Koran © 1999- — All Rights Reserved.
Bibliography: Natasha Lesser, Editor, Fodor's France, Fodor's Travel Publications, New York. Jeanne Oliver, Frommer's Paris From $80 A Day (1999), Macmillan Travel, A Simon & Schuster Macmillan Company, New York. France 1998 Discovery Guide, French Government Tourist Office, New York. Emma Stanford, France Trip Planner & Guide (2000), McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books. Let's Go - The Budget Guide to France (2002), Let's Go Travel Publications, printed by St. Martin's Press, New York.
Recommended reference: Heiner Gillmeister (Editor), Tennis: A Cultural History (1998), New York University Press.
Images: "Jeu de Paume" from Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, 244, boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris. Various tennis cartoons by François Frapar, reproduced here with the permission of the artist. Cover shot of "The Zen of Tennis" from Books.



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