With almost 3000 horse races organised all over France throughout the year, there are endless possibilities to experience the excitment of a day at a racecourse, at least once in your life.
The prestigious ‘Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe’¹, run on 7 October, is just one example among others of the various horse races organised in France with most of them in one of the six racecourses² around Paris. Considered to be exclusive and posh, the racecourses nevertheless try to open their mysterious doors to the public, and with these tips, you will quickly know your way around.
Get prepared for your first French horse race
You firstly need to decide what kind of horse race you would like to go to see: a normal race or rather a jumps race? While the atmosphere reigning at both horse races will definitely carry you away, a jumps race is definitely more spectacular than a normal race.
You also need to consider the time of day³ you would like to go see your first horse race. Why not opt for a horse race at night with a romantic dinner to go with? Or a luxury lunch like the one served at the ‘Prix de Diane Longines’, one of the high profile races organised every year in June?
Little tip for the women: take your hats! Not only will the regulars appreciate your effort, but it will also give you free entry.
Be one of the French regulars
Most important one: enjoy its particular atmosphere! Admire the elegant outfits of the women, find yourself a comfortable place in the stands and get swept away by the enthustiastic cheering of the public.
Also, you should bet on a horse at least once in your lifetime! Do not worry if you have no experience at all. At most French racecourses, you will be able to get more information on how to determine which horse you should bet on from professional gamblers. However, you can also just have a look at the paddock right before the horses get into the race and put your mind on an outsider. And then you just hope ‘your’ horse wins the race…
Do not forget to cash in your money right after the horse race! You only have 30 minutes after the race to go get your winnings.
A little French luxury
You won some money by betting on one of the horses? Do not resist the temptation to celebrate with a sip of French champagne, and by spending more money than you should in the various luxury shops you will find at the racecourse.
You can for example, try out one of those extravagant hats or buy some souvenirs of the first horse race you went to. Or you can take a guided tour that will get you behind the scenes of a race.
Other events such as concerts can be organised according to the theme or the prestige of the horse race you attend.
Finally, do not worry about getting to races that are mostly situated outside town. Most of them will organise free transport from a given place to get you there as soon and as comfortable as possible.
The next major horse races are the ‘International Critérium’? and the ‘International Jumping Weekend’? in the beginning of November.
Have you been to the races in Paris? What did you think?
1. Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
2. Chantilly Racecourse, on France Galop
3. Calendrier des courses françaises 2012
4. Critérium International – Saint-Cloud, on Hippodomes Parisiens
5. Week-End International de L’Obstacle, on France GalopImage Credits:
1. tpower1978, via Flickr
2. jacques pasqueille, via Flickr
3. Stylish picnic, via CPP-Luxury
4. Happy A, via Flickr
5. CharlesFred, via Flickr