Beautiful Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne. I was a frequent visitor to the old Longchamp and in the interests of transparency, have only visited the new Paris-Longchamp, once – and in the year it re-opened in 2018.
Paris-Longchamp is easily reached by free ‘navettes’ (courtesy shuttle buses) on Arc day, which depart from opposite Porte Maillot. Porte Maillot is a congress centre, as well as being the dropping off/collecting point for Ryanair passengers to get to and from Beauvais – just in case you know that, as a general marker.
After racing on Arc day the navettes will be under pressure and you will probably have to wait a while to get back into central Paris, but no longer than about 20-30 minutes.
On other racedays, the venue can be reached by bus/ metro/on foot/cycling etc.
Convenient districts in which to stay
Paris is divided up into a group of districts – or arrondisments. The 8th, 16th & 17th are the recommended ones, to have closer proximity to Porte Maillot and therefore Paris-Longchamp. The 8th would generally be the more expensive as it includes the Champs Elysees and surrounds.
If you are looking for a good-value, centrally located hotel off the Champs Elysees, I would recommend Hotel Elysees Ceramic: https://ceramic-paris-hotel.com/en/ Step out the door and the Arc de Triomphe monument looms before you.
The new structure now has 3 enclosures – the cheapest one having no visibility of the finish line, or access to the parade ring. There are a variety of different options and hospitality packages which you can check out here: https://www.parislongchamp.com/en/qatar-prix-de-larc-triomphe
In 2018, we paid about €70.00 per ticket, which we did get discounted by 50% – for the equivalent of a members or club type experience. Unfortunately Paris-Longchamp had not accurately assessed how much Irish & British visitors drink and consequently the facilities fell down in every area, from lack of bars, toilets and places to sit. Perhaps there was a higher than usual attendance of this cohort that first year of the new facility, as everyone wanted to see it and perhaps that led to the underplanning. Overall it was a bit of a disaster and we took refuge in one of the restaurant areas in the cheaper enclosure, as that didn’t appear to be as over-subscribed as the rest of the venue.
My understanding is that in 2019, significant improvements were made in all the areas above. I look forward to an Arc day there in the future.
One think that has stuck in my head, was the use of wood for the stand – presumably in keeping with the wider wooded Bois de Boulogne area. It was a fairly damp, wet day in 2018 and if you had slightly impractical shoes on, it was very hairy walking up the steps, in terms of the slippage. Ladies beware!
Parisians rarely go racing, but Arc day is one of those days that anyone who is anyone, shows up to show off in their finery. The vast majority of attendees will have made an effort, including all the international visitors, which include the Japanese of course. So jeans and casual clothes, won’t really cut it.
With the quotient of British visitors in particular, the atmosphere can get fairly lively, quite early on. There is also a fair degree of flag waving, with British, Irish and Japanese as well as French flags being brandished by certain racegoers.
There is genuinely a fantastic atmosphere, greatly enhanced by rousing music when the winner comes back in, which makes for a great experience, and genuinely gets the blood pumping. It is like a diluted version of Cheltenham, from the general anticipation and excitement point of view. With a card overflowing with group ones and arguably the best flat race in the world – you would need a heart of stone, not to be moved by the theatre of the occasion.
It – like Cheltenham, has to be a must-visit for any racing fan, regardless of whether you like flat racing or not.
My understanding is that the other days outside of that 1st Sunday in October, are much more pleasurable affairs, in terms of enjoying the facilities. I believe there has been some progress in enticing the local community into some of the summer series evenings that they run. My plan before COVID-19, was to visit in July to attend the Grand Prix de Paris on Bastille day, however that looks unlikely due to the current guidance of President Macron with regard to outdoor events. I will update this page, once I have more current experience of a day out at the glorious Bois de Boulogne!