Racecourses in France

French racecourses in France are controlled by the industry body – France Galop.

There are a cluster of racecourses in and around the French capital of Paris – Longchamp, Auteuil, Maison-Laffittes and Saint Cloud.

Other racecourses of note are Pau – in the South West, Deauville in Normandy, Chantilly in Hauts de France and Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Côte d’Azur.

At the last count, there are over 250 hippodromes offering traditional horse racing and trotting races (le Trot)

There are no on-course bookmakers in France, and no betting shops. Pool betting is state controlled and is facilitated in PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain) shops that you will find in every French town and City, which also act as bars and sell other gaming products such as lotto. The PMU also is the conduit for betting on-course – similar to the Tote offering in Ireland & the UK.

HQ – Newmarket, Suffolk, UK

This is a practical guide to horse racing tracks visited, reviewed from a practical and social viewpoint. It is not intended to be a technical guide to the characteristics of a given track. If you wish to learn about the nitty-gritty of individual track trends etc. you will find other sites more relevant to that objective.

It aims to advise on the optimum logistics of travelling to a new racecourse, where to eat, stay and other guidance on what to expect.

This blog will be a moving feast, with updates as new tracks visited and revisted.

If you wish to share any of your experiences and feedback, please leave a comment or email: amanda@short-call.com

Auteuil, France

Auteuil is home to the Grand-Steeplechase de Paris, held every May. Situated on the outskirts of the City of Paris, it’s easy to get to and exclusively for jump racing.

Accommodation

This is not the forum to discuss Paris hotels! However 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/ You step out the door and the Arc de Triomphe monument looms before you.

Neither is this the platform to talk about restaurants – you can sort yourselves out!!

Getting there

Invariably you will be staying in the greater Paris area, so the racecourse is reached easily by bus or metro/RER (French strikes permitting of course) – When I was there in May 2019, the Gilets Jaunes movement was in full flow, so I ended up getting the metro, as opposed to the bus – from my base just off the Champs Elysees. From that location, it takes about 40 minutes, with a couple of changes.

Racecourse

Depending from which direction you alight to the racecourse, once through the turnstiles – you will end up walking through one of 2 tunnels for about 10 minutes, where you can pick up a free racecard. As you come out of the tunnel, you are hit with this magnificent and quite unexpected vista. I was quite unprepared for the sheer scale of the old Victorian stand.

Once inside, what is striking, is how spacious it is, no shortage of quiet space, and even a lounge to watch uninterrupted racing coverage.

What is also very evident is the enduring passion of France Galop, to ensure a highly memorable experience for guests at Auteuil . There are more than enough coffee, refreshment stands and in tune with other French racecourses, children’s needs are well-served with relevant racing related activities to hopefully nurture them, into the racegoers of the future.

There are varying levels of admission, I think I paid about €12 for a seat in the grandstand, which was the top level entry price. I appreciated the cushion on the seats as well!

The range of races on ‘Grand-Steep’ day are mesmerising with the unique obstacles.

Davy Russell after winning the big race in 2019 on Carriacou , trained by Isabelle Pacault

Summary

All racing fans endeavor to go to the Arc meeting at Paris-Longchamp once in their lifetime, regardless of which racing code they prefer. However, Auteuil offers such a great product in terms of the facilities, general operational management and value, that a day out at the Grand-Steep is a great introduction to French racing. Paris-Longchamp is still finding it’s place after it’s re-opening in 2018 and is highly congested and can be an uncomfortable experience. So, if you want to experience a first taste of French racing at a top level, I would recommend a relaxing, comfortable day at Auteuil.