Working at Roland Garros

7 April 2020

In her fifth blog, Ruth talks about her experience at Roland Garros.


 Way back in 2015, after finishing my AS levels, I got the chance to go to Roland Garros (the Wimbledon of France, as I’ve taken to describing it when people look at me blankly) for the first time. I was just starting to think that I would like to study French at university and the dream of working and living in Paris, watching tennis and practising French all at once took root in the back of my mind. That’s where is stayed for the next three and a half years until I realised the start date of the tournament perfectly coincided with the end date of my university term in Lyon. The dream was BACK ON.

After having had my French CV proofread by a friend, I sent it off in response to every job description mentioning Roland Garros that I could find on Indeed.fr. One thing I find very trying about the French education system, and subsequently grateful for about the British one, is the rigid correlation between degree and job. In order to work in any kind of business, you NEED a degree in business. In order to work in a bank you NEED a degree in economics. Grad schemes and conversion courses don’t really exist here and so frustratingly, many jobs at Roland Garros required a degree in Sports Management or similar qualifications that I didn’t possess. Thankfully though, degrees in ice cream selling don’t exist and so that was the job I got. After a selection process more rigorous than that of the most prestigious graduate job  – two interviews, a French exam, an English exam (safe to say I nailed that part) AND a written exam, I was hired by Unilever France as Vendeuse de Glace.

My regular working day would start long before I was actually required to start. I arrived at the grounds at around 9:30am in order to walk around the outside courts where I could watch some of the biggest names in tennis practising mere feet away from me. For a tennis super fan such as myself, being so close you can even hear the advice the coach is giving, is often even better than watching a real match. However, I was there to work and at 11 am I would head over to my stand (conveniently positioned right in front one of the many screens scattered around the ground) where I would spend the next five hours chatting in French with my partner, watching the match on the big screen during the lull, selling ice creams and giving directions to people who could see neither the huge magnum logo above my head nor the huge sign reading INFORMATION SERVICES situated just to my left. At 4 pm I would pass over the baton to my colleague and was free to head off and make the most of being in the grounds. We were allowed to watch matches on all the outside courts and often, at around 7pm the doors to the main show courts were opened and I would settle in to watch the last big match of the day. From start to finish (barring a few moments of ice cream related stress or one of my favourite players losing) each day was a dream and I would arrive home late, after having squeezed out every last minute of watching tennis, tired but excited to do it all the next day.

When I started searching for Roland Garros jobs in January I felt like I was wishing away the five months I had ahead of me in Lyon. However, as soon as I arrived at the grounds on my first day, I was so grateful for my foreword planning. Working alongside French students my own age with common interests and time to kill together, I had more opportunity to practise my language than I had anywhere before and even in just three weeks, I noticed tangible improvements in both my confidence and ability. I’m so grateful for the time I got to spend in Paris and at Roland Garros and I can’t recommend enough trying to find a passion project to tag on the end of your year abroad.


By: Ruth Wynn