Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Les Dimanches au Galop: back on course this weekend!

Les Dimanches au Galop, held each Sunday in spring, is an attempt to turn horse-racing into a fun, family activity, and most definitely a successful one.

Paris has several impressive race tracks on its fringes, and incredibly most of the time these are almost empty, even during race meetings. With wide open green spaces, comfortable facilities (snack bars and picnic tables for those on a budget, or more impressive track-side restaurants for those looking to make it a real day out), it is always a surprise to find these venues so underpopulated.

On Sundays in March, April and May though this is different. By offering free entry (although entry prices to even the most important races of the year remain eminently affordable) and a whole host of activities for kids, the organisers have successfully managed to attract a faithful following for the events. Don't worry about overcrowding though - the multi-tiered stands offer space enough for everyone, and you'll easily be able to get a comfortable grandstand view of the races.

Gambling is carefully controlled in France, and outside of a race course you can only bet in licensed bars and place accumalor bets (the first three/four/five horses to finish). At the race course though you can place any sum you like on as many horses as you want.

Although gambling remains an important part of the sport (and of course what has made France an attractive venue for racehorse owners), the Dimanche au Galop event is more about the sideshow events for children. Alongside the pony rides and horserace themed activities, new this year is a race simulator - which promises to put you in the position of a jockey during a race!

  • 25 March: Hippodrome d’Auteuil
  • 1 April: Hippodrome de Saint-Cloud
  • 8 April: Hippodrome de Longchamp
  • 15 April: Hippodrome de Longchamp
  • 22 April: Hippodrome d’Auteuil
  • 29 April: Hippodrome de Longchamp
  • 6 May: Hippodrome d’Auteuil
  • 13 May: Hippodrome de Longchamp
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