Watching matches live with kids can be so much fun! The city is unusually alive and its almost carnival like. We’ve had the best experiences in South Africa and Australia. This one is from the recent EuroCup 2016 match at Lens.
I have been fascinated by the French culture for a while now. It came about when I was evaluating how consumerist urban India is becoming and if, apart from the American dream, there is an alternate way of life inspired by Europe. The French way of life is about living each day, loving yourself and the time you have. They take art and beauty so seriously, they eat fresh, visit the bakery even twice a day, indulge a bit everyday, buy fewer but more expensive things and make them last longer, and move – a lot. The weekends are about going for outdoor picnics, hikes and the like and there are hardly any mall outings. I wouldn’t presume to know too much about the culture, but it sounds good. So I was quite looking forward to the two days in France we had. This was a quick stopover to watch 3 of the Euro matches on our way to a longer sojourn in Italy.
Looking forward wasn’t exactly true, i was indeed excited to see France ‘live’, also in the aftermath of the recent unhappy incidents, but my previous experience of French hospitality hadn’t been too pleasant.
That was before I chanced upon C MY PARIS. I don’t remember how it all started, but Larissa from C my Paris buzzed me about my Paris itinerary and offered to help with finding our way around with kids.
I really liked the concept of C MY PARIS. The idea is to help the visitor see the city through the eyes of a local resident. Almost like having a friend show you around to the places you’d like to see. I had wanted to do a bit of travel dating along similar lines, where we’d plan to meet up with friends of friends or similar, who live in the city and have kids – a great way to experience the place and have kids make new friends.
Larissa’s recommendations on everything, from parks close to where we were staying, to helping us with information on getting local sims and about the stadium rules for the Euro matches, were detailed and useful. It was a pleasure to catch up with her and her two sons. The kids were busy playing around while we chatted away at a cafe. I got to know a bit more about the Parisian life, and watched the kids play quite oblivious of the fact that they were speaking in different languages.
Our 2 days were actually 3 matches between Paris and Lens. The live match experience, as always, was awesome, for even sport agnostics like me. Especially, the England vs Wales at Lens. The walk to the stadium itself was beautiful and all the pubs were filled with fans.
We did manage to catch an evening at the Eiffel tower too. From the Trocadero side this time.
Oh, and the one thing i didn’t really expect to see was the public urinals of this kind, right near the Eiffel!
The airport we went to though, wasn’t CDG but Orly. We sampled the famed macaroons, halted for fun at the play area and made good use of the generous baby care rooms.
All in all, it was a short and hectic amuse bouche but better than my previous short visit. Maybe this was a coloured view given I’m fascinated by their way of life, but I’d definitely like to see more.
Watching the matches was an awesome experience. I really dont care much for cricket, but the stadium atmosphere, the national anthem being sung by 50k spectators…all worth being a part of. We watched a total of 5 matches across 4 cities with the 2 kiddies in tow 🙂 and a lot of people asked – how do you do this? So here is the 101 on match watching with the kiddies.
1. Tame expectations – do tell the husband that actual match watching is in the range of 50%-60% at best for an ODI, a T20 can be watched almost whole. We mostly left early or reached late and had to step out a number of times to either feed or entertain kids. Here is M’s view of how the time is spent.
2. Watch the first one outside India – sad, but true. We’ve watched cricket in Australia, England, South Africa and Sri Lanka and the facilities are designed to make the whole process truly enjoyable. There is a variety of food available, we were allowed to take the pram and bags, including food items, inside. Play areas and parks surround the stadium and one can step in and out a number of times.
Once you enter, the entire stadium is accessible; and most of all there were Parents’ Rooms, with changing trays, feeding rooms TV and AC to help manage kids under 2! (this is Australia only). The SCG, MCG, Adelaide Oval allowed prams, Perth did not. But for the others, the attendance must have been 1/3 kids under the age of 10. And the stadium looked like this!
South Africa had the grass bank stands which allowed for plenty of room to run around, kids were given a bat and ball to play with and many people had set up their own barbecues too.
We have watched the Football WC with Sara in Brazil and the stadia were bad, it was a really long walk from the parking/public transport drop off, prams were not allowed and we had to carry her a lot of the times. They didnt have food and did not allow us to take any in – so we survived on heavy meals before and popcorn and chips during. The entry queues were long and the only saving grace was that they would allow us in through the special entrance as i was visibly pregnant.
In India, S’s first match experience was at 9 months for the Nehru Cup (football); not too bad.
3. Prepare smaller kids for the noise levels – K used to get all shaky every time there was a roar. By the 2nd match he was used to it and needed only a tight hug to sail through the cheers.
4. Do carry sunblock and hats – the most likely reason for not having a good experience abroad is the heat/sun in your eyes.
Holidaying in the host country is s good option too, if you want to avoid the risk of spending a lot of money on tickets and then not liking the stadium or having a bad experience. The atmosphere is all party, most cities have a fan zone with a large screen playing the match live and there is plenty stall set up by sponsors to keep kids busy.
Ping me if you’re inspired to watch one live and want to know more.