9.22.2008

Open de France Polo Cup






The weather remains spectacular. So, like many Parisians, I decided to head out of the city for the weekend.

I rented a car and set my sights on Chantilly. Located just an hour north of Paris, it would be an easy drive and a very do-able day trip. Chantilly is famous for its beautiful chateaux and race track. I had always wanted to go there and this was the perfect opportunity.

The final match of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Open de France Polo Cup was being held at the prestigious Chantilly Polo Club on Sunday afternoon. I arrived at about eleven o’clock in the morning. I toured the Chateaux and the Grand Ecuries until mid-day. Then, I hit the road to Ferme d’Apremont, where the tournament was taking place.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Open de France is one of the four major polo tournaments of the season. Jaeger-LeCoultre is famous for its Reverso watch, which was designed intentionally for polo in order to protect the face from possible damage during play.

I had never attended a polo match outside the United States, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. As it turns out, the “polo scene” seems to be the same all over the world. Guests arrived in luxury automobiles outfitted in jeans, boots, blazers, stable jackets and Hermes scarves. Many packed a picnic lunch and were provided a parking space alongside the field in exchange for a twenty-five euro donation to the Kiwanis Club.

There was also a tented brasserie and stadium style seating. A sponsor tent, which included a full-on Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique, was provided for VIPs and their guests. Almost everyone, including me, sat or leaned on the rail fence just beyond the perimeter of the field. This provided the best views and the most camaraderie.

The Chantilly Polo Club and the Deauville Polo Club were in the finals. Play was very exciting, with an even score at the end putting the match into overtime. Deauville was the first to score, winning the final match and the 2008 Open de France.

There was competition off the field as well. A Concours de Picnic was held and the best presentation was awarded a bottle of Champagne.

When all was done, I headed back to Paris energized and completely charmed by the picturesque countryside
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