The Parisian racecourse of Longchamp is among the most famous and highly esteemed in the world. This is the traditional home of a large proportion of the top class races in France, a programme that that has been developed over a period of many decades by the Société d’Encouragement, the predecessor of France Galop. Its renown comes down in part to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which takes place every October, but there is much more besides.
Even before this, Longchamp had become the largest stadium in France. This was due of course to its proximity to Paris, and its place in the high society ‘season’, but above all it was because the biggest race of the nineteenth century, the Grand Prix de Paris, was held there.
Unlike the other big meetings for the best 3-year old colts, notably the Epsom Derby and the Prix du Jockey Club, this race had excellent prize money and was open to international competitors.
It was the pinnacle of the flat racing season and every June all of Europe gathered there to take part in this great ritual. During this time, the best thoroughbreds and the best jockeys came together to try and win this race.
Longchamp is the equivalent to Wembley in Paris.
The elegance of the Longchamp site, the excellence of its layout and its large size (57 hectares in the Bois de Boulogne) make it the equestrian equivalent of the Eiffel Tower. In its entirety, it is a symbol.
After going through several metamorphoses, the racecourse at Longchamp is now again being transformed so as to ensure that it enters the 21st Century with confidence. It will open its doors again at the start of 2018 season, when it will have a new setting designed by the architect Dominique Perrault, who is responsible for the reconstruction of other world-famous monuments, including the Grande Bibliothèque de France.
2 Route des Tribunes, 75016 Paris
Longchamp Racecourse closed its doors to the public for two years of refurbishment on October 5, 2015, the day after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Like in 2016, the 2017 edition of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will take place at Chantilly Racecourse. Longchamp re-opens in Spring 2018.
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Easy Racing area: Understand racing, learn to bet. www.france-galop.com/easyracing
|Full price||Reduced price||Parking|
|Weekends or public holidays||8€||5€||3€|
|Grands Prix 4*||10€||8€||3€|
|Grands Prix 5* Prix de Diane Longines||20€||16€||5€|
|Grands Prix 5* Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe||30€||27€||10€|
Grand Prix 4*: Prix Ganay, Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, Prix du Jockey Club, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, FG Garden Party Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, Meeting de Deauville Lucien Barrière, Qatar Arc Trials, Les 48 heures de l'Obstacle.
For futher information and tickets: billetterie.france-galop.com.
Reduced price: for those that have a France Galop Club card, students, over 60s, job-seekers, and those accompanying handicapped people.
Free entry for under 18s, PMU card holders (except Grand Prix 5*), and handicapped people.
Around 30 meetings a year;
Capacity 50 000 people;
57 hectares, including 17 hectares of turf tracks;
46 different starting points;
5 tracks, 4 of which are concentric:
A large right-handed track of 2,750 metres;
A middle right-handed track of 2,500 metres;
A small right-handed track of 2,150 metres;
A new right-handed track of 1,400 metres;
A straight-line track of 1,000 metres.
The Champ-de-Mars, where autumn race meetings were held in increasingly difficult conditions, was clearly not fit for purpose and so under the pressure of the Duke of Morny, the Bois de Boulogne was chosen as the location for a new Paris racecourse.
In 1856, the Paris municipality granted la Société d’Encouragement the site of La Plaine de Longchamp, which had previously formed part of the estate of the eponymous Abbey. One year later, on 27 April 1857, the first meeting was held in the presence of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, as well as a great many of the numerous racing enthusiasts who belonged to high society during the Second Empire. The first winner at Longchamp was the appropriately named Eclaireur, meaning Pathfinder in English.
In 1863, the Grand Prix de Paris was created. It remained the most lucrative race in the world up until the First World War.
The three wars endured by the capital would not leave the racecourse unscathed. It was bombed during the Siege of the Paris in 1870, and during the First World War was transformed first into a stockyard and then into a field hospital by the Americans, before finally being used an airfield.
In the period between these two conflicts, the wooden stands were rebuilt in stone (in 1904). Today, it is still possible appreciate their grandeur as one of the stands in the middle of the home straight has been preserved.
Between the two World Wars, Longchamp regained its former lustre. On the day of the Grand Prix de Paris, it regularly received more than 100,000 spectators, spread between the the scales area, the weighing room, and the viewing lawn.
In 1943, Longchamp was bombed again, including during a race meeting, because the Germans had transformed the viewing lawn into an anti-aircraft position.
In truth, this was not the first time that Longchamp had played host to the military. From 1867, military reviews had taken place on the tracks, and from 1880, when the 14 July had become a national holiday, Longchamp was the site of a military parade, attended by tens of thousands of spectators. The latter lasted until 1923.
Between 1962 and 1967, the stands were again partially rebuilt in a similar style to the constructions they replaced, which were all moved from the site by rail.
Forty years later, the stands were suffering all the more seriously from the ravages of time and France Galop decided to build a ‘New Longchamp’. Dominique Perrault was chosen as the architect.
The demolition work started the day after the 2015 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and will continue until Autumn 2017, in time for a planned reopening the following spring.