A truly exceptional experience
In the heart of the Bois de Boulogne
Now, ParisLongchamp is much more than a racecourse: it’s a new destination for a day or an evening out to escape from the city. H Equestrian Passion invites you to (re)discover it.
Breaking with the conventions of a traditional racecourse, that was the idea behind the redevelopment of what has become one of the finest racecourses in the world. Its official reopening on 29 April this year was an occasion for major celebration. With a programme of top class races - including the Prix Allez France Longines - it marked a new chapter in the history of this iconic location.
Having reopened ParisLongchamp as Official Partner, Longines is also its Official Timekeeper. Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, gave us his impressions on the spot: “It’s one of the finest racecourses in the world. It’s up there in the top 5, with Royal Ascot in England or Royal Randwick in Australia. I think it’s magnificent! Everything is perfectly set up so that spectators are truly involved, including the Open Stretch arrangement at the beginning of the straight, which really opens up the view of races. It’s a truly exciting and amazing setting!”. He adds: “After all, it’s the only sport in which, while the race is running, the horse you’re rooting for belongs to you, whoever you are and however much you might have bet”. As for the new setting for the races, “Now, you can come to ParisLongchamp with your family or a group of friends too. And you want to share an experience that’s not only full of excitement, but also a celebration. A quality moment. Now, the races aren’t just for racing professionals and punters: the setting is open to all - including evening meetings, so people can discover this exciting world after work”. Juan-Carlos Capelli smiles: “It has something for everyone, with a certain elegance, like our watches: after all, there’s a Longines for every wrist”.
It’s a very cinematic project, with series of views like film frames, and also stage-like, with different ambiances in different places. Dominique Perrault, architect of ParisLongchamp
A historic temple of racing
With a 160-year-long history, Longchamp racecourse was officially opened in 1857 - on 27 April to be precise - in the presence of Napoleon III. It has undoubtedly helped spread the renown of French horseracing and excellence in horse breeding. A particular highlight is the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, first run shortly after the First World War. From the outset, this was designed as a major international race, with the purpose of selecting the best thoroughbreds for breeding. The location in which it is built - in the heart of Paris’ 16th arrondissement - is simply exceptional. This justifies its status as an exceptional Parisian destination and its connection to the capital of elegance par excellence. So, it is perfectly natural that its name is now inextricably linked to that of the most visited capital city in the world, and Longchamp is now called “ParisLongchamp”.
A setting to share
The architect Dominique Perrault was chosen by France Galop to take charge of this huge redevelopment project, which lasted for over two years. “The building is open to all, designed to be easily accessible, and also very compact in terms of the layout of its various functions, which have now been brought much closer together”, he explains. How would he sum up the project? It is flexible, innovative and versatile. “Simpler, lighter, pared down”, he adds. And - a key feature - the architectural design ensures that spectators will never find themselves without a view of the outside. A structure of transparent “shelves”, with neither front nor back, so that spectators can move easily from a view over the stables to a view over the racecourse itself.
“The racing experience is obviously mainly about the racetrack itself, but also the parade ring, the promenade, and wider still the Bois de Boulogne and Paris”, he continues. The new architecture of the racecourse therefore makes the most of the magnificent setting – with grounds designed by Alphand in the 19th century – offering breathtaking views of sights such as La Défense and the Eiffel Tower. Highlighting this totally exceptional setting, including the new grandstand which occupies the same location as the former grandstands, now demolished, and also lounge areas, boxes, suites, terraces on which to sip a drink and paths to stroll along. To return to the grandstand - in a powerful motion, its four-level structure conjures up the image of a galloping horse. Leading the gaze toward the track, the tiers are staggered up to the top level, forming a twenty-metre overhang. Finally, still on the theme of a “grandstand in motion”, the levels slope in two directions: leaning forwards, towards the track, and also towards the finish.
Strong horizontal emphasis and bronze colour
“It’s a flexible, lived-in space”, explains the architect. The idea is to make ParisLongchamp work not only during the numerous race meetings, but for other events too, with different audiences. “This racecourse, which, under optimal conditions, can accommodate as many as 60,000 spectators on site, is designed to be highly flexible and capable of functioning in sections, for example for smaller gatherings at ordinary events”, continues Dominique Perrault. At the same time, public and racing professionals alike move around and mingle there in perfect flow and harmony. During races, for example, the public occupy the first and second levels of the grandstand, with racing professionals and owners on the third level, and VIPs on the fourth and final level, which contains over 17 suites and 12 private lounges. As for the yellow and bronze tones in which the entire building is decorated, “this is a pictorial concept, referencing the highly prestigious Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which is run in October, at a time when the Bois de Boulogne is taking on its colourful autumn foliage. These tones blend into the landscape”, explains Dominique Perrault.
ParisLongchamp in figures
- A new grandstand holding around 10,000 spectators in tiers
- Four grandstand levels
- On the fourth level, a restaurant with a terrace, five hospitality lounges, five bars and a brasserie
- Total area of site: 63 ha
- Area of lawns: 55,000 m2 (an extra 35,000 m2)
- 105 new trees planted
- Almost 600 trees currently on the site
- Heating: 100% from geothermal energy
More to discover
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