British and Irish racegoers who endured unacceptable queues for basic services on Arc day last year have been promised a much better offering, including reduced ticket prices and "the biggest pub in Paris", should they come to watch Enable attempt her history-seeking hat-trick in October.
France Galop are determined to do better after stinging criticism from visiting racegoers about the paucity of facilities compared with demand on Arc day last year – the first at the redeveloped Longchamp – when British and Irish racegoers reported an average satisfaction score of just 3.9 out of ten.
Now with an anticipated 45,000 crowd expected on Arc Sunday –10,000 more than last year – plans have been unveiled to back words with action, with lower ticket prices for some enclosures and a major increase in betting, bar and catering outlets as well as extra toilet facilities.
Buoyed by the popularity and success of the Thursday "Jeuxdi" race nights, Longchamp officials believe they have learned a lot more about the needs of a crowd demanding a higher level of service than regular Parisian racegoers, while they will scale up all those services which came under pressure last October.
France Galop director general Olivier Delloye reiterated the organisers had been caught out in 2018 by the demands of racegoers from Britain and Ireland, after a fall in the number of visitors during the two years the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe spent outside Paris at Chantilly.
"Probably our biggest mistake was that, after two years of the Arc being staged at Chantilly, which attracted many fewer British people, we probably forgot the British people who come for the races bet much more than the French," said Delloye.
"We probably forgot that they were keen to drink a little bit more than the French as well. So we were short of the basic services."
Enable winning the 2017 renewal of the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, picture Liesl King
100m bar opposite second winning post
In addressing the increased thirst of some visiting fans, marketing director Fabrice Favetto Bon announced a new temporary bar on an epic scale in the garden area to the side of the new grandstand, opposite the second winning post used for seven-furlong races such as the Prix de la Foret.
"We will implement the biggest pub in Paris for one weekend in association with Guinness and we will have more than 100 metres of bar, so I think it will be a good place to enjoy the racing and to have fun," said Favetto Bon.
One area identified as a pinch point for congestion was the lower levels of the grandstand, where queues for food and drink crossed those for people waiting to bet or visit the toilets.
This year Favetto Bon explained that some of those functions would take place in separate areas.
"We won't have any bars or food outlets in the stand facing out on to the course and those areas, as well as the lawn in front, will be dedicated to betting and watching the racing, while there will be more food and drink on the walkway behind the stand overlooking the paddock," he said.
Longchamp subject of a difference of opinion
French racegoers gave an average 7/10 for satisfaction after Arc
UK/Irish Arc attendees reported 3.9/10 satisfaction on average
France Galop customer satisfaction survey
There were 343 betting outlets in 2018 but around 100 of those were mobile operators using tablets, which were not a hit with visiting punters because of a lack of visibility.
The overall numbers of betting sites will be increased to 400, with more manned kiosks and clearer signage for the mobile operators.
Prices come down for general admission
British and Irish veterans of Longchamp have long been used to extremely low ticket prices compared with racedays at home and Delloye admitted that steep rises in general admission had also added to some people's discontent.
"You are far less forgiving when you pay a higher fee than you used to," said Delloye. "It sets the bar even higher for us in terms of quality of service."
While some premium tickets remain the same, the price of a general grandstand ticket drops from €75 to €65, while the Jardins de l'Arc turfed area – home to the new Guinness bar – are down significantly from €30 to €20.
A general grandstand ticket in 2015 – the last at Longchamp before the redevelopment – was €20.