A complete guide to what to do in Paris during the Olympics

From sightseeing to sporting highlights, here are the best things to do during Paris 2024 and how to do them.

All eyes will be on the City of Light this summer as it prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, exactly 100 years since it last did so. As millions of spectators gather to watch around 10,500 athletes perform at 35 venues between July 26 and August 11, followed by more at the Paralympics, expect the atmosphere to be electric and the crowds to be massive. If you haven’t managed to bag those all-important event tickets, there will be plenty of opportunities to watch the action for free, and if you’re there for the sights, top venues like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Catacombs aren’t going anywhere. Here are the best things to do in Paris during the Summer Olympics.

Paris 2024: know before you go

Why it’s a great time to go:

Paris is always at its best during spring and summer, when the flowers are in bloom and the sun sparkles on the Seine. For sports fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe athletes at the pinnacle of their careers; for those less interested, it’s a chance to see the iconic capital city like never before, and it might even mean shorter lines at top attractions.

Things you’ll only ever see during this time:

Paris is allowing people to swim in the Seine for the first time ever this year; athletes will take part in open-water swimming, paratriathlon, and triathlon competitions; after the Olympics, the river will be open to the public to swim in too. The Seine will also form the stage for an incredible Opening Ceremony, held on the river rather than in a stadium for the first time in Olympic history, with a boat for each national delegation. And if you book a particular hospitality package, you’ll be able to have access to the historic Palais Brogniart, which used to house the Paris Stock Exchange. This beautiful historic building will serve as the HQ for Team USA, but members of the public who have certain hospitality tickets will be able to see inside it for the first time, with access to viewing screens, food, and more.

How to feel part of the Olympics if you haven’t got tickets:

Don’t panic, you can still take in the action! You can catch the events on public screens, or on TV in buzzing bars and cafes that will no doubt echo the excitement of the 2018 World Cup Final, which France won. You can also soak up the buzzy atmosphere on the streets, with performances, parades, cultural events, and Olympic-related festivities happening throughout the city. Paris will be adorned with Olympic-themed displays and flags, which will lend even more color and excitement to the proceedings.

Ways to save time or money:

Download the official Paris 2024 app, which has details of all the events and their dates, times, and locations, helping you plan your routes to the Games in advance. Public transportation prices may increase during the Olympics; to save money, there’s a special Olympics travel pass which allows sports fans to benefit from unlimited travel to all the Olympic venues across the city throughout the Games and includes transport to and from the city’s airports.

Insider tips:

  • Tickets are on sale from the official Paris 2024 website and sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you want to try and guarantee getting one for your chosen event, book swiftly.

  • Be warned that accommodation will cost more than it would normally, especially around the main arenas such as the Stade Roland Garros, near the Bois de Boulogne, where the tennis tournaments will be held, and the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. If you want to find a bargain, consider booking somewhere on the outskirts of the city, with a good public transportation link, where it is cheaper.

Must sees at Paris 2024

Most attractions, museums, and monuments throughout the city will be open and accessible as usual:

The Eiffel Tower:

Freshly coated with a lick of gilt paint for the occasion, the Eiffel Tower will play an important part in the Games. It will host the Olympic men’s and women’s beach volleyball, then in August, the Paralympic men’s blind football events. A 12,000-seat arena will be located at the foot of the tower, and it is also going to be home to the Olympic Flame until the closing ceremony on August 11. If you want to scale the tower, its guided tours will be running as normal but you’re advised to book well in advance

Palace of Versailles:

As befits its horsey heritage — there have been working horses here since the Palace was built in 1623 — The Park at the Palace of Versailles will be the host venue for equestrian events as well as the modern pentathlon at the Games. There will be temporary grandstands dotted throughout the Park, for events such as dressage and showjumping, but otherwise, the palace, its park and gardens, and the Estate of Trianon all remain open to the public while the Games are on.

The Grand Palais:

Located just off the Champs-Élysées, close to the Alexandre III Bridge, this magnificent, Beaux-Arts structure, normally a museum and exhibition hall, will be hosting fencing and taekwondo. It’s a welcome echo of history, because artistic competitions were also held here during the 1924 Paris Olympics. This time, you won’t be able to visit unless you have a ticket for an event, but the Grand Palais has actually been shut to the public since 2021, embarking on a vast project of renovations, and is due to properly reopen in 2025.

New sporting arenas:

Only two new permanent sports venues have been specially built for Paris 2024 in a deliberate attempt to keep costs down. An 8,000-seat arena that will host badminton and rhythmic gymnastics was inaugurated in Porte de la Chapelle, a deprived part of northern Paris, in February 2024, while President Macron cut the ribbon at a new aquatics center in the suburb of Saint-Denis in April.

photo: Pascal Terjan

Stade de France:

The country’s largest stadium is transforming into the Olympic Stadium after three decades of hosting France’s biggest sporting events. It was originally created for the 1998 Football World Cup and has a capacity of 80,698. Located in Saint-Denis, this year, the Stade de France will host the athletics and the rugby sevens.

photo: Benh LIEU SONG

Stade Roland Garros:

This legendary Stade Roland Garros dates from 1928. Located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, it hosts the French Open every year, one of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments. For Paris 2024, it is set to host tennis and wheelchair tennis competitions, as well as boxing and sitting volleyball.

Place de la Concorde:

This vast square sprawls over nearly 19 acres, and is the biggest in Paris. Located at the other end of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe, it sits in the middle of the pretty Jardin des Tuileries. In its center, you’ll find the Luxor Obelisk, created during the reign of Ramses II, which makes it over 3,000 years old. It was gifted to the city by Egypt in the 19th century. In a notable contrast, all the urban sports will take place here in a temporary park, including 3x3 basketball, breaking, BMX freestyle, and skateboarding.

What will be closed during the Games

Several Olympic sites are located on significant piazzas and landmarks, including the Champ de Mars, Trocadéro, Invalides, Alexandre III Bridge, and Place de la Concorde, meaning that access to them is likely to be limited at all times, and closures are possible. Some landmarks may have temporary closures or opening hours. You can find up-to-date information of all planned restrictions and closures, including alternate routes and disability access information, for each location on the Paris 2024 venues page.

How can I watch?

You’ll be able to watch the triathlon’s swimming (1.5km), cycling (40km), and running (10km) events which take place right in the center of Paris — perch somewhere along the route, which stretches along the Seine, the quays and on the Champs-Élysées, and cheer the athletes on. All road cycling events — the time trial on July 27, the men’s route on August 3, and the women’s route on August 4 — are accessible free of charge to anyone spectating along the route. And Paris City Hall is setting up 25 fan zones across the capital, where Olympic events will be broadcast on giant screens. Areas include the Champions Park at Trocadéro, where fans can greet the previous day’s medal winners, Club France in Parc de la Villette, and the square in front of City Hall (Hôtel de Ville). Of course, it will all be broadcast live on TV, so many bars and cafes will also show the action.

Getting around

Download the CityMapper app to plan your way around Paris, and save money with a travel card. This application gives real-time updates on delays and line closures. Metro is the easiest way to get around, especially with increased traffic and road closures, but be aware that it’s always stuffy and overcrowded in the summer, so the Olympics are only going to make that worse; always carry a bottle of water with you. CityMapper also shows you bus, tram, and overground routes. For events that are further apart, consider a Velib’ bike.

What if I’m not a sports fan?

Most attractions, museums, and monuments throughout the city will be open and accessible as usual, so this is the time to bag tickets to big sights, such as the Catacombs or Paris’ best museums, like the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. While everyone else is busy watching tennis at the Stade Roland Garros or athletics at the Stade de France, you could be in the position to see the Mona Lisa without her usual crowds.

Where else can you see Olympics action?

Although Paris is the host city and will have 12 of the venues, some of the sports will take place across the rest of the country. The equestrian and modern pentathlon events will be held in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. The national velodrome in Montigny-le-Bretonneux will hold track cycling and BMX, and the mountain bike track is also in the wider Paris region. The football tournament will be held at six stadiums in other fantastic cities outside Paris: Bordeaux, Nantes, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Marseille, and Lyon. The final phases of handball will be played in Lille, as will basketball, while sailing will be in the Mediterranean at Marseille. The Games will also stretch to overseas territories, with Teahupo’o in Tahiti set to host the surfing competition.

[HEADER IMAGE CREDIT] Conall, Flickr; Some rights reserved