Olympics 2024 in Paris: what to expect as a tourist?

The venues for the 2024 Paris Olympics are partly located in the city’s historic center. A unique setting that will give television channels the opportunity to produce exceptional images, but will also impose heavy constraints on the city’s inhabitants…and visitors.

Not long ago, France’s Minister of Transport admitted that during the Olympic Games, traffic in Paris would be “hardcore“. But on closer inspection, it’s not just the traffic that’s likely to be a pain!

A short presentation of the Olympic Games, how they will transform the city for a time and what this means for those who will be there at the time.

Paris 2024: Games in the city center

This is perhaps what made the difference compared to the other candidate cities: the Paris 2024 Olympics will take place partly in the city center, in and next to iconic tourist sites. A unique experience both for spectators and for the television channels broadcasting the event around the world.

On the esplanade des Invalides you’ll be able to watch the archery, marathon and cycling time trials. A little further on you’ll have the open-water swimming events in the Seine, provided they’ve solved the pollution problems by then.

The 3*3 basketball, BMX freestyle, breakdance and skateboard events will take place on Place de la Concorde.

On the Champ de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, you can enjoy beach volleyball.

Not bad, is it?

Even better, for the first time the opening ceremony will not take place in a stadium, but on the Seine, over a 6-kilometre stretch. Hopefully it won’t rain or anything else happens to prevent it – there’s no plan B.

But as you can well imagine, organizing and securing such a venue poses constraints rarely seen before for the Games.

Soaring ticket prices for Paris 2024?

Before we talk about how to experience the Games (or not), there’s still the matter of getting there.

Although we don’t yet know to what extent, airfares are expected to rise significantly for people travelling to Paris. But that’s not all: as everything is being done to encourage Parisians to flee the city during the event, flights departing from the French capital may also be taken by storm.

Any hope? The concentration of arrivals and departures on certain dates could mean that some flights are full on the outward journey and empty on the return, which could be a boon for those who travel against the trend.

In any case, according to Opodo, searches for tickets to Paris on the dates of the Olympic Games in November 2023 are up 55% on the same period last year, when we were in the midst of a post COVID and “travel revenge” recovery.

We don’t expect anyone to arrive more than a few hours before the Olympic ceremony, but if you’re passing through Roissy or Orly for any reason on the day of the opening ceremony, whether Paris is your final destination or you’re just connecting, you’ll still be affected.

For security reasons, the two Paris airports, as well as Le Bourget and Beauvais, will be closed for 5 hours, from 7pm to midnight, during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

More generally, overflight of Paris will be prohibited within a 150 km radius during the ceremony. Traffic disruption to be expected, even for aircraft just flying over France.

Accommodation in Paris during the Olympics

Another major factor in preparing your trip is accommodation. Hotels in Paris have never been cheap, especially at certain times of the year, and you can imagine that the Olympics won’t help matters.

Here’s what a quick search for a 9-night stay conducted in November 2023 came up with for 2* hotels.

You’re not dreaming: over 630 euros a night for a 2*, and anyone who knows Parisian 2*s knows that you shouldn’t expect much. When it’s clean and there are no nasty surprises, you should already be happy.

But it can be worse: the bill can rise to over 1,700 euros a night.

We’ve stopped our search there, but we’re convinced that we can find something much more “fun”, so to speak.

And what does Airbnb offer? If you’re looking for an apartment for two people on the same dates, still in the Paris inner suburbs, prices “only” go up to 2,200 euros, or 240 euros a night.

Much more reasonable, but we didn’t look in detail at the quality of the properties on offer.

In any case, this is a far cry from the rates announced by Le Parisien, which relayed a study by an insurance broker predicting a 6-fold increase in prices compared with the same period in 2023.

If we go into more detail, we’re talking about an average of 756 euros per day for a studio, 829 euros for a two-bedroom and 1,209 euros for a three-bedroom.

Fortunately, our research shows that the reality is more moderate. Just for now?

Getting around Paris during the Olympics

Whether you’re in Paris to watch the Olympics or simply to sightsee, or both, you’re going to have to get around. And you’re not out of the woods yet. Your only consolation will be that the locals will be treated in exactly the same way.

Let’s start with access to Paris: 185km of roads on which one or more lanes may be reserved for accredited persons or emergency services between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Map of routes affected by traffic restrictions from July 1 to September 15, 2024 – InTerLUD

These routes are not closed, contrary to information that may have been circulated, but they are so complicated to access and use that it’s best to avoid them.

Note that the A1 freeway is concerned between Roissy CDG and Paris! Knowing that the CDG Express will not be ready in time….

But once you’re in town, there’s more to come. In fact, security perimeters will be established around the sites hosting the city games, and you’ve seen that there are many of them.

A protective perimeter will be set up around the sites, and no one will be able to enter without being searched. In principle, local residents will not be affected by the searches, except for the opening ceremony. It’s hard to imagine the sorting system that will be used to separate residents from non-residents!

As for traffic, it will be prohibited in the vicinity of the site unless an exemption is requested online. Access is restricted to vehicles belonging to the people who live there. A little further out, people going to a shop or restaurant by car will be allowed.

But why bother with a car when Paris has an excellent public transport network?

First of all, you should be aware that some metro stations will be closed because they are included in the perimeter of a site (like Concorde) or are too small (like Tuileries).

Secondly, public transport fares will double during the games.

From July 20 to September 8, 2024, a “Navigo Paris 2024 pass” will be created at a single weekly rate of 70 euros, compared with the current 30 euros!

The unlimited one-day pass will cost 16 euros, with a sliding scale depending on the number of days chosen.

The metro ticket will rise from 2.10 euros to 4 euros.

Good news for Parisians: the price of the monthly passes many of them hold will remain unchanged. For the rest of you, or Parisians who don’t have a monthly pass, you’ll need to stock up on metro tickets before July 20!

The reason: to have the temporary increase in capacity financed by those who come for the occasion, and not by regular users who have no choice.

We expect 1.5M Olympics-related users every day, in addition to the 10M local users.

Visiting Paris during the Olympics

It will of course be possible to visit Paris during the Olympics, but as you can see, some sites will be very difficult to access, which won’t make for a very pleasant experience.

But don’t tell yourself that coming before the Olympics will allow you to slip through the cracks. For example, the Seine will be closed 7 days before the opening ceremony in order to “secure” it. So much for your fly boat ride.

Eating out in Paris during the Olympics

After suffering all these constraints during the day, you tell yourself that you’ve earned the right to enjoy the local gastronomy in the evening, or simply to have a drink. Good idea, but it might not be on a terrace.

We have it on good authority that plans are afoot to reduce the size of terraces and their opening hours during the Olympic Games!

Why ?

To encourage people to visit the fan zones and other official festivities and spend their money there.

Bottom line

The public authorities’ message leaves no room for ambiguity: life will be complicated in Paris during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from July 26 to September 8, and even a little before. Complicated for tourists and hellish for locals.

And it’s not even certain that businesses will benefit. While hotels and private rental companies are likely to make their money, small shops, bars and restaurants are likely to have a bad summer.

The authorities’ message to Parisians is clear: “flee”. Maybe tourists should do the same.

Photo : Paris 2024 by kovop via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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