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Top things to do in Paris during the Olympics

Le Louvre in Paris

So you’ve managed to bag yourself some tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympics – how does it feel to be the main character? Or maybe you didn’t and you’re just heading to Paris to enjoy the excitement. Either way, the city of love is going to be pretty busy this summer, so you’ll have plenty to do in between events!

This is our list of top 10 things to do so you can really soak up the full thrilling atmosphere that’s sure to be buzzing through the air as athletes battle it out for gold. 

QUIZ! Find out what Olympic Sport you are, and we’ll tell you where you should go

QUIZ! Find out what Olympic Sport you are, and we’ll tell you where you should go

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by Manasi Gadgil Mar 28, 2024

What should I know about visiting Paris during the Olympics?

It goes without saying that this is a major event which will be attracting a lot of crowds of both avid viewers and fans, as well as the athletes themselves and their teams. So Paris is going to be busier than usual. 

If you’ve got any bucket list items you want to tick off – like visiting the Louvre or strolling under the Eiffel Tower – you’ll probably want to find a different time for this as certain Parisian icons are being used as event venues, and others will just be packed with people.

Additionally, if you haven’t already secured your hotel or hostel, you’ll want to get on that ASAP because they’re also sure to be full to the brim. Other than that, Paris is still Paris, and it’s beautiful! But to help you have an amazing time we’ve filled this list with a few low-key activities and hidden gems so you can avoid all the people and still enjoy your week or two away. 

1. Head to the Fan Zones

If you weren’t lucky enough to snag tickets to your favourite Olympic events, no worries at all! Fan Zones will be set up across the city so that you can enjoy the games on the big screen with plenty of other people who share your enthusiasm.

Food and drink stalls will be set up by the Fan Zones as well, so if you’re choosing to head to one of these why not make a day out of it! They will be busy, though, so keep that in mind, but the vibe will be immaculate with everyone cheering on their countries in a total melting pot of culture.

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16 of the best free things to do in Paris

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2. Hit the high street

Just because it’s the Paris Olympics and sport is taking over doesn’t mean that everything else this city is known for is going to be put on the back burner. Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so you’d be absolutely remiss not to take advantage of the luxury department stores like Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayette. 

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s always fun doing a little bit of window-shopping to gawk at the beautiful and chic garments one can only dream of wearing. Spend a day living your best Emily in Paris life, with refuelling stops at street-side bistros for coffee and food.

3. Catch the Opening Ceremony

Even if you haven’t got tickets to any of the events, you HAVE to catch the Paris Olympics Opening Ceremony because it’s going to be magical. Generally the Opening Ceremony and passing of the torch takes place within the Games’ main stadium, but Paris will be breaking this tradition this year in favour of something even more magical.

Instead, a veritable army of floating vessels will be taking over the Seine for a 4-mile journey of colour, sound, perfect energy, and fireworks. You can either get tickets for the best of the best views along the banks, or you can access the upper banks which will be free! Sure your direct view may not be the best, but the Opening Ceremony will be captured on screens so you won’t miss a thing.

4. Visit Monet’s house

Paris is gorgeous and the Haussman architecture is iconic, but if you need a break from the urban jungle take a day trip out to Giverny where you can visit the painter Claude Monet’s home. If you, like many, have fallen in love with his impressionist renditions of water lilies then you’ll LOVE this.

Monet painted his back yard, and you’ll get a chance to visit the most lush grounds ever, as well as a charming home fit for any artist on your trip to Giverny. It’s a quick train ride out of the city and 100% worth it if you need a break from the bustling noise of Paris. Just make sure to book tickets in advance.

5. Participate in some sports of your own

While you may not be a Herculean athlete, you can still compete for gold! Engage in fun local activities like sailing old wooden toy boats, or racing motorised ones, across the Grand Basin in the gardens of the Palais de Luxembourg, or renting a row-boat yourself to take across the Canal St. Martin or the lake at the Bois de Boulogne.

If you’re looking for something a little more authentic and typically French, you can challenge some locals at a game of Pétanque. A competition involving throwing metal boules and a smaller wooden one, it’s a classic game enjoyed by many people of all ages, and if you take on a game at the Luxembourg Gardens or the Place de la Nation you’ll be sure to have an amazing summer’s day.

Or if you want to see the city and get a little sweat on while you do, head for a bike ride along the Seine and past all the major monuments. You may not be as fast as the cycling champions, but you’ll still have one hell of a good time.

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6. Visit Boulogne-Billancourt

Boulogne-Billancourt is one of the closest suburbs of the city, and a great escape from the rush of the Paris Olympics for when you need a break. Famous for the Bois de Boulogne, this area is considered the lung of the city for all its parks and lakes and wooded areas which make you forget the city altogether! 

Spend a day or two here just breathing in the fresh air, strolling through idyllic streets, and resting at local cafés for a drink and a pastry. If you’re in the mood to visit a museum but are worried about the hoards of people at the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, then the Musée Paul-Belmondo, Musée des Années 30, and Musée Albert Kahn in this suburb should be enough to fill that craving.

7. Party at La Station

Need some time to unwind from all the excitement and passion of the Paris Olympics? Head to one of the coolest gigs in the city at La Station. Coal station turned live music venue, La Station is reminiscent of the edgy nightlife locations of Berlin with an unmistakable Parisian flare. It has both indoor and outdoor stages where you can dance, drink, and party with your friends to a mix of techno, punk, and mainstream beats.

Not only is it an amazing place to party, it’s also budget friendly and a great place to make any friends for your long or short stay!

8. Get a feel for the royal life at Versailles

Versailles is playing host to the Equestrian events this year (how perfect!), so it’ll be a little busier than usual between the 27th of July and 6th of August, but if you’re in Paris for an earlier or later event then the crowds should hopefully have died down. Visiting Versailles is an absolute must when in Paris. You’ll be experiencing French history (minus the beheadings) on some of the most regal and impressive grounds of Europe

The Palace of Versailles itself is huge, but the grounds are even bigger, with symmetrical gardens, elegant fountains, delightfully scented orange groves, and so much more. Get lost in the hall of mirrors and let your jaw-drop at the gilded entrance gate. You can even take a bike tour around the grounds for a full view.

9. Wine and cheese tastings

How can we talk about Paris, let alone France, without prompting you to try at least one (but probably many) wine and cheese tastings? France is known for its long and very special gastronomy and while classic dishes like steak tartare and French onion soup are a symphony for the taste buds, you can never go wrong with something simple.

Cheese board and accompanying wine pairings are a true cause for celebration and you should indulge as much as you can! Whether you’re smearing ooey gooey camembert on pieces of fresh baguette or slicing some cantal straight into your mouth, this is the perfect post-Olympic rush activity. 

Don’t bother arguing, this is officially the best cheese in the world

Don’t bother arguing, this is officially the best cheese in the world

by Danielle Kirk May 31, 2019

10. Seek out the Emily in Paris filming locations

The Paris Olympics are set to be iconic for sure, but let’s not forget the other Parisian icon: Emily! So, if you’re a fan of the hit Netflix show Emily in Paris, then you know what you have to do. Hit the town in search of all the filming locations like the Cafe Terra Nera, the Palais Garnier home to ballets and operas, and the Latin Quarter full of amazing energy and delicious eats.

Following the list of Emily in Paris filming locations will take you all over Paris and let you explore it from a whole new angle, and visit areas that may not have been on your itinerary otherwise! And don’t forget to take a selfie at each stop.

Don’t want to go to Paris but still want to engage in the Olympic fun? Take this quiz to find out which sport you are and where you should travel to instead!

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