In the summer of 2024, Paris’ flashy new Olympic facilities will compete with traffic chaos, security crackdowns, and price hikes. Here’s how to navigate Paris even if you’re not attending the Summer Games.
After failing several times in recent decades to win the Games, Paris ultimately landed them by pitching an original twist. Instead of being confined to dedicated sporting venues, many events will be held at Paris’s most iconic sites, including archery at Les Invalides, skateboarding in Place de la Concorde, and beach volleyball beneath the Eiffel Tower. The River Seine will also feature prominently, first during the opening ceremonies, when 10,000 athletes are expected to sail on it aboard 170 boats, and later for some aquatic competitions.
In a spirit of sportsmanship, the city will also share events around the rest of France, including soccer in Nice to Nantes, sailing off the Marseille coastline, and surfing in French Polynesia, half the world away.
Paris goes for gold
Still recovering from lower visitor numbers during Covid, hospitality professionals are gearing up for a busy and profitable summer. Many businesses plan to forego their usual annual August vacation closures.
“We plan on being open for the duration of the Games, which is likely the case for most restaurants in tourist districts or in the north of the city,” says Philippine Jaillet of Le Boréal, a restaurant behind the northern Paris neighborhood of Montmartre. “I also think restaurants, like ours, will expand their hours and not have their usual afternoon closures.”
The hospitality industry will be an obvious winner. It benefits from an influx of visitors. But many Parisian residents plan to flee for the duration of the event.
Even beyond the usual traffic chaos and difficulty in producing tickets to Olympic events, staying in Paris in 2024 will be more challenging than it is most summers.
A local furor arose last summer when the city announced, for security reasons, the temporary removal of Les Bouquinistes, the beloved booksellers along the riverbanks. A whopping €1.4 billion (US $1.52 million) in taxpayer funds has been poured into cleaning up the Seine to make it safe for triathlon swimmers.
Most recently, red flags were waved over the environmental impact of the surfing event on the Tahitian shores.
As with any large-scale international event, there are silver linings for citizens, so despite these controversies, according to a recent survey, 72% of the French support the Games.
Getting tickets and accommodation for the Paris Olympics
In November 2023, Law Enforcement officials announced that security plans were on track. These include an unprecedented 35,000 police officers deployed for the opening ceremony and the installation of hundreds of new surveillance cameras.
Access to the security zone around events will require a QR code that will be active for 2.5 hours before each event and 1 hour afterward. The code will be printed on event tickets, issued by hotels within the perimeter, and dispensed from a digital government platform as of March or April.
(credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock)
In addition, various Métro (subway) stops, particularly ones near events, will also be closed, forcing visitors to travel above ground to the restricted zones.
The police haven’t specified the full list of Métro stop closures, which will change according to security needs, but a few stops have already been confirmed to close. Those several in the prime tourist zone: Concorde, Champs-Élysées–Clemenceau, Invalides, and Tuileries. Real-time updates will be available on the official RATP website.
The preparation for the security zones will begin in June, so allocate extra time to getting around if you’re visiting Paris before the events.
Alternatively, you can buy hospitality packages that include tickets and tickets for the Paralympics more readily.
Around 300,000 free tickets to opening ceremony will be released by lottery; check the City of Paris website for dates.
Visitors who haven’t booked their accommodation should act soon, bearing in mind that rates will be 30–50% higher than usual.
“We still have some rooms available,” says Gerald Krischek, director general of the Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris. “But we’re confident we’ll have an excellent occupancy rate during the Games.”
Apartment rentals are also going fast, according to Gail Boisclair, manager of rental service Perfectly Paris.
“There will be a lot of owners renting out for the first time, so I recommend booking with a property management company, like the members of the SPLM, the French rental federation, which my company belongs to,” adds Boisclair. “ You may also want to stay close to the venues of events you’re attending, or near automated Métro lines 1, 4, or 14 to mitigate travel delays.”
Getting around Paris for the Olympics
Paris vehicle access will be heavily restricted during the Games, so give yourself ample time to reach events.
Taxi and ride-share apps, especially the locally popular Bolt and Free Now, could come in handy or you might want to book some car services in advance either through your hotel or local companies like Easy Cab.
(credit: Louis Darp / Shutterstock)
The Greater Métropolitan Parisian transit system (a rechargeable fare card is pictured above), Île-de-France Mobilités, will double single ticket prices from July 20 to September 8, from €2.10 to €4. Tickets for buses and the RER commuter train will also increase during the Games to €4 (US $ 4.35) and €6 (US $6.50) a ride, respectively.
Locals are being advised to stock up on transit tickets in advance and visitors might be able to as well, since virtual passes will finally be available via its app as of spring. Otherwise, if you plan on taking the Métro frequently, unlimited day passes will be €16 (US $17.39), decreasing a euro per day during the Olympics for multi-day passes.
The most economical way to get around, besides on foot, is the city’s booming bike share scheme, Vélib (pictured below), with 30-minute rides starting at €3 (US $3.30) and 24-hour passes at €5 (US $5.50; electric bikes are slightly more).
(credit: Victor Velter / Shutterstock)
How to explore Paris despite the Olympics
As the areas around major monuments will be complicated to access and tickets to major attractions are likely to sell out, Dr. Taylor-Leduc, founder of boutique tour company Picturesque Voyages, advises visiting Paris by foot and taking ticketless tours as much as possible.
“A themed neighborhood tour offers a chance to move away from the city center and discover different areas, such as Art Nouveau architecture in the 16th arrondissement,” suggests Dr Taylor-Leduc. “Touring gardens, such as the Luxembourg, Buttes-Chaumont, or Parc Monceau, will offer respite from the crowds, as will visiting smaller museums, like the Marmottan-Monet or Carnavalet.”
Click here for some of Frommer’s recommended escorted and guided tours of Paris. Taking a guided tour will make it more likely that you’ll be able adapt your sightseeing to the changes, and many tours take care of ticketing for you.
Just as the Olympics organizers are scheduling events around the country, visitors may want to incorporate other French destinations into their Paris 2024 itinerary to avoid the mayhem. Train tickets for destinations elsewhere in France are available 4 months in advance on SNCF Connect.
Restaurants should be booked ahead as much as possible as well.
“Given the visitor influx, food lovers should book tables in advance as it’ll be challenging to find a table at good restaurants last minute,” advises Jaillet. Eating well is, of course, an unofficial sport at which the Parisian excel.
Visitors who don’t have reservations or prefer spontaneity can always get a satisfying steak frites or croque monsieur at a brasserie, the ubiquitous Parisian eateries that serve casual cuisine non-stop throughout the day. Those will be running as usual without a requirement for advance plans.