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Paris Olympics Calling? What You Need to Know to Travel to the Games

The latest information on flights, lodging and tickets for the 2024 Olympics

spinner image Aerial rendition of Paris with Eiffel tower and Seine river for opening 2024 Olympic ceremonies
The parade of athletes will sail along the Seine River in Paris for the opening ceremony, as seen in this rendering.
pawel.gaul

The 2024 Paris Olympics is less than a year away. Like the athletes, travelers need to prepare well in advance of the Olympics to make it to the Games. As many as 15.9 million people are expected to visit the Paris area during the July-September period that includes the Olympics and Paralympic Games, according to the Associated Press. Many events are already sold out, and bookings for flight and lodgings are well underway. If you’re thinking about a visit to the Games, you should start your travel planning now to try to secure a gold-medal-worthy experience next summer in France. 

“We have been working on itineraries for months,” says travel adviser Martha King of the Avenue Two Travel network. “I am seeing a lot of interest from [multigenerational] families who want to experience the Olympics together.”

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Whether you’re considering a big family trip to the Olympics, or just want to fly out there yourself, here’s the latest information on what you need to know about travel to the Games in France next summer, including dates, event venues, game tickets, lodging and other travel essentials.

spinner image The Track and field events will take place at the Stade de France.
Track and field events will take place at the Stade de France.
Stade de France

When and where are the Paris Olympic events?

The 2024 Summer Olympic Games will take place from July 24 to Aug. 11, with the Paralympics being held from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8.

Paris will host the bulk of the Olympic events at 25 venues spread around the city and the adjacent Île-de-France region, with marquee track and field events held at the 77,000-seat Stade de France. Eight additional cities throughout France also will host events, mainly for soccer, basketball and other team sport qualifying games. Marseille, on the Mediterranean, is the scenic setting for sailing events. Appropriately, the grounds of Versailles will be the venue for the aristocratic competitions of equestrian and pentathlon. Anti-royalists can enjoy skateboarding, BMX racing and break dancing, new for 2024, at the Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in 1793. Even the French territory of Tahiti gets into the act, hosting the Olympic surfing competition.

spinner image Sailors practice in the southern Mediterranean city of Marseille
Sailors practice in the southern Mediterranean city of Marseille, which will host sailing events during the 2024 Olympic Games.
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

In an Olympic first, the opening ceremonies will take place on a river! The parade of national athletes will sail along the Seine on July 26 with at least 600,000 spectators able to gather to watch the procession.

spinner image Tony Estanguet (left), president of Paris 2024 and former sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica hold the Olympic torch during a Pre-Olympic tour along the Seine River
Tony Estanguet (left), president of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and former sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica hold the Olympic torch during a Pre-Olympic tour along the Seine River on July 25, 2023.
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

Prior to the Games, the Olympic torch relay will run — and sail — from May 8 in Marseille to the opening ceremony in Paris on July 26, with stops at French territories in the Caribbean and South Pacific. Visiting France before the Olympics to watch part of the torch relay could be a fun way to get into the Olympic spirit while on a regular vacation.

How to get tickets for Olympic events

While individual tickets to many Olympic events are already sold out (including track and field), organizers recently made more tickets available. Spectators can purchase tickets via the official Olympic ticketing website. The bulk of tickets remaining on the official site are for team events outside of Paris. If you’re a team handball fan, you’re in luck! Americans do still have the opportunity to buy tickets to watch the U.S. soccer and basketball teams through the preliminary rounds. But since teams haven’t yet been assigned groups or locations, you’ll be buying tickets for random games. On the plus side, group stage soccer tickets begin at just $26.

spinner image The Champ de Mars Arena is rendered in a wheelchair rugby configuration.
The Paralympics will be held from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8 in Paris. Here, the Champ de Mars Arena is rendered in a wheelchair rugby configuration.
Paris 2024/Architecte: Willmotte & Associes

Another option for purchasing tickets is to reserve “hospitality packages” in luxury suites at stadiums and at private areas in other venues. These packages are still available for track and field and other high-demand events, but the starting price is about $1,167 per person per ticket for a few hours of athletics and Champagne at Stade de France.

Travel packages, which include lodging and ticket combinations, are available for purchase through Olympics partner On Location, simplifying the search for nearby hotels and potentially securing access to previously sold-out events.

For the opening ceremony boat parade, paid seating (most of it is already sold out) will be set up along the Seine’s lower banks and bridges. But spectators can freely line the upper banks of the river or watch some of the 80 giant screen video monitors placed along the 3.7-mile route. Yes, something’s actually free at the Olympics! Or you can still book a premium bridge-top hospitality suite ticket for the event at $12,370, including tax. 

Secondary ticket sellers like Ticombo and private scalpers are currently offering re-sold event tickets at premium prices, but purchasers should be aware of potential fraud and future Olympic Committee efforts to block such sales. The official Olympics website says it will open its own reselling platform in the spring.

How to get there and how to get around

Flight planning

Travel this summer has been expensive. Flight tickets to France during high season from the U.S. are usually sold at a premium, and expect them to be even more so during the Olympics. Roundtrip nonstop flights between New York (JFK) and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) during the Olympics on Air France are currently priced beginning at about $1,515. 

Consider using a discount carrier such as French bee to fly to Orly (ORY) airport in Paris (and to Tahiti for Olympic surf fans).

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“We anticipate immense demand for flights to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics in the coming months,” says Thomas Renault, French bee’s U.S. head of sales. He added that French bee currently has “fares as low as $231 one-way from [Newark] (EWR) to Paris [ORY] and $396 one-way from San Francisco to Paris in July and August 2024.” He does “anticipate higher pricing due to demand” in the months ahead.

Consider flying into an alternate airport, either within France or a bordering country, and take a train to Paris. Iceland Air currently has good deals between the U.S. and France during the Olympics period (beginning at about $675 roundtrip). These tickets do require a stopover in Iceland, which is not altogether a bad thing. JetBlue launched new nonstop service between JFK and CDG this summer, and affordable introductory deals are still available.

Arrival preparation

In 2024, the European Union is planning to implement ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System), a new entry requirement process for France and 29 other European countries. Visitors will have to complete an application form and pay a 7 euro (about $7.60) fee for stays of up to 90 days. The specific start date for ETIAS is still unknown; travelers should consult the official ETIAS website for the latest information prior to departure.  ​

Be sure to check your passport expiration date well in advance of any planned travel. Given current 10- to 13-week delays in passport processing (and seven- to nine-week wait times for “expedited processing”), anyone considering a trip to France with an expiring passport should take the first step of filing to renew or apply for a new passport at least three months in advance of planned travel.

spinner image public transit is the preferred mode of transportation during the Paris 2024 Olympics
Using public transit might be a better way to get around Paris during the Olympics.
RICOWde/Getty Images

Transport within France

Olympic organizers have promised public transit availability to all event venues, but implementation is still a work in progress. The Olympic website currently says, “existing route planner applications … do not represent the transportation plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” and that planners are “working with public transport companies to increase the number of vehicles in service and to set up shuttles to reach some competition venues that are difficult to access.”

Despite these public transit challenges, it is still a far better option than attempting to rent a car in Paris during the Games, given costs, traffic and parking concerns. However, for stadium events in farther-flung cities with existing parking, car rental may be a good option, particularly if you’re staying somewhere outside of town.

The Olympic website has posted a Paris transport time planning tool to calculate expected time estimates needed for visitors to get between locations (including venues, airports and train stations) during the Olympics. Closer to the start of the Games, visitors will be able to download an updated travel app with links to transport options, schedules and pricing.

Long-distance train travel in France and throughout Europe is an efficient and affordable option to get to the Games or travel between cities hosting events. Non-European visitors can purchase a Eurail Pass good for unlimited train travel for the duration of the pass (either throughout Europe or just in France). It’s a good money-saver for multiple inter-city trips. Eurail also offers a 10 percent off Senior Pass for passengers 60 and older. The passes are generally not usable for intracity subway or metro lines.

Summer heat and other Olympic challenges

It’s been a hot summer in Europe, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees in Paris, and it will probably be hot next summer as well. When booking lodging during the Olympics, be sure to note whether it includes air conditioning. While international four- and five-star hotel brands almost always have air conditioning, many smaller hotels and Airbnb-style private accommodations do not. Regardless of air conditioning, travelers to Paris next summer should take steps to protect themselves in the summer heat

For mobility-challenged travelers, Olympic organizers have dedicated sections of wheelchair-accessible seating at events (with the right to purchase a companion ticket as well). Event venues will have official accessible drop-off zones and priority entry lines. While the French government has promised increased accessibility infrastructure, recent public protests indicate frustration about delays in this process.

Visitors also should be mindful of potential tourist scams during the Olympics, given that the huge influx of travelers will probably attract Olympic-level scam artists.

Strategies for finding lodging during the Olympics

“Availability for hotels and villas is becoming very limited,” says King, of Avenue Two Travel. “We encourage anyone who is considering going to Paris for the Olympics to reach out as soon as possible.”

Booking a combined lodging and ticket package through the Olympic website is one good way to secure a quality place to stay near an event venue. Packages range from one- to six-night stays in three- to five-star properties. Want a five-star hotel with prime event tickets and hospitality suites for a week-long stay? That’ll set you back about $40,000 per person. A one-night stay at a three-star property including tickets to a single event begins at about $530 per person. 

“We cannot deny there will be some pressures on hotel room prices at the time of Paris 2024,” says Agnès Angrand, deputy director USA of Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency. For example, the five-star Intercontinental Hotel Champs Elysées is currently charging upward of $1,500 per night during the Games. But given that there are “over 130,000 hotel rooms in Paris-Île-de-France,” Angrand says, finding affordable lodging is still possible. It’s still fairly easy to find three-star Paris accommodations during the Olympics for below $200 per night, albeit at some distance from city center. If you can find lodging near public transit, you may be able to score good savings at a property farther from central Paris, but still with a reasonable commute to event venues. 

Given that many Parisians leave town during the summer months, more may do so to escape the chaos of the Olympics. With that in mind, there could be a good supply of private Airbnb and Vrbo rentals available. According to Airbnb, there has been an “unprecedented” surge in demand for bookings during the Olympics, but that as of early June “more than 75 percent of Hosts in the participating cities have not yet opened their calendar for these dates.”

Don’t lose hope if you’re not yet able to find a good Airbnb option. Do your research on your desired locations and amenities, and you may be able to pick up good rental deals in the months ahead. Be sure to read reviews of the host and property to help avoid scams or disappointments. 

One important note for lodging and overall trip planning: Because many prime accommodations and tours are requiring full payment in advance, King says, “it’s critical to have travel insurance to make sure you are covered in the event you [have] to cancel for a covered reason.”

Whether you’re dedicated to seeing popular Olympic finals, or just want to get to France to soak in the atmosphere and maybe catch an event, you’ll want to start planning your trip for next summer as soon as possible. Prices may be high, the logistics may be difficult, but the reward is attending a once-in-a-lifetime event in the “City of Light,” which should shine bright during the Games.​​

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