Tourism For Members

Should I avoid France during the Olympics?

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Should I avoid France during the Olympics?
The Olympics Rings on the Trocadero Esplanade near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

While many fans will be flocking to the Paris 2024 Olympics in July and August, others are wondering whether to avoid France altogether while the Games are on. From prices to crowds, The Local takes a look at the travel situation for non-fans.


Paris is currently stepping up preparation for the 2024 Games, which run from July 26th - August 11th for the Olympics and Aug 28th - September 8th for the Paralympics).

The highest estimates believe that city could welcome around 15 million visitors during the Games - while that is a lot, it's worth noting that approximately 9.9 million visitors came to the city of light during the summer of 2023.

And it's likely that some travellers will avoid Paris entirely during the summer Games - but is it really necessary to avoid France altogether in the summer of 2024?

Travel prices

During the Olympic period, tickets to and from France may be more expensive than usual, though many routes were still offering average seasonal prices as of December 2023.


Flights - Taking the example of New York City to Paris for a 10-day round trip during the Games (July 26 to August 5th), according to Google Flights, the average price (€821) was within seasonal norms.

However, prices for flights from London to Paris were considered 'higher than average' for the same period (€191, which is outside the usual range of €80 - €155). 

Google Flights ranked Berlin-Paris, Tokyo-Paris and round trip tickets for this period to be 'typical', meanwhile Sydney-Paris round trip tickets were actually 'lower than average' (as of December 2023).

READ MORE: New flight routes to France in 2024

Trains - If you want to get to France by train, Eurostar plans to add an additional service between London and Paris on Fridays and Sundays of each week during the Games to service higher demand.

Tickets for the Eurostar during the Olympic period went on sale in November. In terms of price, according to Rail Europe, Eurostar tickets 30 days in advance usually cost around €147, or €127 if you book 7 days in advance. As of December 2023, there were still several tickets available during the Olympic period at these prices.

France's national rail service, SNCF, also announced plans to launch a cheaper, slower speed train (three hours instead of the high-speed one and a half) to connect Paris and Brussels starting in July 2024.

As for train tickets inside of France, SNCF usually puts them on sale about four months in advance, so it is not yet clear if some prices will be higher than average.

However, France's transport minister, Clément Beaune, has announced that train ticket prices specifically for Intercités (classic, non-high speed lines connecting cities) and Ouigo (the low-cost high speed rail service) services would not increase in price next year. 

Beaune also intends to introduce France's version of the German €49-a-month train ticket by summer 2024. This would allow users to have unlimited use of TER and Intercités trains, and would be similarly priced to the German plan.

Car - For those taking the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais, standard fares are usually around £115 per vehicle each way. Looking ahead to summer 2024, prices were still available in this range as of December 2023.

Olympic events

The 2024 Olympics will not be entirely confined to Paris - the cities of Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Bordeaux, Nantes and Marseille are also Olympic sites in 2024.

Most will host football matches in stadiums. The largest Olympic city aside from Paris will be Marseille, which will host the sailing events. 

That said, the majority of events will be in Paris, so the visitor experience will be very different depending on whether you are in the capital or not.


Outside Paris

If you want to plan a trip to France next summer - be that the Alps, the Mediterranean or Atlantic coast or the French countryside - your experience may not be too different from an average year, especially if you book in advance.

You will also want to keep in mind that getting to other parts of France might involve passing through the Paris region, especially if you are travelling internationally by plane or train.

Accommodation - Check ahead of time which days Olympic events will be held in the city you want to visit - those dates may sell out more quickly than others.

When looking at prices - based on AirBnB results in December 2023, the cost for an average nightly stay in Marseille during the last week of June (around €102) showed little difference with first week of the Olympics (around €110).


By comparison, the website Combien Coute estimates that the average summer price for a three-star hotel in Marseille in 2023 was about €110. also showed several results in this range during the first week of the Olympics, as of December.

Similarly, AirBnBs in Bordeaux and Nice showed a difference of about €20-€25 when comparing the last week of June with the first week of the Olympics, while Lyon did not show any difference. 

This price change is also typical for the start of the summer holidays (late June) versus the peak season in mid-late July.

Accommodation in rural France or the mountains showed no difference. 

While you might notice a bit of Olympic buzz and a few bars screening events, it's unlikely that the Games will have much of an impact on visits to places other than the capital. 


What to expect in and around Paris

The number of visitors in the capital city is expected to be higher than the average summer, but it is worth noting that nearly two thirds of all Olympics tickets sales sold in the first round were to buyers in France.

Paris is always quite crowded in the summer, but it will likely be more crowded than usual in 2024.

Public transport - The city has taken steps to adapt to this to the crowds - public transportation options, like the Metro, will be available at more frequent intervals. 

A fleet of around 1,000 buses will also be commissioned to transport the 200,000 'accredited persons' (athletes, judges, journalists, etc). Transport authorities have also promised to triple the number of adapted taxis for people with disabilities. 

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: How accessible is Paris for people with disabilities?

A new translation app, Tradivia, will be launched help Metro operators respond to queries in different languages.

Security - one of the features of the Paris 2024 Games is that many events will take place in the city centre, often utilising already available sites like the Place de la Concorde, Champs-de-Mars and the Grand Palais (plus the opening ceremony along the River Seine).

For this reason there will be extra security measures within the city centre. Final details are still being tweaked, but the provisional security plan has now been revealed.


The actual event sites will be open only to people with tickets and other accredited people. 

Around the event sites there will be security zones with limits on entry for vehicles - it's worth noting that the red and blue security zones outlined below do not affect pedestrians and cyclists.

The only exception to this is on the evening of Friday, July 26th when the opening ceremony is taking place (more on that later). 


The areas mapped above are divided into grey, red and blue. Grey denotes event venues, only open to people with tickets.

Red zones are closed to all vehicles and motorbikes, with the exception of local residents, those visiting sick/ vulnerable people, emergency and rescue services - these people will register for a special QR code. This does not affect people walking or cycling through these areas.

To enter a blue zone in a vehicle or on a motorbike, people must provide justification eg delivery drivers.

Metro stations in these areas may be closed or temporarily closed, although Metro lines will continue to run, but without stopping at certain stations.


Restrictions on driving in these areas will be in place 2.5 hours before the start of events and up to one hour afterwards (in central Paris, this could mean from 6.30am to midnight).

Taxis and ride-shares (VTCs, like Uber) will be able to operate in these zones, as long as they can show required documentation.

The final details of the security operation for the opening ceremony are still being finalised, but it is likely that the restricted zones will be extended during the ceremony on July 26th.

'Grey areas' during the opening ceremony will be extended, and those who live in buildings along the opening ceremony may have to register guests with local authorities.

Higher prices - Those visiting during the Games will also pay a higher price for public transport. Between July 20th and September 8th, the price of a single ticket - which can be used on the Metro, buses, RER trains or trams - will go up to €4, in contrast to the €2.10 it costs currently, and purchasing a 10 tickets at once (a carnet) will increase from €16.90 to €32 during the Games. This does not affect residents with a travel pass or monthly card, or people who buy tickets in advance.

The cost for hotel stays in and around Paris is also expected to increase very substantially during the Games.

According to Paris deputy mayor in charge of tourism Frédéric Hocquard, the average price of one night in a hotel in Paris will be €699 during the Olympic Games, compared with €169 in July 2023, an increase of 314 percent. 

As for the suburbs, hotel stays will likely be cheaper, though higher than their seasonal norms. According to the listing site, Kayak, a stay in Saint Denis would be closer to €282 to €396 per night.

Closures - some popular tourist sites are acting as event host sites during the Games and will therefore be closed for some or all of the Games period. This includes the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais and Place de la Concorde. Other tourist sites that are not connected to the Games are expected to open as normal, although full details are yet to be finalised. 


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