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31 things to do in Paris during the 2024 Olympics

Explore the sparkling boulevards and cobblestone streets of the City of Light, a place where art, culture and history collide to create the world’s most romantic destination. These are the best things to do in Paris during the 2024 Olympics.

A world leader in art, fashion, food and culture, Paris is one of the most-visited destinations in the world. Luxury maisons such as Dior, Chanel and Lanvin all hail from the 2000-year-old city, and artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir have all called Paris home. From croissants and croque-monsieurs to macarons and baguettes, the picturesque city specialises in foodie favourites and sweet treats. Whether you’re a history buff following the museum trail, a fashionista ready for retail therapy, or a traveller ticking famous monuments off your bucket list, Paris is a city for all people.

This July, the City of Light will host the Olympics for the third time, the 2024 Summer Games taking over the French capital from 26 July to 11 August. While the sporting event is the main drawcard of the European summer, we’ve pulled together an inspiring list of things to do in Paris during the Olympic Games to keep your sporting itinerary balanced with food, culture and design.

1. Go to the Olympic Opening Ceremony

Taking place along the banks of the River Seine on Friday 26 July at 8:24 pm (20:24 in 24-hour time), the summer games opening ceremony will be the first to take place outside a stadium. The six-kilometre stretch from Pont d’Austerlitz to the Trocadéro opposite the Eiffel Tower will be open to spectators, with delegates arriving on boats and congregating at Pont d’Iéna for the grand finale. Ticket prices range from €90 to €2700 ( AUD$147 to $4406), plus up to 500,000 free tickets are expected to be available for seating areas along the upper quays of the Seine soon.

2. Watch the 2024 Olympic Summer Games

The 45 sporting events for the 2024 Olympics will be held across 35 venues in Paris and its neighbouring locales. While the Stade de France in Saint-Denis will transform into the Olympic Stadium for the 16-day extravaganza, competitions will also be held at locations in Versailles, Le Bourget, Nanterre and Vaires-sur-Marne, plus two new venues, Port de La Chapelle Area in the 18th arrondissement and the Aquatics Centre in Saint-Denis, which were built for specifically for the games.

3. Ascend the Eiffel Tower

Designed by architect Gustave Eiffel and built from 1887 to 1889, the Eiffel Tower is 330 metres tall and has three floors: the first, second and summit. More than seven million people ascend the tower each year, which was the tallest building in the world until the Empire State Building dethroned it in 1931 at 381 metres tall. Visiting the Eiffel Tower is one of the best things to do in Paris. Walk across the glass floor, rest on the terrace, or dine at Madame Brasserie on the first level. Dine at Michelin-starred Jules Verne or take in the view from the second floor and see Gustave Eiffel’s office at the summit.

The Eiffel Tower and River Seine
The Eiffel Tower © Adobe Stock

4. Find the best views of the Eiffel Tower

Have you really been to Paris if you don’t have a photo of the Eiffel Tower? You can find the best viewpoints here:

  • Place du Trocadero
  • Rue de l’Université
  • Promenade Marie de Roumanie
  • Parc du Champ-de-Mars
  • Pont Alexandre III Bridge
  • Arc de Triomphe

5. Stop by Cathédrale Notre-Dame

This 14th-century medieval Catholic cathedral presides over the River Seine from Île de la Cité. Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and synonymous with the city landscape, Notre Dame is currently undergoing restorations after a fire tore through it in 2019, but is set to reopen in December 2024.

6. Roam the streets of Montemarte to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Located in Paris’ 18th Arrondissement, Montmartre is a hillside neighbourhood known for its artistic and bohemian history. Filled with picturesque streets, shops, restaurants and cafes, walking the streets of Montmartre is one of the best things to do in Paris. It’s also where you’ll find Sacré-Cœur Basilica perched at the butte of the summit. Easily identifiable for its white domes and impressive design, this Roman Catholic church was built in 1875 and has sweeping views of the city from its terrace.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral © Adobe Stock

7. Climb the Arc de Triomphe

First-time visitors to Paris often rush to climb the Eiffel Tower; however, you’ll get a much better payoff by walking towards the western end of the Champs-Élysées to ascend the stairs at the Arc de Triomphe. The rooftop attraction overlooks the Champs Elysee and offers a skyline view that includes the Eiffel Tower. Positioned at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, it’s the ultimate photo spot.

8. Stroll the gardens

Those seeking a green space in the heart of the city should add Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Carrousel and Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil to their list of things to do in Paris. Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil recently added six new greenhouses.

9. Seek out Saint Chapelle

Built in 1248 in Gothic style, the medieval Sainte-Chapelle is hidden away within Palais de la Cité. Famous for its spectacular stained-glass windows, relics and concerts, it’s a monument worth finding.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica Paris
Sacré-Cœur Basilica © Adobe Stock

10. Cross Pont Neuf

Spanning the River Seine from the western face of Île de la Cité, the 16th-century Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river. The bridge is an excellent vantage point for both the left and right banks of the Seine, with views towards the island, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Pont de Arts and La Samaritaine.

11. Buy a book from Shakespeare & Company

Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, Shakespeare & Company is the most famous bookstore in Paris. The English-language new-and-used retailer has a café and writer-in-residence initiative. While this address isn’t the original Shakespeare & Company – that was owned by Sylvia Beach from 1919 to 1941 and was rumoured to be frequented by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald – this iteration on the Left Bank is inspired by Beach’s boutique.

12. See the Panthéon

Commissioned by King Louis XV, the Panthéon was built in the Latin Quarter in 1790 as a church to house the relic of St. Genevieve. This stunning neoclassical building has Gothic architectural elements and showcases breathtaking frescoes, mosaics and paintings depicting Saint Genevieve, key moments of French history and scenes from the revolution.

Arc de Triomphe aerial
Arc de Triomphe © Adobe Stock

13. Visit the Grand Palais

This 1897 historic Belle Epoque palace on the river bank may be closed until July 2024, but the exhibition and event space will soon return to its usual programming. One of the best things to do in Paris is walk through the venue to take in the impressive domed glass roof and Art Nouveau ironwork, then stop at the Nave, National Galleries and the Palais de la Découverte.

14. Join at tour of Palais Garnier

Built at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III and completed in 1875, Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier, found fame when it became the setting for Gaston Leroux’s book, Phantom of the Opera, in 1911. Join a tour to discover the opulent gilded interiors accented with crystal chandeliers and spectacular frescoes, then grab tickets to whatever opera is in season for the full experience.

15. Explore Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Stopping by a cemetery may be one of the more macabre things to do in Paris, but Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is a serene, leafy sanctuary characterised by beautiful resting places of notable figures such as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison. It’s the largest cemetery in Paris and is the most visited necropolis in the world.

Inside the Panthéon Paris
Inside the Panthéon © Adobe Stock

16. Brave the catacombs

Hidden 20 metres beneath the picturesque streets of Paris’ 14th arrondissement is a labyrinth of underground ossuaries lined with the bones of more than six million Parisians. Once a quarry, these tunnels are now the resting place of bodies that had to be removed from the city’s cemeteries due to overcrowding in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a fascinating and chilling experience.

17. Pick up a souvenir from the markets

Travellers visiting the City of Light are spoilt for choice when it comes to food, antiques and flea markets. Trawling through the treasures of local makers and growers is one of the best things to do in Paris, particularly if you’re looking for a unique souvenir or pocket-friendly food stop.

  • Artisanal food, producers and luxe restaurants: Marche de Enfants Rouges
  • Biggest antique and flea market in the world: Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
  • Cheap food and bric-a-brac: Marché d’Aligre
  • Wholesale food: Marché International de Rungis
  • Flowers and birds: Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
  • Thrifting: Les Puces de Montreuil
  • Books: Les Bouquinistes

18. Go to the cabaret

Tourists flock to the Moulin Rouge for dinner and a crowd-pleasing show, but those in the know head towards Les Crazy Horse Saloon, which has a reputation for delivering an adults-only cabaret and burlesque show.

Pont des Arts
Pont des Arts © Adobe Stock

19. Read in the Oval Room

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a quiet moment, or read that book you bought from Shakespeare & Company, at The Oval Room in Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Richelieu. The room is open to all, free to enter and utterly beautiful. It’s one of the lesser-known things to do in Paris.

20. Hike the Petite Ceinture

The Little Belt, or Petite Ceinture, is an abandoned railway line in Paris. Defunct since 1934, it’s now a pleasant and easygoing hike with abundant greenery and gardens sprinkled along the track. While there are sections with long and dark tunnels, it’s a popular trail for cyclists and joggers. Petite Ceinture is accessible from Villa du Bel Air near Porte de Vincennes, with access points in arrondissements 12-20.

21. Walk (then shop) the Promenade Plantée

Promenade Plantée is a three-mile-long elevated greenway set atop an abandoned 18th-century viaduct in the 12th arrondissement. The rooftop walkway is filled with trees, foliage, flowers and water features, all 10 metres above street level, while each of the viaducts archways below are now home to 45 showrooms for local makers, crafters and artisans.

Inside Palais Garnier
Inside Palais Garnier © Adobe Stock

22. Shop ‘til you drop

The French capital is the epicentre of fashion, and shopping is one the essential things to do in Paris. Whether you’re perusing high-street, boutique, luxury or haute couture, there’s something to suit every taste. Get started at department stores such as Le Bon Marché, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette; move on to the Golden Triangle of Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V; then further on to the Haussmann-Opéra-Saint-Lazare quarter.

23. Immerse yourself in the sounds of Philharmonie de Paris

Architecturally impressive inside and out, the Philharmonie de Paris was designed by prolific creator Jean Nouvel and is dedicated to all things music, from concerts, exhibitions and conferences to instrumental practice and more. Stroll the complex to gander at the architecture, then head to the rooftop for panoramic views of Greater Paris.

24. Step into a cabinet of curiosities

Specialising in taxidermy and entomology since 1831, Deyrolle is a shop and museum showcasing fossils, insect specimens and preserved animals. Deyrolle is one of those strange yet alluring things to do in Paris that will please those who enjoy natural history museums.

Philharmonie de Paris building
Philharmonie de Paris © Adobe Stock

25. Check out Halle Saint-Pierre

Hidden at the foot of Montmartre is a pop-culture space that serves as a museum, gallery, bookshop, auditorium and cafe. The building is a beauty by architect Victor Baltard and was once a covered market, with metal framework and skylights and. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of underground, alternative and graphic art, with similar publications and exhibitions. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, cyberpunk and oddities, Halle Saint-Pierre is the place for you.

26. Enjoy your café au lait sans crowds

Hidden away on Winston Churchill Avenue in the heart of the Petit Palais museum is the Café Jardin du Petit Palais, a circular garden space with a fountain, palm trees and a refined atmosphere.

27. Follow the museum trail

Regardless of your medium, a museum or gallery caters to every art form in Paris, from fine art and sculpture to contemporary and digital artworks, or historical specimens, relics and artefacts.

  • General art: Musée de Louvre, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Musée d’Orsay and The Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute)
  • Modern & contemporary: Centre Pompidou
  • Works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin: Musée Rodin
  • Modern & contemporary: Palais de Tokyo & Musée d’Art Moderne
  • Impressionist & post-impressionist: Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Fashion: Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris
  • Life and work of Picasso: Musée Picasso Paris
  • Indigenous art of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas: Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac
  • Nature & history: The National Museum of Natural History
Galeries Lafayette
Galeries Lafayette © Adobe Stock/AG Creative Lab

28. Disneyland Paris

Families and Disney fans should seize the opportunity to spend a day at Disneyland Paris. Located 32 kilometres from the centre of Paris, the park is served by RER trains from Nation and Châtelet stations and takes around 35 minutes to get to Disneyland Resort Paris (Chessy). Comprised of two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, there’s enough to keep the whole family entertained for the day.

29. Cruise on the Seine

One of the best things to do in Paris is a cruise along the River Seine. See the city from a new perspective onboard a Bateaux Mouches, an open excursion boat that sails the Seine and Parisian canals such as the partially subterranean Canal Saint-Martin.

30. Marvel at the skyline from Montparnasse Tower

The only skyscraper in Paris has a panoramic observation deck on the 56th floor. It’s one of the best things to do in Paris and on a clear day, visitors can see up to 40km away. Take your view to the next level by stepping onto the rooftop terrace, then grab a bite to eat at the on-site cafe.

Inside Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck
Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck © Adobe Stock /Benny Marty

31. Do a day trip

Escape the city to see a different side of France. See life through the eyes of royals at the 17th-century Palace of Versailles was home to the Royal Court for around a century. Famed for its Hall of Mirrors, expansive gardens and artworks, the Palace of Versailles is an easy one-hour trip from Paris on an RER C train to Chateau rive Gauche train station. Then, just follow the crowds to the palace.

Provins is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed fortified medieval town an hour and a half from Paris. Known for its historic buildings, monuments, museums and gardens, Provins is an easy day trip from Paris via Transilien train from Paris l’Est.

Read more:
Best patisseries in Paris
Louis Vuitton opens a new culinary destination in Saint-Tropez
25 dream experiences across France
Stay inside the Palace of Versailles at Le Grand Contrôle

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