Visit France during the Paris Olympics in 2024

cultural events in France

“Combine muscle and mind!” said Pierre de Coubertin. 

Paris and the whole of France are pulling out all the stops to do just that for 2024 as the French capital hosts the Olympic Games. Aside from sporting events throughout the land, how are towns and cities in mainland France and overseas territories celebrating the Olympics? Are there any cultural events for people visiting France to experience the Olympic theme with locals? 

Let’s take you on an Olympic tour of France… 

The Olympics are being held in towns all over France and its overseas territories.

Paris is turning into an arena for the games! The sporting events will be even more spectacular playing out in legendary venues and some of the best landmarks in Paris and France. 

Team games will put the spotlight on several cities in France: the football tournament will be held in stadiums in Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille. The men’s and women’s handball finals will play out in Lille. In terms of water sports, the sailing events will hit the Mediterranean Sea in Marseille whilst the surfing elite will ride the best waves in the world at Teahupo’o in Tahiti…

Events in exceptional locations: Versailles goes Olympic

The Château de Versailles will host equestrian events for the 2024 Olympics.

The national treasure sets the scene for equestrian, para-equestrian and pentathlon events. It makes sense, given how integral horses have been to the site since the Sun King had it built in 1623. The animal was part of the royal family’s lives and catered for the court, as you can tell from the buildings that make up Versailles itself: the Great Stables, Small Stables, Gallery of Coaches etc.

Just imagine watching eventing, dressage and show jumping in the Grounds and Park around the Étoile Royale, set up to protect the heritage site and give the events a unique royal showcase! 

Visitors who need to calm down after the exciting show of sportsmanship can still visit the Château de Versailles, Estate of Trianon and Gardens throughout the Olympics and Paralympics. There are even special cultural events and original themed guided tours to experience: Versailles, games and sport; Dance in court; Gods and heroes; Versailles, on horseback or carriage; Horses in art and bike rides around Versailles Park.

Cultural events celebrating the Olympics all over France

The Olympic torch will fire up your inner athlete as it makes its way through France and the overseas territories. The torch will be lit in Olympia on April 16th and begin its journey in France on May 8th in Marseille. It will wind through 65 départements before reaching Paris on July 26th. Along the way, it will visit several towns and villages in France which will host Olympic celebrations. Here are a few of them… 

Castelnaudary: A photo contest with a sports theme

The Olympic torch will visit Castelnaudary on May 16th 2024. The welcoming Occitanie town in the Aude département will host a photo contest on the theme of “The Beauty of Sport in Castelnaudary.” What does it involve? Taking photos of athletes in action in Castelnaudary. The exhibition will be unveiled on May 16th when the torch passes through…

Marseille to Manosque:

The Olympic torch is landing at the Vieux-Port in Marseille on May 8th 2024 on board the majestic three-masted ship, the Belem! The legendary ship will take a spin around Marseille harbour with an armada of boats in its wake. The torch bearer will “walk on water” to dry land on a floating 100m athletics track looking out onto La Canebière. It’s going to be quite a show! 

The torch relay will then run through 7 towns and cities: Cassis, Miramas, Aix-en-Provence, Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, Istres, Eygalieres and Arles. 

Let’s get the party started!

The Menton Lemon Festival (which we discussed in our last article about Carnivals in Provence) is going all out Olympic this year! The Modern and Ancient Olympics are the theme of the corsos (parades) for the Menton Carnival. A dozen floats will hit the streets and seaside in the Provençal town with John Lemon, the Lemon Festival mascot, strutting his stuff alongside the Phryges, the official mascots of the Paris Olympics!

How about Brittany?

There aren’t any Olympic events happening in Brittany but the torch will be passing through the popular tourist region. It will visit Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan and Finistère and end its race on land on June 7th, when the torch sets sail to the Antilles on board Armel Le Cléac’h’s maxi-trimaran!

There’s a 125-year age gap between the Belem and the maxi-trimaran! The torch will cross the Atlantic in 7 (or 8!) days to reach the coasts of Guadeloupe then Martinique. Everyone will be keeping a close eye on the torch during the journey to protect it from the sea spray and wind!

All over France: the grande randonnée to Paris

Let’s end this tour of sporting and cultural events celebrating the Olympics in France with a nationwide challenge: the FFR (French Rambling Federation) has an incredible hike from Paris to the rest of France!​​ 

Seven major trails have been designed in France and its overseas territories to reach Paris and celebrate this grande randonnée on the weekend of May 11th and 12th 2024.

What does the challenge involve? 7 major trails suitable for all ages with 560 marked-out stages covering 20-25km each. Keen walkers can begin their epic journey on January 13th and hike 10,000km to the finish line in Paris by the weekend of May 10th.  

Here are the 7 trails based on the GR® routes that have been carefully marked-out by FFR volunteers:

  1. Secret plains and forests in Hauts de France 
  2. The Grand Est battlefield
  3. Vauban fortifications from Nice to Paris via Grenoble, Besançon etc.
  4. Culture and wine in Burgundy
  5. The Loire springs to the Seine
  6. Cathar castles or Loire châteaux
  7. Brittany tides to the winding Seine
Institut des Frères Lumière à Lyon<br />

The FFR has been approved as a Land of Games 2024. The label recognises its commitment to the Olympic adventure and to sharing its values, the benefits of sport and its importance in people’s everyday lives.

Institut des Frères Lumière à Lyon<br />

For anyone planning to visit France in this Olympic year: Paris will be the nerve centre for the competition but every region, town and village in France is getting ready to celebrate the event. Cultural festivals, heritage sites and community events will fly the flag for Olympic values and showcase France in all its glory. You need to come and experience it for yourself!

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