Paris hosts the 2024 summer Olympics / Photos by Katie Burkholder

Backstrokes and Berets: Your Guide to Paris and the Summer Olympics

Seeing the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list experience — and seeing them in the City of Love makes it even more special. Paris is the host city of this year’s summer Olympics, so here’s everything you need to know whether you’re there for the sports or just a summer getaway.
The 2024 Olympics
Paris is hosting the Olympics from July 26 to August 11 across 35 different venues. If you’re more interested in the scenery than the sports, the most beautiful venues are the Chateau de Versailles for equestrian and modern pentathlon, the Eiffel Tower Stadium for beach volleyball, and the Grand Palais for fencing and taekwondo. To see the full list of venues and sports, visit olympics.com/en/paris-2024/venues.
To purchase tickets for Olympic sessions, visit tickets.paris2024.org. Tickets are limited to a maximum of four to six per person, depending on the sport, and you can search by event and venue to find the perfect session for you. Tickets for sessions will regularly be put on sale, so to stay informed about ticketing news, visit the page frequently and create an account.
Traffic in Paris is the worst of any city I’ve ever been to when it isn’t the Olympics, so be prepared for crowds and get ready to walk and use public transportation. Paris’ Metro system is simple to navigate, but it pays to know the hours: late nights out can leave you stranded (like I may or may have not been during my time there). The Metro runs until about 12:45am on weekdays and about 1:45am on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you’re traveling to Paris from July 20 to September 8, you can buy a Paris 2024 pass for unlimited travel on the entire Ile-de-France public transport network, which can take some of the stress out of finding the right train and help you avoid the lines to purchase fare. The price ranges from €10 to €16 per day, depending on how many days you buy. To purchase, visit iledefrance-mobilites.fr/en/tickets-fares/detail/paris2024-pass.
Tourist Spots Worth Visiting
Paris is the most visited city in the world, with 44 million visitors in 2022. It’s one of the most iconic tourist destinations, with so many landmarks and attractions that it can be difficult to know what to do first. When it comes to the tourist cliches that are worth visiting, the Louvre tops the list. Even if you’re not a fine art expert, you’re sure to see multiple pieces you recognize –— including its most famous, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which is absolutely stunning and absolutely not worth waiting in a long line for a closer look, since the museum is massive and full of not only thousands of equally incredible paintings, but also the most awe-inspiring architecture I’ve ever seen. Be sure to stop by the Galerie d’Apollon to see the French Crown Jewels; I promise you won’t regret it.
The Catacombs are another attraction absolutely worth the hype, especially for lovers of the spooky and macabre. It’s an incredibly surreal and borderline spiritual experience to walk among the remains of people of a time long past while learning about the city’s history. I’ll never forget it. Be prepared to descend and ascend some very steep stairs, but if you have claustrophobia, have no fear: my travel companion also does and had no trouble being underground.
People watching in a café is a quintessential Paris experience and must be worked into your plans. We stopped by Café Kleber for the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had, espresso, and crepes. Word to the wise: Parisian restaurant culture is far different from American culture, so either prepare yourself to enjoy your breakfast for a long time, taking advantage of any time a waiter is at your table by asking for the check as soon as possible, or be proactive (like, get-out-of-your-seat-and-find-a-waiter proactive).
While it may not be at the same level of tourist cliché as the Louvre or Catacombs, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore is a must-visit for book lovers. Whether you buy a novel to take home or read upstairs in the cozy reading room straight out of the provincial town Belle sings about in “Beauty and the Beast,” its proximity to Notre Dame makes it a necessary addition to your itinerary.
Nightlife
To kick off your Parisian night on the town, let your creativity run wild at Bisou, where you give the prompt — ingredients, flavor, color, general vibe — and the mixologists make you a custom cocktail, complete with fun and unique garnishes and even glitter if you want. Another great spot for drinks is L’Epicier, a speakeasy behind a grocery storefront. Both the atmosphere and menu are evidence of the Arabian influence, with Moroccan lamps, Arabic stop signs as tables, and cocktails made of rose water, tonka bean, orange blossom, cardamom, and pomegranate.
Of course, you must see a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge or Crazy Horse. If you happen to visit from June 24–28, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Violet Chachki will be guest-starring among the Crazy Horse dancers. As for gay nightlife, Le Raidd will offer you a night you’ll never forget with super buff go-go boys performing shower shows (where, yes, they shower in front of you — check out their Instagram @raidd_paris to get a taste).