Olympics Paris
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YEAR AFTER A YEAR, the biting chill of the southern hemisphere’s winter months brings about a mass exodus. Suddenly, while you’re settling in for a few months of hibernation, your Instagram feed begins to be filled with visions of clear blue skies, scenic coastlines and seaside cocktails. The natural response to these posts is to wonder how on earth everyone can afford such lavish getaways while you’re shivering through yet another cold front. Bad news though, this year you can expect an even higher rate of Euro summer trips, as the Olympics are coming to Paris.

Witnessing the Olympic Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The quadrennial competition is a demonstration of the absolute pinnacle of sporting prowess, where feats of superhuman strength, endurance and skill become everyday occurrences for just over two weeks. Combine the allure of witnessing these events with the fact that they’ll be taking place in Paris this year, and you’ve got a tourism boom on your hands.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro—the final summer Olympics before COVID derailed spectator numbers—attracted 1.17 million tourists. Even more are expected to visit Paris later this year. But if you want to secure a place at the world’s biggest sporting event, time is rapidly running out. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled everything you need to plan a trip right here.

When are the 2024 Olympics?

The 2024 Paris Olympics will take place from July 24th to August 11th. The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 26th, but preliminary and qualifying events will begin on July 24th. For the record, that’s just about when Australia is at its coldest and Paris is at its warmest.

How do you get tickets for the Olympics?

Tickets for the Olympics are only available on the official Paris 2024 website, which you can find here.

Tickets cannot be directly purchased like they can for any other sporting event. Instead, you’ll have to declare your interest in attending before January 31st. Then, a series of ticketing draws will determine if you’ll be able to attend. The first draw takes place on February 15th, the second will be in May.

In this brutal procedure, it’s all in the luck of the draw. Only if you’re successful can you select—and pay for—the events you’d like to attend. If your name isn’t drawn, tough luck.

Will Paris be busy during the Olympics?

Yes. Very.  Even if you can’t secure tickets to Olympic events and just want to be in the city of lights and love to soak in that coveted Olympic vibe, it’s going to be packed like a can of tuna. As we mentioned earlier, 1.17 million people visited Rio De Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and there’s no reason to believe there won’t be an even higher number of tourists in Paris later this year. Add to that Paris’ existing population of 2.1 million and the standard number of tourists that will be in the city at what is the busiest time of the year. One thing is clear, there’s going to be stiff competition for inner-city car spaces.

How much will it cost to go to the Olympics from Australia?

Prices will vary depending on where you’re departing from, how long you’ll be staying and how many events catch your interest. But for a ballpark estimate, let’s do the math.

Say you’re a Sydneysider departing on August 25th—just in time for the opening ceremony—and returning on August 12th, the average economy class ticket that doesn’t require a laborious 12-hour+ layover will set you back around $2,500 AUD. Accommodation for that timespan in a mid-range three-to-four-star hotel won’t come cheap either, with prices ranging from $400 a night on the outskirts of the city to $1,000 a night closer to the action. Let’s assume you live by the adage that the best value wine at a fancy restaurant is the second cheapest bottle, and settle on a room for $500 a night, or $8,500 for the full trip.

Ticket pricing varies between events and hasn’t been made publicly available just yet. But we can assume from previous Games’ pricing that the average ticket will cost around $100. If you’re in Paris for the duration of the Games, you’ll want to be attending at least one event per day, which should cost around $1,700 in total.

So, not including food, transport, activities and other expenses, our 2024 Olympics cost estimate amounts to $12,700 AUD. Sheesh. Shortening the trip might be a good idea, as would making some Parisian friends who don’t mind letting you crash on their couch.

But I’m on a budget, how else can I go to the Olympics?

If a five figure price point is a dealbreaker, there are some cheaper ways to get a taste of the Olympic spirit. Not every Olympic event takes place in Paris, after all. Handball—not the most exciting sport, but an Olympic event nonetheless—is being held in Lille, 225km from the host city. Sailing is being held in Marseille, while the football tournaments will have games in Bordeaux, Nantes, Nice, Saint-Étienne and Décines-Charpieu. All of these are still cities in metropolitan France though, so they’ll all require a hefty monetary investment. There is one more option a little closer to home though.

Also, there are no waves in Paris. Yet, when surfing became an Olympic event at Tokyo 2020, it meant that Games organisers would have to find a suitably French location to host the sport. They landed on Teahupo’o, a small village in Tahiti, which is nominally a part of French Polynesia and home to one of the most iconic breaks in surfing. While Teahupo’o is more than 15,000km from Paris, it is noticeably closer to Australia. Plane tickets from Sydney to Tahiti go for a much more reasonable price of around $1,400, and accommodation in Teahupo’o will certainly be much cheaper than in Paris. So there you have it. For Australians, the cheapest way to get in on the Olympic spirit in person is not to embark on a Euro Summer, but a Polynesian winter amongst the Pacific islands.

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