How to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics outside of Paris

While the focus this summer is on the City of Light, Paris isn't the only French city preparing for the 2024 Summer Olympics. In fact, 14 cities stretching from north to south, from Lille to Marseille, and east to west, from Lyon to Bordeaux, will host competitions in soccer, cycling, sailing, golf and more. And then there are the people of Tahitia, who will be praying for perfect weather. The tropical island about 10,000 miles off the coast of France will be home to one of the Olympics' newest sports: surfing, which debuts in Tokyo in 2021.

So whether you go to the Summer Olympics every four years or are planning your first trip, consider somewhere other than Paris. Here's how to make it the best trip possible.

Teaupoo, Tahiti

Surfing at Te Aupō in Tahiti

This summer surfing competitions will be held in chaupos around the world.

Steve Dickinson

Professional surfers can't decide which is harder: pronouncing “Tea Aupo” correctly, or hitting the figure ten on the famous swell. Located on the southeast coast of Iti, a less-visited peninsula of Tahiti, Tea Aupo is about a 90-minute drive from the capital, Papeete. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it coastal village, foreign surfers nearly outnumber the 1,500 locals. Why hold a surfing competition in such a remote location? Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, one of France's overseas territories. More importantly, it boasts waves that Surfer Today describes as “vibrant, mutated slabs crashing against a shallow, living reef.” Of course, you don't need to know the difference between a duck dive and a turtle roll to enjoy a teehupu.

what will you do

Leave the binoculars at home: unless you're lucky enough to have one of the very few tickets (distribution TBA) that will let you into the village, your only option will be to watch the action on the giant screens set up at Atimaono Beach and Papeete's “ticket-free fan zone.” In between surfing, relax on the peninsula's black-sand beaches or hike the jungle trails.

Where to stay

Most of the hotels with availability during the Games, from July 27 to August 5, are in Papeete. The InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa and Hilton Hotel Tahiti both offer rooms from $360 a night. Meanwhile, on Moorea, about a 45-minute ferry ride from Papeete, luxury bungalows at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort start at $720 a night. If you want to spend your time on the water, that's about $1,500 a night. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, consider nearby Bora Bora. To celebrate kitesurfing's Olympic debut, the St. Regis Bora Bora is offering a “Kite Surfing Experience” from $11,254 for two people for five nights.

how to access

United Airlines flies nonstop to Papeete five times a week from SFO, but if you have a board, you can fly with Air Tahiti Nui, which flies nonstop daily from Los Angeles and Seattle, where the board counts as one of your checked bags.


Mareuil City

Marseille is the centre of Olympic sailing.

Courtesy of Marseille Tourist Office

France's oldest settlement has been a maritime hub since it was founded by Greek sailors in 600 BC, who left a few sirens behind. Today's sailors are drawn by the hope of winning one of the 30 coveted Olympic medals. With ideal weather conditions year-round and impressive maritime facilities, Marseille was the obvious choice to host 10 sailing-related events this summer. But this sunny port city is also looking forward to welcoming football fans, whose 67,000-seat Stade Orange Vélodrome will host both women's and men's football matches, including the semi-finals.

what will you do

Tickets to Marseille Olympique start at just $16 per person and can be purchased here. If you're in this vibrant part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, make sure to save time for some day trips too. In late July and early August, photograph the lavender fields where the purple mountains form a fragrant carpet; explore Calanques National Park, where fjords rise from the turquoise waters; or take the new La Grotte Cosquet elevator 122 feet below the surface to the mouth of a prehistoric cave.

Where to stay

The NH Collection Marseille (suites from $650 per night) is within walking distance of Marseille Cathedral, the Mucem Museum, and the city's most visited landmark, Notre-Dame de la Garde. For panoramic sea views and gold-medal worthy gastronomy (the on-site restaurant has three Michelin stars), book one of Le Petit Nice's 16 rooms or two private villas (from $990 per night).

how to access

There are no direct flights from the US to Marseille, but there are at least five direct flights daily from Paris. By plane, the journey takes 1.5 hours. By train, it takes 3-4 hours from Paris.

Versailles and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

Equestrian events at the Palace of Versailles

The 2024 equestrian events are scheduled to take place at the palace.

© Palace of Versailles / D. Saulnier

Louis XIV's favourite sport was hunting on horseback, and although it's unlikely the International Olympic Committee would approve, the backyard of Versailles will be the stage for all equestrian events and the modern pentathlon (including shooting). Meanwhile, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, seven miles west of Versailles, is excited to unveil a 6,000-seat velodrome. As well as hosting track cycling, mountain biking and BMX events, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is also home to the Golf National, where 120 professional golfers, including Scottie Scheffler, tee off in August.

what will you do

Parts of the park at Versailles are closed for the event, but the museum, gardens and Grand Trianon, where the Sun King romanced his mistress, are open. If you're based in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, try Pilotage Passion, where you can take a 670-horsepower Ferrari for a few laps around a 1,700-metre course at 180 mph. Or head to Helico-Saero, where a one-day piloting package gives you the chance to try your hand at the controls of a $480,000 Cabri G2 helicopter.

Where to stay

There are few AirBNB and VRBO accommodation options and most area hotels are fully booked, but the Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace, located next to the Palace of Versailles, has a few rooms available (from $550 per night), and in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, you can still stay at the three-star Ibis (from $325 per night), just a two-minute walk from the bike trail.

how to access

Most visitors will arrive at Versailles or Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines from Paris on the RER C line, which takes 30 to 45 minutes. Of course, instead of taking a crowded train, you can also take Uber Lux, which takes 20 to 50 minutes, depending on traffic.

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