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Olympics France 2024: Enjoy the country beyond sports
10 min read
Updated on Mar 04, 2024

As the world gears up for the Paris Olympics 2024, France beckons not just as a premier sports destination but as a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and gastronomical delights. Discover the charm of France beyond the Olympic stadiums with iVisa's curated guide to the best attractions and activities!

From iconic landmarks and outdoor adventures to culinary journeys and day trips, we've summarized the essence of France into 20 must-experience wonders.

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Ready to go? Let iVisa simplify your travel admin, such as the France Schengen Visa application. With our handy online platform and app, you can soak in the adventure with ease.

The best places to watch the Games for free

We promised to showcase 'France beyond the sports,' but we couldn't resist slipping in a few tips for some understated Olympic fun that’ll show you some of the most gorgeous parts of Paris.

1. Support open-air sports along the Seine

Enjoy the excitement of the Olympics in the fresh air! Many events, like marathon running, rowing, triathlon, open water swimming, and road cycling, will happen out in the open.

Join the crowds along the charming streets of Paris, the iconic Champs-Élysées avenue, and the banks of the Seine to cheer on the athletes and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.

To help you plan your watch party, here's a map of all the venues and sports they'll host:

2. Soak up the atmosphere in dedicated fan zones

The opening ceremony of the France Olympics 2024, parts of which will take place on the Seine River across six kilometers, will also be free to watch for thousands of local spectators. Eighty giant screens will allow everyone to enjoy the magical atmosphere of this show in the heart of Paris. Show up early to get a good spot.

Additionally, about 30 fan zones throughout France will offer a variety of activities, from big screens and live music to catering, all in the Olympic spirit. In the heart of the excitement, three spots stand out for their unique offerings:

  • Champions Park at Trocadéro, with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, is open daily without charge to allow fans to celebrate with the medalists of the day before.

  • Club France, nestled in Parc de la Villette, offers a slice of French hospitality.

  • The vibrant square in front of City Hall is another atmospheric celebration hub.

Each location promises an unforgettable experience for visitors, blending festivities with the spirit of camaraderie.

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Must-try French cuisine

As you explore the rich flavors and world-renowned gastronomy that France offers, from savory classics to innovative delights, indulge in must-try experiences that blend traditional French cuisine with the spirit of the games.

3. Explore France's premier wine destinations

From the sun-drenched hills of Bordeaux to the picturesque valleys of the Loire, discover the best spots to savor the country's legendary wines.

Enhance your experience at esteemed estates, where experts teach you to appreciate the subtle nuances that make French wine a global standard:

  • Ruinart: What’s a celebration without champagne? As the oldest established champagne house, Ruinart in Reims is a testament to centuries of winemaking mastery. Visitors can explore its historic chalk cellars and sample its sophisticated and aromatic champagnes.

Ruinart can be easily reached by a 45-minute train ride from Paris via the high-speed TGV or regional trains, making these Champagne houses particularly accessible for a day trip from the capital.

  • Joseph Drouhin: Nestled in the hills of Beaune, Burgundy, and easily reachable for a day trip, Joseph Drouhin offers a fascinating tour of its ancient cellars, dating back to the 13th century.

The visit encompasses a journey through Burgundy's diverse appellations, accompanied by tastings of their finely crafted wines.

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4. Tasting culinary French delights

Amidst this culinary exploration, visiting a celebrated must-do French restaurant is essential. Check out these renowned restaurants in the Olympic destinations throughout France:

  • L'Arpège - Paris: Under the stewardship of Chef Alain Passard, this Parisian establishment is celebrated for its innovative veg-forward cuisine, drawing gourmands seeking a Michelin-starred dining experience.

  • Le Petit Nice - Marseille: Overlooking the Mediterranean, this Marseille institution led by Chef Gérald Passedat is renowned for its seafood, particularly the bouillabaisse. The restaurant's setting, cuisine, and attention to detail offer a sublime dining experience while also getting a glimpse of the Olympic sailing race in the old port.

  • La Table de Meert - Lille: Meert is a historic and iconic destination in Lille, famous for its pâtisserie, tearoom, and restaurant. Known mainly for its exquisite desserts and pastries, including the famed vanilla waffle, Meert blends tradition with the elegance of French cuisine.

Booking ahead is key for top spots. But if you can't get a reservation, no sweat—France is full of great traditional brasseries and bistros offering amazing traditional French dishes without the fuss.

The best cultural experiences in Paris that are not the Louvre

While the Louvre is one of the greatest art museums globally, drawing millions of visitors annually, Paris boasts over a hundred equally remarkable museums and sights.

Once you've explored the Louvre, many less crowded options await, promising diverse and enriching experiences. Here are our best picks for those moments in between games.

5. Discover the masters at Musée d'Orsay

Step into the world of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism at the Musée d'Orsay, housed in a stunning Beaux-Arts railway station. Marvel at masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Degas as you wander through this iconic museum.

The museum gives you valuable insight into French-influenced or native art masters. Though typically busy, especially during peak seasons like summer and the Olympics, tickets can be easily booked in advance for smoother access.

6. Take a boat trip on the Seine River in Paris

Experience the true essence of Parisian charm with a cruise along the Seine River. From leisurely sightseeing tours to luxurious gourmet dinners, there's a diverse array of options to suit every preference.

Most Seine River Cruises embark from Pont de l’Alma, conveniently located near the base of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

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7. Pay homage to legends at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Stroll through the peaceful avenues of Père Lachaise Cemetery, where history, art, and nature converge in a serene sanctuary.

Pay homage to legendary figures such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Edith Piaf amidst the evocative beauty of ornate tombs and sculpted memorials. Remember, stay respectful by keeping to the path, keeping voices down, and not taking photographs.

8. Journey into Parisian Bohemia at Montmartre

Nestled on a picturesque hill in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre exudes an enchanting charm that has long captivated artists, writers, and dreamers.

Wander through the lively square of Place du Tertre, where street artists set up their easels amidst bustling cafés, and delve into the neighborhood’s rich history at Le Moulin de la Galette, a historic windmill turned restaurant immortalized in paintings by Renoir and Van Gogh.

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9. Wander the Quartier Latin

Crossing the Seine from Notre Dame leads you to the historic Quartier Latin, Paris's 5th arrondissement. This traditional neighborhood, nestled near the esteemed Sorbonne University, boasts an array of attractions.

Highlights include the iconic Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the majestic Panthéon, the serene Luxembourg Gardens, and the magnificent Church of Saint-Sulpice.

Outdoor adventures in France

Embark on thrilling outdoor escapades in France, from traversing the majestic peaks of the Alps to leisurely cycling through the scenic landscapes of the Loire Valley.

10. Learn to ski at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Nestled in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc beckons as a premier ski resort, set at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europe's loftiest peak.

Renowned for its exhilarating slopes, breathtaking vistas, and storied legacy in alpine sports and mountaineering, the resort offers an ideal snowy getaway for holiday enthusiasts seeking adventure and natural splendor.

11. Hike the majestic peaks of the French Alps

Embark on a thrilling hiking adventure amidst the gorgeous mountains of the French Alps. Discover the breathtaking beauty of ever-changing landscapes, offering stunning scenery, crisp mountain air, and pristine lakes ideal for hiking and climbing adventures.

Some top day hikes in the French Alps include a trek to the stunning Lac Blanc, where azure waters mirror the surrounding peaks, and Aiguille du Midi for awe-inspiring views of Mont Blanc.

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12. Cycle the famous and beginner-friendly Loire Valley

Discover the picturesque countryside of the Loire Valley on two wheels, pedaling along tranquil riverside paths and through charming villages. Cycle past magnificent châteaux, vineyards, and lush green landscapes, experiencing the beauty of rural France at your own pace.

One must-visit trail is the renowned La Loire à vélo, famed for its gentle terrain, making it particularly suitable for families and novice cyclists alike.

French Riviera high-life and highlights

Explore the glamorous allure of the French Riviera, where pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious resorts beckon travelers to indulge in the epitome of Mediterranean elegance.

13. Experience the epitome of glamour in Saint-Tropez

Experience the epitome of Riviera glamour at Plage de Pampelonne, a pristine stretch of sandy beach fringed by turquoise waters in Saint-Tropez. Lounge in style at exclusive beach clubs, indulge in gourmet cuisine, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this legendary coastline.

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14. Dive into the vibrant nightlife scene of Nice

Chic bars, trendy clubs, and lively beachfront promenades come alive after dark in Nice. Dance the night away at iconic venues such as Le B Club or enjoy a leisurely cocktail along the glamorous Promenade des Anglais.

Local markets to watch daily French life go by

Immerse yourself in the vibrant French culture and cuisine by venturing into the bustling local markets, where fragrant spices, fresh produce, and artisanal delights await discovery.

15. Immerse yourself in the bustling ambiance of Marché Bastille

Marché Bastille is one of Paris's largest and most vibrant markets. Nestled near the historic Bastille Square, this vibrant market attracts locals and tourists alike with its bustling atmosphere and diverse offerings.

Stroll through the maze of stalls to discover a treasure trove of seasonal fruits and vegetables, aromatic cheeses, crusty baguettes, fragrant flowers, artisanal chocolates, pastries, charcuterie, and freshly shucked oysters and grilled seafood.

Great day trips from major cities in France

Embarking on a day trip is an exciting way to explore nearby attractions and picturesque towns, offering a brief yet enriching escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and the Olympic frenzy (pun not intended).

16. Learn more about the historic Normandy beaches

The Normandy beaches, in northern France, are a testament to some of the most violent battles in World War II. Around 3,000 allied soldiers lost their lives there on D-Day on 6 June 1944, when allied armies invaded the region from land, air, and sea to defeat the German Nazis.

Each year, tourists flock to Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches to witness the sites where historic conflicts unfolded. Just a three-hour drive from Paris, this journey offers a compelling glimpse into a pivotal chapter of French history.

17. Witness the iconic tides at Mont Saint-Michel Island

Mont Saint Michel is one of the most visited attractions in France. Its history dates back to 708 AC, when the first sanctuary was built. The place quickly became a major pilgrimage center, and in 966, a Benedictine Abbey was built on the highest point of the rocky islet.

It may not be super close to Paris (about a 5-hour drive), but it’s worth the trip. Ideally, you should stay a night in Mont St. Michel to have enough time to explore the medieval streets and see the magic happening between the high and low tides in the bay.

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18. Explore the sweet romance of Château de Chantilly

Escape the hustle and bustle of Paris with a short day trip to the enchanting Château de Chantilly. Explore its magnificent Renaissance château, stroll through the expansive gardens, and marvel at masterpieces in the Musée Condé.

And yes, Chantilly cream, also known as crème Chantilly, is a sweetened whipped cream that originated in the same region. It is flavored with vanilla extract and sugar and is commonly used as a topping for desserts such as cakes, pies, and fruit.

19. Discover the rugged beauty of the Calanques National Park

Located on the outskirts of Marseille, the landscapes of Calanques National Park are something else. Embark on a boat tour or hike along scenic coastal trails, exploring hidden coves, crystal-clear waters, and dramatic limestone cliffs.

Some of the most notable calanques (coves) in the park include Calanque de Sormiou, Calanque de Morgiou, and Calanque d'En-Vau, each offering breathtaking scenery and opportunities for hiking, swimming, and rock climbing.

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20. Delve into the opulent history of the Palace of Versailles

Also known as Château de Versailles, this iconic palace stands as a symbol of monarchical power during the era of absolutism in France, serving as the grand residence of French monarchs, including King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette.

A visit to this historic landmark, just a short day trip away from the bustling capital city of Paris, promises an unforgettable journey through centuries of French history and culture.

Plan your trip to the France Olympics in 2024

Getting excited? Use our [travel planning checklist] for your trip to the Olympics in France, with tips about what to pack, how to get tickets, and more.

Whether you're cheering on your favorite athletes across France, exploring the majestic French Alps, or venturing further into Europe, let us simplify the process of obtaining your France Schengen Visa.

Apply seamlessly through our user-friendly platform, or download the iVisa app for an even smoother experience. Have questions? Reach out to us via WhatsApp or email at [email protected] to begin planning your unforgettable journey in time for the Paris Olympics 2024.

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en/web/france-visas/home
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