Many Olympic events will take place at the city’s most legendary venues. Here’s how to see the Games – with or without a ticket – near some of Paris’ world-famous monuments.

Remarkable sporting achievements and heroism aside, this summer’s Olympics in Paris will shine light on a plethora of historical landmarks. Over the course of four weeks (Olympics 26 July-11 August; Paralympics 28 August-8 September), millions of spectators will gravitate to Europe’s most densely populated city to watch world-class sport unfurl in open-air arenas and along road routes soaked in history.

There’ll be athletes running in the footsteps of women revolutionaries who marched to Versailles in 1789 demanding bread and arms; swimmers in the River Seine reviving an old-school urban tradition banned since 1923; and world-class cyclists powering up the steep, cobbled street in Montmartre where Louis Renault supposedly road-tested his first car in 1898. The cultural cache is immense.

In keeping with Paris 2024’s pledge to halve the Games’ previous carbon footprint, 95% of the world’s biggest sporting event will take place in existing venues or one of seven temporary structures crafted for the occasion – typically in an iconic square or in the shadow of a world-famous monument. While tickets for the most popular events have already been snapped up, seats still remain for football, rugby and other big-venue sports; ditto for most Paralympic events. New “gold-dust” tickets will be available from mid-May on Paris 2024’s official resale platform – create an online account to ensure first dibs. Failing that, here are a few tips and tricks to get in on the action at Paris’ most iconic venues.

1. Eiffel Tower

Beach volleyball and the men’s Paralympic blind football will take place in a temporary outdoor stadium at the Parc du Champ de Mars at the foot of Paris’ greatest icon. In between jump serves and spikes in the sand, 12,000-odd spectators will bask in bold views of Gustave Eiffel’s Dame de Fer (Iron Lady). The 330m-tall latticework beacon was constructed in iron as a temporary structure for the 1889 World Fair. Some of its 18,038 iron parts have since been replaced, and it is these carefully preserved chunks of original metal that have been upcycled to craft the Olympic medals. Each medal minted just a couple of miles upstream at national mint La Monnaie de Paris contains an 18g crumb of original Eiffel Tower iron, melted down and reforged as a hexagon (symbolic of hexagon-shaped France).

Eiffel Tower Stadium events are ticketed, but a bird’s-eye view of the Olympic action can be enjoyed from the three floors of the Eiffel Tower itself. Find out the date and time of the event you want to see, and get bragging rights by buying tower tickets, with an allocated timeslot, online 60 days in advance of the event you’re keen to see. Oh, and bring binoculars!

With the exception of the opening ceremony (26 July) and the preceding day, the blockbuster monument is open as usual throughout the Olympics and Paralympics.

2. Champs de Mars

Few half-mile sweeps of grassy lawn are as majestic as the Champ de Mars, bookended with the Eiffel Tower and chateau-like classical facade of École Militaire.

Soak up the atmosphere

Beyond official ticketed Olympic venues (all accessible by public transport and cycling lanes), spectators can soak up the sporting action for free on big screens in fan zones across the city. On the Rive Droite (Right Bank), the square in front of Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) will be a key cultural stage, while pop-up cafe terraces all over Paris can stay open until midnight to boost the celebratory party vibe.

This one-time parade ground for army cadets from the 18th-Century military school will host Olympic judo, wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman), Paralympic wheelchair rugby and para-judo – all inside the temporary Champ de Mars Arena constructed for the Games. Those who’ve visited Paris since 2021 will better know the curvaceous, cross-shaped building in wood as the wildly popular Grand Palais Ephémère, an arts/fashion/sports exhibition venue.

Paralympic tickets are still available; for Olympic events, watch for surprise ticket releases and ticket resales from mid-May.

3. Grand Palais

When the Grand Palais was unveiled for the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900, its glittering barrel-vaulted glass roof was the largest Europe had ever seen. It still is. A seat at Olympic fencing, taekwondo or Paralympic wheelchair fencing is also a ticket to admire the underbelly of the Big Palace’s Herculean nave – propped up by 6,000 tonnes of steel painted mignonette green – in its full glory.

Shut since 2021 for intensive restoration work, Grand Palais will only open again as a cultural venue in 2025, rendering adoration of its dazzling Art Nouveau interior during the Games all the more prized.

4. Trocadéro

The men’s (273km) and women’s (154km) road cycling races will start and finish on 3 and 4 August, respectively, at Trocadéro – the landmark gardens across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower with ornamental fountains, palatial museums and unparalleled sunrise and sunset Eiffel views from its river-facing esplanade.

Palais du Trocadéro, a romantic folly of Moorish towers and neo-Byzantine ornamentation whipped up for the 1878 World Fair, was dismantled in 1935 to make way for today’s museum-filled Palais de Chaillot. When the Olympic crowds at Trocadéro overwhelm, retreat to the second-floor Café Lucy inside the palace’s Musée de l’Homme to enjoy peaceful views of the festivities from above.

Outside of the opening ceremony (which will wind up on the Seine in front of Trocadéro) and its cycling events, Trocadéro will host Champions Park (16:00 to 23:30 daily, 29 July-10 August). Victorious athletes will parade this fan zone each afternoon and the day’s finals will be streamed on a big screen every evening from 19:00. Get set to party.

5. Butte de Montmartre

It isn’t a bricks-and-mortar Olympic venue, but the butte (hillock) of Paris’ legendary Montmartre quartier is one of the hottest spots to catch some nail-biting Olympic action for free. The start/finish blocks of the road cycling races at Trocadéro are ticketed, but once cyclists have crossed the Seine over Pont d’Iéna, anyone can cheer on the peloton roadside as it spins along its lengthy route west to the Château de Versailles and beyond. Download detailed maps of the complete routes – men’s 273km, women’s 158km – here.

Back in Paris, the final epic leg in Montmartre – including three brutal half-mile climbs up iconic Rue Lépic, with bone-rattling pavés (Parisian cobblestones) and an average 6.5% gradient – promises to be spectacular. Arrive early to secure your roadside spot along the route – and don’t forget a flag, banner and hooter to cheer on your favourite rider.

6. Les Invalides

Beneath the glittering dome of the Hôtel National des Invalides, built under Louis XIV in 1670 to accommodate invalides (wounded war veterans), lies Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb. His ashes were moved from the remote island of St Helena to the circular crypt here in 1840, elaborately interred in a red porphyry sarcophagus containing a Russian doll nest of five more caskets crafted in mahogany, ebony, iron and lead.

Pair a visit with Olympic and Paralympic archery events on Esplanade des Invalides, the formal gardens fronting the military hospital-turned-museum. Or save the majestic backdrop for one of the Games’ most emotive, free-to-watch moments: the finish of the Olympic men’s marathon and night-time Marathon for All starring amateur runners on 10 August, and the women’s marathon that notably closes the Paris 2024 Games on 11 August.

7. Pont Alexandre III

This emblematic bridge – an artwork in itself with its allegorical gold-winged statues representing industry, commerce, science and the arts – will raise the curtain on some thrilling Olympic action. Lit by Art Nouveau streetlamps, the bridge was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition at Grand Palais so visitors could easily walk across the river from the Invalides area on the left bank.

Athletes competing in Olympic marathon swimming will start and end the gruelling 10km open-water race upstream from a pontoon beneath Pont Alexandre III. The road bridge will also host the Olympic individual time trails (road cycling) and triathlon – all free to attend.

8. Place de la Concorde

This landmark square – Paris’s largest, linking the Champs-Elysées with the Jardins des Tuileries and the Louvre – is where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, among hundreds of others, were guillotined in 1793 during the Reign of Terror. Two years later, in a gesture of peace and reconciliation, Place de la Concorde (Concord Square) gained its current harmonious name.

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