Midweek Distractions 2/28/24: How to Avoid the Paris Olympics

PARIS, FRANCE, March 2023: Top view of flag of french olympics games 2024 with grunge texture. no flagpole. Plane design, layout. official logo of SOG 2024 in Paris

In just a few months, Paris will be overwhelmed with visitors planning on watching the Olympic Games—or, at least, planning on taking in some of the lively atmosphere the Games will provide. And while many might be excited at the prospect, visiting Paris at such a high-demand time honestly sounds like my worst nightmare.

I once made a trip to Paris that coincided, unbeknownst to me, with an important soccer match, and I spent most of the weekend ducking out of the way of throngs of drunk Brits, and trying to get the attention of waiters whose eyes were glued to the game. The city was so packed with visitors that weekend that I almost didn’t find a place to stay. I saw hostel beds in 10-bed rooms going for, I kid you not, $800 a pop. There were literally zero Airbnbs available. Hotels were booked out. I ended up crashing in the college dorm of a friend of a friend, which had communal bathrooms and no Wi-Fi. Not exactly my (or anyone’s) dream Paris vacation.

So if you are planning on going to the Games, we’ve got some details for you on how to get around Paris, and what to know about the Paris 2024 Olympics. But if you aren’t going to the Games, but are still considering a summer trip to France, you may be wondering: Is it worth traveling to Paris (or anywhere in France) this summer?

Depending on your situation, it might not be. But that doesn’t mean that all of France is off the table entirely. So this week, we’re highlighting some under the radar French vacation spots you may wish to consider. Perhaps a cycling trip through the vineyards of the Loire Valley sounds ideal to you. Or slow traveling through the Gascony region in Southwestern France. Lille, at the northern tip of France, is also quite easy to access by plane or train (though it may catch some of the runoff from the Olympic Games due to its proximity to Paris).

Here are just a few ways to get to France without flying through Paris (though keep in mind that flights everywhere are already inflated and hotels everywhere are likely to be inflated, too.):

– You could take a bus from London to Calais and explore Normandy from there.

– You could hop on a quick 90 minute train from London to Lille. Or you could fly into Brussels, which is barely half an hour by train from Lille.

– You could fly into Geneva and take the train two hours to Lyon.

– Barcelona is an easy access point from which to border hop between France and Spain. (This would be easiest with a car, but Bordeaux and Nice are both just a short flight away from Barcelona.)

If these seem a little convoluted, or just aren’t accessible to you from where you live, then worry not: There will always be time for Paris. Just maybe not this summer.

Catherine Rickman
Managing Editor, frenchly.us

Stay in touch! I’d love to hear from you: [email protected].

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