The Brief Windows In Summer 2024 When Clever Travelers Will Head To Paris, Per Rick Steves

Sports tourism is on the rise, and in 2024, there's perhaps no better example than the Paris Olympics. The World Economic Forum reports that around 15 million tourists are expected to visit the City of Light during the event, which runs from July 26 to August 11. 

Besides being packed with crowds, Paris will also be especially costly to visit during the Olympics. A Que Choisir (link in French) study found that hotels were going for triple their usual price, from an average of $337 per night in mid-July to a staggering $1,098 on the night of the opening ceremony.

If you've been eager to see the Eiffel Tower in person, you can still plan your dream Parisian escape without blowing through your savings. Rick Steves offers an alternative to the Olympics rush for travelers looking to visit the famous city while avoiding the madness — and, nope, you won't have to wait until next year for your trip.

Plan your trip around the Olympics

When it comes to visiting Paris this summer, it pays to go against the grain. A Rick Steves article points out that travel during the Olympics will be hectic and not ideal for those who want to travel cheap and avoid the masses. While another season may be a safer choice this year, some people only have vacation time during the summer, and others might just prefer the way Paris feels on warm, sunny days.

If that's you, don't fret. Steves recommends traveling to the European destination just before or just after the Olympic Games. These brief windows may offer more competitive flight and hotel rates, as tourist numbers are expected to be lower than average. You can also get a feel for the Olympic spirit even if your travel dates don't overlap with the event. For instance, Steves' website notes that Paris is making changes to accommodate the influx of guests, including upgrading buildings, paving new bike paths, and providing additional tourist services. If you travel outside the peak travel window, you can still benefit from these improvements, without dealing with the overwhelming crowds.

For the calmest period of all, consider traveling in mid-August after the Olympics wrap up but before the Paralympics kick off on August 28. As Steves adds, August is France's vacation period, so many locals will leave the big city to relax in the countryside or at the beach.

What to know if you do travel during the Games

If your trip does coincide with the 2024 Summer Olympics, be prepared to witness a different Paris than what you may have seen in the guidebooks and travel blogs. Remember, millions of people will be traveling to the Olympics, and many events are scheduled to take place at venues near famous attractions. As a result, you might not get to visit the historic monument or picture-worthy museum you had on your bucket list.

On that note, you also won't be able to travel as freely around the city as usual. Some areas near the events will require a code to enter, and certain subway stops will be completely shuttered during the Olympics. This can significantly impact your sightseeing schedule, so prepare in advance and remain flexible in case last-minute closures occur.

Finally, be sure to book activities and meals as early as possible. Popular Parisian restaurants generally require diners to make reservations, and this will be especially imperative during the busy period. Museums and other tourist sites should also be booked in advance if you want to nab your spot.