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Navigating the Paris 2024 Olympics

A South African Traveller’s Last-Minute Guide. What you need to know

As the world’s spotlight turns to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, South African travellers have a unique opportunity to witness this global spectacle firsthand. Whether you’re travelling to experience this exciting event or heading to Paris for other reasons, here’s how you can work around the increased pricing and accommodation situation. From potential Airbnb cancellations to evolving regulations, the Olympics presents unique travel challenges that require an expert eye.

Where to sleep in the City of lights?

From 26 July to 11 August 2024, the City of Lights is set to host an Olympic Games like no other. Paris officials have embraced a sustainable and eco-friendly approach, transforming iconic landmarks around the city into competition sites. Equestrian events will take place in the historic chateau of Versailles, while beach volleyball matches will unfold under the iconic Eiffel Tower. In a groundbreaking move, the Seine River, which has been off-limits for bathing for over a century due to pollution, will host diving and swimming events.

“The Paris Olympics have allowed us to accelerate the city’s transformation and respond to environmental challenges,” said the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo on 2 May 2024. “We have new tram lines, thanks to the Games, and all the trees and flower beds that go with that. The cycle paths have accelerated. We have 1,400 km of cycle lanes today.”

With events scattered across the city, Lynette Machiri, Flight Centre Customer Experience Leader, advises travellers to carefully consider their accommodation options. “Choose a location that allows for easy access to the venues you wish to attend, either via public transportation or by taking advantage of Paris’s extensive cycle lanes,” Machiri recommends. “Striking a balance between budget and convenience will be key. However, if you don’t mind a longer transit time to get to venues, then staying further from the city centre will present more budget friendly options.”

How much for a bed?

As Paris gears up for an influx of over 15 million visitors, accommodation prices continue to be way above the ‘norm’ – and fluctuate without warning. Some hotels in Paris were forecasted to increase their rates by an average of 9% during the Olympics, with some brands like Hyatt Regency, Hilton, and Marriott predicted to skyrocket by nearly 73%, according to the real estate database CoStar.

However, an article in French publication Le Monde suggested that hotel prices were no longer soaring, as an influx of Airbnb listings had led to an increase in overall accommodation supply, causing hotel prices to stabilise. The article noted that the average rate for one night in Greater Paris during the Olympics period had dropped from a concerning €759 (R14 989) in September to a more reasonable €522 (R10 308) in early February. And according to insurance firm Réassurez-moi, the price of a one-night stay in the capital stood at €436 (R8 612) in April, indicating a further drop in hotel pricing due to an excess of supply.

Airbnb, initially seen as a more affordable alternative, is also facing challenges. Numerous stories have emerged on South African travel groups of late, as well as on Reddit and TripAdvisor from last year, detailing instances of confirmed Airbnb bookings being cancelled as hosts seek to capitalise on higher demand. Furthermore, regulations surrounding houseboat stays (a popular – and romantic – self-catering option) and other alternative accommodation options are evolving. For example, the French government is reportedly set to impose sanctions and further taxation structures on Airbnb owners, adding another layer of complexity to the accommodation planning process.

Expert Guidance: Key Tips for a Successful Olympic Adventure

To navigate these challenges, South African travellers should consider the following expert advice:

  • Secure Accommodation

    South African travellers are advised to secure reputable accommodation for their Paris Olympic adventure. Reputable accommodation suppliers offer reliability, security, and peace of mind – essential factors when navigating a major event like the Olympics. By booking through trusted travel experts and tour operators, you can ensure your accommodation is confirmed and less susceptible to last-minute cancellations or changes.

    Antoinette Turner, General Manager of Flight Centre South Africa, emphasises the importance of securing hotel accommodation early. “While prices may have initially seemed prohibitive, the recent decline in rates presents a window of opportunity for South African travellers. However, availability will continue to dwindle as the Olympics approach, so it’s crucial to book your hotel stays as soon as possible.”

    • Work with Reputable Travel Experts

      During major events like the Olympics, having a knowledgeable travel expert on your side can make all the difference,” says Turner. “They can help you navigate changing regulations, find alternative accommodation options, and provide guidance every step of the way.”

      • Secure Comprehensive Travel Insurance

      Investing in comprehensive travel insurance is crucial, especially during a major event like the Olympics. Unforeseen circumstances, such as cancellations or medical emergencies, can be mitigated with the right coverage. Ensure that you understand the policy inclusions for your chosen cover.

      • Be Flexible

      With high demand and limited availability, it’s essential to book all travel elements well in advance. However, flexibility is equally important. Consider alternative airports, smaller cities connected by Europe’s excellent rail networks, or travelling slightly off-season in late August and September to catch the tail-end of summer.

      • Monitor Regulations and Advisories

      Stay updated on the latest regulations and advisories from official sources, such as the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the French authorities. These guidelines can help you plan accordingly and avoid potential complications during your trip.

      By following these expert tips and staying informed, South African travellers can navigate the Paris 2024 Olympics with confidence. Bring on the Olympics in the most romantic city on earth!


      Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) SA is part of Flight Centre Travel Group, an Australia-based international travel company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with a market cap of AU$4.38 billion and a current share price of AU$19.94 as of 26 June 2024. FCTG comprises three leading brands: Flight Centre, Corporate Traveller, and FCM, of which Corporate Traveller and FCM are proud level 1 BBBEE Contributors. FCTG SA is wholly owned and has been recognised as one of Deloitte’s Best Companies to Work for in South Africa for over a decade.

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