Why Paris and its region are ideal sporting destinations
There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a major sporting event and the Rugby World Cup truly is up there with the biggest on the sporting calendar.
But it takes the right city, or region, to capture the atmosphere properly and after spending a few days in and around Paris during the World Cup, I’ve got no doubt that next year’s Olympics will be a massive success and well worth a visit for any Australian considering a trip.
I also wouldn’t mind a week at Roland Garros, or spending some time around the Tour de France either, but it’s probably best I don’t get too greedy for now.
First and foremost, the French have been amazing all the way through the tournament and have added to the experience of every foreign rugby fan travelling around the country.
Sure, it had a bit to do with the fact they were extremely excited about the prospects of Les Bleus, but even after France’s narrow quarter final loss to South Africa, rugby and non-rugby fans were still eager to chat rugby, or find out more about our trip whenever they heard our foreign accents in a bar or cafe.
The French are an extremely proud nation and the Parisians epitomise this. Not only are they proud of their nation’s sporting achievements, but they also love their country and Parisians always seem eager to tell you about their favourite part of the city or region, or a hidden gem to visit that is off the traditional tourist trail.
And there are no shortage of those.
I spent time during a street art tour in Saint-Denis talking about the Wallabies troubles, while my time at a flea market in Saint-Ouen was split between searching for vintage vinyl records and chatting about France’s chances with or without recently injured halfback Antoine Dupont.
The Parisians know their sport and they love that you have chosen to visit their part of the world to enjoy the culture that comes with it.
The other big plus Paris and its region have going for them are the live sites set up around the city doing major events.
Anyone in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics will remember how brilliant it was to sit and watch a range of sports for free alongside fans from all parts of the world on big screens in and around the city.
But imagine the atmosphere you’d get if you had one live site, smack bang in the middle of the city that can fit 40,000 odd people. That’s essentially what you get in Paris.
And it’s surrounded by some of France and the world’s biggest attractions. On one side you have the Eiffel Tower. On another you look down the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Behind the live site, is the River Seine and to one side of that is the beautiful Hôtel de la Marine.
If you head a little further out of Paris, you’ll also be able to watch in the beautiful streets of Versailles, which will host the Golf, Equestrian and Pentathlon nearby.
In fact, the Olympic events will be held right across the most beautiful suburbs of Paris, allowing you to explore the whole city and region.
There is so much to see and do around Paris and its region both on and off the beaten track. It really is worth spending at least 3-4 days on top of your time at your chosen sporting event.
But after doing all that, Paris is also an extremely convenient base for further travels across France or Europe.
There are two major airports and multiple major train stations that can take you to most parts of France or Europe within a few hours.
Paris and its region really do have it all and if you get a chance to come across for a sporting event in the near future, be sure to give yourself enough time to discover it all properly.