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Paris is gearing up to host the greatest show on earth with a French flourish

Just months before the 2024 Olympic Games kick off, Rebecca Black visits Paris where world-class sport will be showcased alongside culture.


Ryder Cup Year to Go Media Event – Hotel Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower
General view of the Eiffel Tower ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Hidden behind closed doors not far from the Eiffel Tower, two of the world’s best breakdancers have drawn a crowd.


In the very shadow of that landmark is the Spot 24 centre, where Polish-born Paulina Starus and Colombian Jordan Silva Medina are among the athletes getting ready for the forthcoming Olympic Games. Adding to the excitement is the fact their sport, breakdancing, will be showcased for the first time.


Breakers Jordan Silva Medina (left) and Paulina Starus (right) perform a showcase at the Spot 24 centre in Paris as they prepare to compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in the French capital (Rebecca Black/PA)

Other ‘new’ sports to feature in the Olympics – include freestyle BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing, the latter of which will take place in Tahiti.


This year, exactly a century after they last hosted the Olympics, France will hold aloft the world famous torch once again. The French capital is set to be a host city along with Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Bordeaux, Nantes and Marseille, and organisers are promising a spectacular show with an opening ceremony outside along the banks of the Seine.


Even in the run-up to events, there are plenty of reasons to visit the city.


Writer Rebecca Black samples a taste of Paris as the French capital prepares to host this summer’s Olympic Games (Rebecca Black/PA)

I’m reminded that Paris is at heart a classic beauty as I check into the sumptuous Le Meurice Hotel on Rue de Rivoli within sight of the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.


The hotel opened in 1835 as a comfortable home from home for many British tourists travelling across the channel, before later becoming the favoured haunt of artists such as Salvador Dali.


Today its magnificent penthouse suite with a wrap-around roof top terrace offering views across the city has attracted some of the world’s biggest celebrities including Jay-Z and Beyonce.


I feel like I have been transported back to the city of Marie Antoinette at breakfast in a stunning room inspired by Versailles. Sampling the Alain Ducasse pastries increases my bliss as I bite into a crisp sweet pain au chocolat.


Try dinner in style with Ducasse Sur Seine (Pmonetta/PA)

A short distance away, I enjoy a dinner cruise with Ducasse Sur Seine, smoothly gliding through the water by electric propulsion, where the incredible scenery is only matched by the gastronomy. The sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night seem to ignite bubbles in my flute of champagne.


For every sporting venue featuring in the Olympics, there are scores of cultural attractions nearby to add to the visitor experience.


For example, the Olympic tennis and the boxing finals are set to take place at the Roland Garros stadium. A short distance away is one of the world’s most famous swimming pools where the bikini was first debuted. The art-deco style Molitor is now a hotel, restaurant and spa, and yes, the famous pools can be enjoyed.


The Roland Garros Stadium in Paris which will host the Olympic tennis tournament this summer. (Rebecca Black/PA)

The equestrian events are to be hosted at Versailles where those attending can also visit the historic home of French Royals, while the beach volleyball will take place under the Eiffel Tower and the Obelisk at the Concorde will witness skateboarding, breakdancing and BMX.


Arguably one of the most famous attractions in Paris is the Notre-Dame.


While repair work remains ongoing after the fire in 2019, it is still possible to experience the cathedral through the VR experience Eternal Notre-Dame. A backpack is strapped on my back and headset placed around my eyes to transport me to medieval France and the building of the cathedral.


From a bright sunny day, technology transports me to medieval dark back streets and the clanking of building work. Turning around, there is a whole scene and virtual guide who takes us on slightly surreal journey around the cathedral and across its history.


Maison Plisson is the perfect choice for all things cheese (SliceOfPai/PA)

Paris, of course, is renowned for its cuisine and even though athletes may be restricted in their diets, renowned chefs have prepared a unique gastronomic experience for them.


The work of Amandine Chaignot, Chef of Athletes Paris 2024, can be sampled at the restaurant Pouliche.


However, a trip to France is not complete – in my view anyway – without a croque monsieur. I try one at Maison Plisson, a food hall and restaurant with a heaving cheese counter.


Meanwhile for those with a sweet tooth, Paris’s only jam factory – Confiture Parisienne, in the heart of Viaduc des Arts – is a hidden gem. Aside from apricot and strawberry varieties, there are also surprisingly delicious combinations such as carrot, vanilla and passionfruit, specially created for the Olympics.


There may have been a 100-year break from when Paris last hosted the Olympic Games in 1924, but the events of this summer promise to set the standard of an incredible all-round experience for decades to come.


How to plan your trip


For further information and to plan your visit to France, visit parisjetaime.com/eng/.


 

BRITISH BREAKS


Discover the best places to visit across the UK with British Breaks, www.gbbreaks.co.uk.

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