Key cultural and sporting events in France in 2024

The Olympics and a Tour de France first are among the highlights of a jam-packed cultural calendar

The most important sporting event taking place this year will be the Olympics and Paralympics, held in Paris

By far this year’s biggest and most talked-about event will be the Olympic Games in Paris; we round-up some key points to look forward to, plus other culture and events in France this year

Paris Olympics

The Olympic Games in Paris, from July 26 to August 11, and Paralympics from July August 28 to September 8, will be the biggest event of the year in France with many innovations planned. Many commentators have hoped they may be remembered as a success similar to the 2012 London games.

Among the novelties to look out for will be:

  • The Olympic torch will arrive in the spring in Marseille on board the Belem, Europe’s oldest three-mast sailing ship. Some 10,000 people will each complete 200m stretches as torchbearers as the torch makes its way around every region of France starting in Marseille on May 8.

  • There will be a key role for the Seine river. In the opening ceremony more than 160 boats will carry the national teams 6km along the river from the Pont d’Austerlitz to Trocadéro, across from the Eiffel Tower with hundreds of thousands of spectators expected to line the banks to watch.

  • During certain events athletes will swim in the river, which has been undergoing clean-up operations. However, the public will not, as at one point planned, be invited to swim in it – that will have to wait for 2025.

  • France wants partly to use the games to promote its culture and heritage, as such many events will be held in museums and at national monuments – such as fencing in the Grand Palais, archery at Les Invalides, volleyball in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower at the Champ de Mars, or the Château de Versailles where the equestrian competitions are to be held.

  • The reconstructed spire of Notre-Dame should be in place, it is planned (the cathedral itself should be fully open by the end of the year).

  • There will be sailing events at southern port city Marseille and surfing in Tahiti - the furthest an Olympic event has ever been held from the host city.

  • An Olympic village is being constructed covering some 50 hectares in Seine-Saint-Denis and a new aquatic centre is opening near the Stade de France. Many buildings forming the ‘village’ will become social housing afterwards.

  • A ‘Parc des Champions’ will be installed in the Trocadero Gardens near the Eiffel Tower, where the public will be able to mingle with the Olympic competitors and see medals awarded.

  • Open-air sports that are taking place wholly or partly in public will be visible with people able to line the streets of Paris or along the banks of the Seine to watch disciplines such as marathon running and road cycling. Rowing, open water swimming and triathlon will also be visible to the public.

  • Other free-access events include canoeing-kayaking (Vaires-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne), BMX racing, mountain biking and golf (Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines) and the Marseille and Tahiti events.

  • The Paralympics will take place in the same venues as the Olympics and France wants to use them to highlight the importance of inclusion for people with disabilities.

  • There will be new events especially aimed to appeal to the young, including surfing, skateboarding and climbing – however e-sports (video game competitions), considered at one point, will not be included.

  • The government said more than 400 km of new cycle lanes are being installed in time for the events and they will remain afterwards.

  • An ultra-light railway with small electric ‘pods’ for one or two people, is to be trialled during the Olympics, as are ‘flying taxis’.

  • The public will get used to seeing the games’ mascot, the Phryge, based on the revolutionary symbol the Phrygian bonnet, as worn by Marianne. Opinion is divided as to how appealing these are, however at least some of them are being made in France, after controversy that they would be made in the far-east.

‘Unprecedented’ impressionist art tour

The world’s leading museum of impressionist art, the musée d’Orsay is sending an ‘unprecedented’ number of masterpieces – 174 – on tour across France and the US to mark the movement’s 150th anniversary. The first impressionist exhibition was in Paris on April 15, 1874.

Read more: France and the US to host major impressionist art tour

Sculpture park in Normandy

The forêt monumental de Rouen, located from Roumare to Canteleu, will show off huge sculptures in the open air in a forest setting over four kilometres, from June 2024 to June 2026.

It is the second time such a show has been organised.

Bruce Springsteen to perform one-off concert

The legendary US singer-songwriter and guitarist will perform in Marseille in May, in the only French date of a European tour.

Read more: Bruce Springsteen announces concert (just one) in France in 2024

The Voice contestant to sing in Eurovision

A former winner of TV talent show The Voice, Slimane, who has since developed a successful career in France, will be representing the country in Eurovision on May 11. His song is called Mon amour.

Read more: Former winner of TV’s The Voice to represent France at 2024 Eurovision

Vendée Globe

The 10th Vendée Globe sailing competition will see 40 skippers taking part in the gruelling round the world biennial solo race. It will leave the Sables d’Olonne on November 10 at 13.02.

Celebrations of links with Armenia

2024 will see several events celebrating the ties between France and Armenia. There is a large community of Armenian origin in France and France recently announced its support over an ongoing dispute with its neighbour Azerbaijan.

These events include:

  • In February the remains of Missak Manouchian, a French-Armenian poet, Resistance hero and Armenian genocide survivor will be placed in the Panthéon with his wife Mélinée, who also fought in the Resistance.

  • A new section of the Louvre museum will open devoted to Byzantine art and eastern forms of Christianity, in which Armenia will have a central role.

  • The 100th anniversary of the birth of Charles Aznavour will be marked on May 22. The year is also, on January 9, the centenary of a major Armenian cinematographer, Sergeï Paradjanov.

Tour de France

Exceptionally, this year the Tour de France will end in Nice, on July 21, and not along the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

It will be the first time the event, which started in 1903, has not finished in Paris. This aims at lightening the burden on the capital, where the Olympics will be about to start.

The Tour will start in Italy, in Florence, on June 29, and will have four stages in Italy. The women’s race will also start abroad, in the Netherlands, and is short this year, sandwiched between the dates of the Olympics and Paralympics, on August 12-18.

Read more: Tour de France 2024 route revealed: Will it pass near you?