April 22, 2024

Driving to Paris from UK for Olympics 2024: Essential Tips

The Paris Olympics and Paralympics are fast approaching. Hordes of Brits (around 450,000) are expected to descend on the French capital this summer to enjoy the occasion.

They will be able to soak up the atmosphere and watch many of the 339 sparkling events, which will showcase the crème de la crème of no less than 33 sports.

Driving to Paris France Olympics from UK 2024

My strong opinion is: If you’re not going to Paris because you want to witness the Olympics, then I would highly recommend you avoid going there between the dates of 26th July and August 11th. It will be hectic.

Driving to France in July and August is always busy for ferry or tunnel crossings as are the main routes into Paris. With the additional crowds of people heading to the Olympics it will be a nightmare.

Accommodation in Paris is expensive at the best of times, so when you add the Olympics into the mix, then prices will be sky high.

On a more positive note

Avid sports fans among you will be glad to know there is one brand new sport being introduced this year, namely Breaking (breakdancing). They are also continuing to have contests in 3 sports that made their debut In Tokyo: Surfing, Skateboarding and Sport Climbing.

What is more, the Opening Ceremony will be open to the public for the first time. With so much to entice you, you might be planning a trip to France quite soon.

I've written an article you should read called "Day Trips from Paris" which offers some great ideas for places to visit outside of Paris.

In the rest of this piece, I’ll give you a guide to everything you need to know about driving to France and within the country this summer, covering everything from what you need to know before you go, places you can visit before you arrive in Paris and places to stay, right through to the best places to park and how to get tickets for events.

Throughout the article I’ll also highlight 3 things that will help you on your trip and 3 things you should avoid.

So here goes.

Things to Think About Before You Go

It’ll be no surprise to you that trips like this need a bit of planning. One of first things you need to think about is which route is best for you.

Driving to Paris, France. Best Routes

The two most common ways for people to get to Paris is via the ferry or the Eurotunnel. I’ll also cover a lesser known, more relaxing route to Paris for those of you who want the journey to be as much a part of your holiday as the eventual destination.

Driving to Paris from UK

·         The Ferry - This is the ferry from Dover to Calais.  Imagine you’re travelling from London. Travel south to get on the M20. You can continue on that motorway all the way to the port of Dover because it merges into the A20. Once you’ve had your passport checked you can get on the ferry which will take about an hour and a half to reach Calais. When you’re in Calais head straight down the A26, until the junction with the A1. Once you’re on the A1, it’s an easy, straight run to Paris.

·         The Eurotunnel - If you want to get where you’re going fast, instead of going straight down the M20 to Dover, get off at Junction 11A and signs will direct you to the Eurotunnel. The trip through the tunnel takes about 35 minutes, and then you can continue your journey the same as if had taken the ferry from Dover.

·         A More Relaxed Route - If you want to have a more relaxed journey to French capital, you could travel to the South Downs from London, through Brighton and through to Newhaven. From there, you can get on the ferry to Dieppe.

If you want to go on a bit of an excursion at this point, you could drive to Normandy, then through Rouen, perhaps stopping to visit the beautiful cathedral. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could visit the famous Palace of Versailles on the way to Paris. If you’re going in the summer though, it’s a good idea to visit the Palace as early as you can. You can drive to Paris via the A13.

Something to help you: Make sure you arrive at the ferry and check in at least 90 minutes before the ferry is due to leave to avoid any trouble. The recommended time for check in is quite fluid, during off peak times, 30 minutes is fine but if the French passport control people are up their tricks then delays can be measured in hours.

I strongly suggest you double check the day before setting off what the latest situation is, and plan accordingly.

Of course, you’ll want to stay on the right side of the law on your trip to France.

You might already be aware that Paris now has designated low emissions zones for motor vehicles. For lots of UK drivers who've never been to Paris or at least not for many years, they have no clue about this "new" scheme.

In essence you need to display a Crit’Air sticker to enter those areas, so you'll need to get one before you travel and it normally takes about 3 weeks to arrive.

I have done a Video explaining how to get one quickly if you've left it late.

Petrol and diesel vehicles which are registered earlier than 1997 are banned altogether on weekdays for the 12-hour window between 8am and 8pm. 

Something to avoid: Getting a fine of up to €135 for failing to display the correct Crit’Air sticker on your windscreen for the zone you want to enter.

Aside from this, French law requires that you have several things with you when you drive in France. Check out my comprehensive checklist for more detail, but here’re a few things you’ll need:

·         A valid and up to date passport for yourself and anyone you’re travelling with.

·         Proof of at least third-party insurance for your vehicle.

·         A valid MOT certificate if your vehicle is more than 3 years old.

·         A UK sticker to show on your vehicle and on any trailer/caravan you might be towing.

·         A warning triangle.

·         Hi Viz vest for everyone in the vehicle.

If you’re driving a motorbike, read our piece on Motorcycling in France.

Something to help you: Ensure you have European Breakdown Cover before you set off, just in case. Plus, if you’re planning to hire a car, I would do so as soon as possible, before prices sky rocket.

Later, I’ll talk about some places you might want to stop and see on the way to Paris. Now though, let’s go over some of the rules of the road.

Rules of the Road: Tolls and Speed Cameras

Luckily, the rules of the road in France, are much like ours, save of course for driving on the right side of the road and not on the left.  You will have to familiarise yourself with French road signs, and it’s worth knowing a little about toll roads and speed cameras.

Motorways in France are called Autoroutes and marked with an A. Most are run by private companies who charge a toll to use them. These are usually paid when a toll zone ends, or at the end of a motorway. 

It’s best to get to grips with the speed limits too. They are usually a bit higher than in the UK and are in km per hour. Here’s a useful converter.

Pay attention to them if you don’t want to get fined and watch out for the speed cameras.

Something to avoid: Devices that detect speed cameras are illegal in France, including ones built into Sat-Navs. So, make sure that if you’re using one that has a mode that might pick up speed cameras, that it’s disabled.

If you’re looking out for quieter less crowded roads, keep an eye out for ‘Bis’ on signs, which usually indicates less busy roads.

Do I need a Visa?

If you’re from the UK, you can travel in France for up to 90 days without a Visa.

Places to visit on the way.

It’s time to talk about some gorgeous places to visit on the way to the capital.

If you’re taking a longer route to Paris, you could visit Boulogne. A more direct route will take you near Arras and the beautiful town of Senlis, close to Paris. Here’s a little about each destination.

Arras France
Arras France


Famous for being the birthplace of Maximillian Robespierre and founded in the Iron Age by the Gauls, Arras is a beautiful town in northern France. You might choose to stop off in Arras on the road to Paris. You could sample the delicacies on offer at the vibrant market in the town, look over the town from the Belfry or visit the town hall if you’re an Art Deco enthusiast.

If you'd like to get more detailed information about Arras and some other wonderful places to visit in Northern France, read my Hidden Gems in Northern France article.


At just 15 minutes from Calais, Senilis might be the perfect place to stop at once you get off the ferry and fancy a quiet moment. You can while away a few hours visiting the beautiful cathedral, taking in the treasures found in the town’s museums. If you’re the intrepid sort, you may even venture down into the medieval cellars to dine at Grill des Barbares.


If you’re on a more relaxed road trip, you might want to think about visiting the costal city of Boulogne in northern France. You can explore the castle, the old town, where you can find the Basilica of Notre Dame, the most noticeable structure there is to see. You can also visit the fascinating medieval crypt located under the Basilica. Why not visit the National Sea Centre before you journey on to the capital? If you happen to be there in July, you could enjoy the Côte d'Opale festival too.

Next, I’ll talk about where you can stay when you do make it to the bright lights of Paris. 

Accommodation: Where to stay in Paris?

The prices will be outrageous during the games of that there is no doubt. Paris isn't the cheapest city in the world for hotel rooms at any time and during one of the biggest events in its history you'll be lucky to get a room at any price.

There are a few options for where you might stay in Paris, but the inflated Olympic prices will be prohibitive to many.

Something to avoid: Setting your heart on staying at a super fancy hotel at the centre of all the Olympic action, because the hotels found amid the action are probably fully booked up already. Thousands of rooms were booked as soon as Paris was announced as the host city.

Here’s what you can do instead, especially if staying in the central Paris proves unaffordable for you.

·         Book an AirBNB. There will be likely be loads on offer, because AirBNB are a massive sponsor of the games. You could even find one, close to the venue of the event(s) you’ve booked to see.

·         Book through ALL.com. Accor Live Limitless are a leading partner of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games. You can stay at some of the world’s most famous hotel chains, including Ibis, Pullman, Novotel and the like.

·         Use the On Location and Paris 2024’s Hospitality programme. The two organisations have worked together to offer many fantastic all-inclusive packages, designed to make your Paris experience even more memorable, by making it possible for you to stay in some of the best places around.

What are my parking options?

Traffic and parking in Paris during the Olympics will at best be challenging, and at worst, totally impossible.  Security will be tightened in some areas, and there will be a huge number of people in the city, all of which make parking even more difficult.

If you want to park your car in the city while the from late July to early September, you’ll be charged €50 a day as a flat rate. If you do park in Paris itself, you’ll want to pay attention to any plans the authorities may have to neutralise traffic in certain parts of the city. 

Here’s where to go to book parking based on the sports you’ve come to see.

·         Book the Interparking Bercy Arena Gare de Lyon car park if you’re visiting to see the basketball or gymnastics.

·         Book the François 1er, Marbeuf Champs Elysées or Berri Champs Elysées car parks if you’re slated to see BMX, Skateboarding, fencing or taekwondo.

·         For the cycling, you’ll want to book the Clichy Montmartre Interparking.

·         If you want to see archery or beach volleyball, reserve spaces at the Pullman Tour Eiffel carpark.

·         For rhythmic gymnastics, you’ll need to book a space at the Riquet Bassin de la Villette car park.

Always remember to check any travel restrictions in place.

Parking outside of Paris is always an option, but you’ll need to use public transport to get to the events themselves.

Something to help you: There are many Park and Ride facilities you can use not far outside of Paris, like those offered at the Maison Blanche Car Park to the south of the city, which offer reasonable prices. You might want to take advantage of them.

Later, I go into a bit more detail about how you can get around the city during the Olympics.

Now, though, let’s find out a little more about the games themselves.

When are the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics?

The Olympics will run between July 26th to August 11th. The Paralympics will follow between August 28th to September 8th.

Where are the Olympics & Paralympics taking place?

There will be 15 Olympic, and 11 Paralympic stadia, and the Games will spread to some of the suburbs, e.g. Seine-et-Marne.

Events like the sailing, football, handball, and basketball will be held in different places across the country including Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Nantes, and Bordeaux.

The surfing will happen in France’s overseas territory of Tahiti.

In Paris itself, the Stade de France will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the athletics and the rugby. Most the aquatic sports (e.g. the artistic swimming, diving, and water polo) will happen at the Centre Aquatique de Saint-Denis.

The shooting will take place at La Courneuve, and some rock-climbing will be hosted at Le Bourget.

The various stadia in Paris will also showcase skateboarding and BMX, as well as breakdancing, judo, and wrestling.

You’ll find the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics competitions at the Arena de La Chapelle.

You’ll have to venture to the Palace of Versailles to enjoy the equestrian events, and unsurprisingly, the tennis will take place at Roland Garros. The Triathlon events are planned for nearby, and the swimming will happen at La Défense Arena.

You will be able to see basketball, trampolining, and more at the Bercy Arena.

This is just a taste of what Paris 2024 has to offer. What would your favourite event be?

It seems the perfect time to talk about ways you can get around the city while this sporting spectacle is going on.

How to get around Paris during the Olympics

To give you an idea of just how busy Paris is likely to get this summer, about 15 million visitors are expected, on top of the usual July rush. The public are being reassured they will be able to get to all the venues — including those outside of Paris itself — via public transport.

There will be red and blue security perimeters applied to motorised vehicles while the games are on. You’ll only be able to enter red zones if you have tickets and can show valid ID at the checkpoints.

I’ll now go through various ways you could get around.

On Foot

Lots of the main events will take place in the heart of the city, which means there be little distance between some events, making it possible (and maybe even faster) to walk to them.

On a Bike

Paris has a fantastic network for people cycling around already, and it’s being extended for the Olympics, and will include thousands of spaces to park your bike. You won’t be subject to any security restrictions if you’re on a bicycle either.

On the Metro

You can buy a Paris Pass for the Metro which you can use to get to many of the main attractions in the city for a reasonable price.

You might want to forgo this option when the Olympics is on though, as the Paris Metro, is the second busiest in Europe, without the added crush of the Games. It might be easier to get the train above ground if you’re travelling to see an event outside of the city.

On a Bus

Most bus routes in Paris typically operate until around 8.30 in the evening, but it’s likely there will more bus services running while the Olympic Games are happening. You can buy tickets from Metro, at newsstands, and even from the bus driver, if you have the right change. Punch your ticket while you’re on the bus. Keep that ticket with you until you get off the bus, if you want to avoid a substantial fine for being on the bus with a ticket that hasn’t been punched.

What to know before you book tickets for events

It’s best not to book to many tickets for different events on the same day, because you must leave time for traveling between them and some extra for any unforeseen delays.

Organisers recommend that you arrive and hour and a half before each event too.

Next, I’ll go through how to get hold of some.

How to get tickets for Paris 2024

To get tickets, you’ll have to create an account and register on the official site for Paris 2024. All sales will go through the same official channel.  If you get tickets from elsewhere, you could be refused entry to events, and could even be prosecuted under French law if you’re caught selling tickets on. 

A resale platform will open on May 15th, that you might be able to take advantage of if you haven’t yet been able to get tickets to your favourite event. Someone my want to sell their ticket on the platform, that you can then snatch up. You can get to that platform via the official website.

Tickets are sold according to sport, tournament round, and category. Prices range from around €25 to just shy of €1000.

NB: You can only buy 6 tickets at any one time online, but you can buy up to 30 tickets using a single account.

Accessibility at Paris 2024

There will be much in place to help access the Paris Games.

·         Both the Olympic and Paralympic village have been built to be accessible to all.

·         There are adaptions to shuttles to make them more wheelchair-friendly, and most of the public transport in the city is already accessible.

·         A drop off zone near venues, which you will be able to access upon showing proof of your identity. 

·         A priority lane for disabled people, and those with mobility difficulties.

·         Special tickets are offered so that you can reserve wheelchair seating, and which offers the choice of audio description.

*My Opinion

Let me say that although I believe that the information is accurate at the time of posting you should not in anyway reply on it or base travel plans on it. Please independently verify before travelling or making any bookings.

Of course I also cannot take responsibility for any changes post publication. 23rd April 2024.


If you are not going specifically for the Olympics, I’d plan to go outside the Olympic dates if you possibly can. It will be so much easier and cheaper.

If you’re planning to see some of the Olympics, then I’m sure you’ve found all you need in this article to help you plan an unforgettable trip to Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

Don’t let the thought of the crowds put you off, and above all enjoy the roads and beautiful places you can visit when you’re driving in France.


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