In 2024, Paris won’t be the only place hosting the Games. It will be joined by 63 towns that will accommodate athletes, officials, spectators and journalists, offering them a chance to be part of the unique experience of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Whether holding a sporting event, a tournament or an Athletes’ village, host towns will work hand in hand with Paris 2024. Around the Greater Paris region, from the north of France right down to the south, and even in France’s overseas territories with Tahiti hosting the surfing competition, they will all contribute to the success of Paris 2024.
Versailles – where culture and sport intertwine
Versailles will host the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian competitions, as well as the modern pentathlon, which will take place against a stunning backdrop within the Palace domain.
François de Mazières, Mayor of Versailles
What will it mean for a town such as Versailles to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
It’s an absolutely incredible opportunity for us. Versailles is known the world over for its Palace. It is a town steeped in history and it will be a true spectacle to open our gates to the world’s greatest sporting event. Visually, the backdrop will be breathtaking. The equestrian events will take place just in front of the Palace of Versailles, creating images that will be broadcast all around the world. It is important for our town to celebrate sport in this way, to enable our sports clubs to be a part of the event and further bolster involvement in sport. Versailles is a town that boasts a great many sports clubs and a vast range of sporting activities, and we are delighted to be able to shine a spotlight on them for the 2024 Games.
What is the relationship with Paris 2024 like? Are you in regular contact with the Organising Committee?
We are in very regular contact with Paris 2024. This collaboration goes well beyond the events held for the Games, as Versailles will offer an insight into the architecture projects underway for the Olympics and Paralympics at the Biennial of Architecture and Landscape in 2022 and again in 2024. We see it as an opportunity to start celebrating the Games as early as 2022 and catalyse a practice that unites and blends sport and culture in a way that suits the town of Versailles.That is why we are keen to showcase this dimension through the Biennial, which is heavily focused on sustainable development – another essential component of the Paris 2024 project.
Versailles has had to make a number of adjustments to put on the various Games events. Will these changes build a legacy that will last beyond 2024?
These adjustments will bring a great many advantages, especially when you take into account the catalysing effect of the Games. We undertook a vast heritage renovation programme, which paradoxically involves demolishing a rather large building located near the exit of the Palace gardens and represented a historic anomaly, has it had been built in the 1930s and looked rather out of place in the gardens. It will be taken down before the Games, which will leave a very positive lasting impact. The Games represent an opportunity to kick-start and step up the pace of a number of projects we have been undertaking for several years now, and we are very excited to take advantage of the situation. It will catalyse the major transformation programme we are conducting on the Palace of Versailles.
An international island welcoming the world
The town of Ile-Saint-Denis will host part of the Olympic and Paralympic village (spread across the three towns of St Ouen, Saint-Denis and Ile-Saint-Denis).
Mohamed Gnabaly, Mayor of Ile-Saint-Denis.
Your town will be welcoming some of the world’s greatest athletes. How do local residents feel about that?
Local residents and elected officials feel very proud about the prospect of welcoming some of the world’s greatest athletes to our town. Before, when people thought about Ile-Saint-Denis, they thought about the outlet village “Marques Avenue”, but now they always mention the Games!
What is special about Ile-Saint-Denis?
Our atypical village is home to 8,000 people, we’re surrounded by a number of large towns and on the outskirts of a capital city. Our long and narrow island spans 177 hectares, including a departmental park covering 30 hectares and a 40-hectare natural park. The construction of the Athletes’ village also involves building a new bridge across the Seine to connect our town with Saint Denis, which will improve our bus services. We are also working on developing our river banks, expanding the use of river transport, burying electricity lines, and renovating social housing, to name just a few of our projects. By 2030, the town will be completely transformed and the 2024 Games in Paris represents a considerable catalyst and enhancement for our projects.
The construction projects must prioritise sustainability, meeting a number of environmental requirements. Is that something that seemed important to you?
It’s a long-term commitment that’s for sure, but the Games push us to aim higher, to be more ambitious and innovative than we would have otherwise sought to be. Paris 2024 has really challenged us, we’re testing out a lot of new ideas that we probably would have otherwise been too cautious to look into.
The Games will build a legacy of 330 new homes. Is that something the town needed?
We had already planned to build these homes before the Games, to rehabilitate a part of the town that had been left uninhabited for 20 years since the logistics companies vacated the warehouses there. When we found out we would potentially host the Athletes’ village, we launched a consultation process with local residents and groups to gauge their appetite for getting involved in this kind of project. At the same time, we settled on our specifications, where our primary concern was to actively involve the local population and ensure they were the main beneficiaries of the project. The population in Ile-Saint-Denis includes 85 different nationalities, and we find that rather poetic, that our international island will be welcoming the world. Since, we’ve developed the project for the river eco-district, as the Games offer considerable extra momentum to get out and find funding, renovate our buildings and get our residents involved.
Colombes – the field hockey capital of France
The town of Colombes will host the Olympic field hockey tournament at the Yves-du-Manoir stadium. This historic stadium was the main venue for the 1924 Olympic Games, hosting in particular the opening ceremony and the athletics events. Patrick Chaimovitch, Mayor of Colombes, Vice-President of the Métropole du Grand Paris and Fatoumata Sow, Deputy Mayor in charge of Sports, Olympic and Paralympic Games, General Affaires, Metropolitan Affairs, Gender Equality and Anti-discrimination.
What does the Yves du Manoir Stadium mean for the town of Colombes?
Fatoumata Sow: The local residents are very proud of the stadium. It has been here for many years and has evolved to adapt to the passage of time. Back in 1924, it was the main stadium in the Paris area, and we are proud to have maintained this historical heartland of French sport.
Patrick Chaimovitch: We are all very proud to live in Colombes. You can’t think of Colombes without the Yves-du-Manoir stadium and vice versa. We felt it was very important it was involved in the 2024 Games.
How is the town getting ready for the Games?
F. S. : We are keen to get the local population into field hockey and the Games as a whole. We have added hockey to the range of sports played at the local sports centre that takes children from the local primary school on Wednesday afternoons. The town also has its own hockey club and the French field hockey federation is based here too. Colombes is well on the way to becoming the field hockey capital of France! In every sporting event we put on, we look to get as many people as possible involved in hockey. It’s gradually becoming part of the daily lives of local children, and they are bringing their families on board.
P. C.: Although field hockey is not as popular as football in France, we mustn’t forget that the sport, which is played by bother men and women, is hugely popular among millions of people around the world. We can harness hockey to build universal bridges with many Olympic and Paralympic philosophies, such as connecting with people from different backgrounds and different sports.
The Paris 2024 Games aim to be responsible. How are you pursuing this goal in Colombes?
P. C.: For the last year, we have been implementing a strategy that focuses heavily on the environmental transition, which aligns nicely with the Olympic priorities. We boast a vast public transport network and we continue to work relentlessly on developing the uptake of these services to minimise the use of individual cars. Furthermore, we are in the process of becoming a “30 km/h town”, with cycle lanes and enhanced accessibility for all.
F. S.: We really prioritised environmental considerations when we renovated our aquatics centre. Beyond the infrastructure involved in the Games, we have developed a plan to rehabilitate all our sporting facilities that factors in the environment.
Are there any changes that will be made to the Yves-du-Manoir stadium that will remain as a legacy after 2024?
P. C.: The Local Council has tasked us with modernising the stadium, which is why we dismantled the old seating, created new pitches that will then be used for rugby and football, fitted new changing rooms and developed an athletics area, all as part of a landscaped programme. Furthermore, the town of Colombes will also provide the training facilities for artistic swimming in our aquatics centre that will be renovated and adapted to host competitions and leisure swimming.
Nice – drawing strength from experience
During the Paris 2024 Games, Nice will host a number of matches for the Olympic football tournament.
José Cobos, Sports representative for the city of Nice.
For a city like Nice, which has already been involved in a number of major sporting events, such as Euro 2016, what does it mean to have the opportunity to host the Games?
Indeed, since 2008, the city of Nice has been involved in prestigious sporting events each year, including triathlons, marathons, the Paris-Nice cycling race and the start of the Tour de France, the World Figure Skating Championships, the men’s Euro 2016 and women’s 2019 World Cup in football, the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the Olympic football tournament in 2024. We’re delighted to be part of these global events, which we see as recognition for work put in over many years. Today, we extremely proud to be part of the Paris 2024 team, even though we would have felt involved in any case as sports lovers!
How will you tackle the question of public transport?
The stadium is easily accessible by tram. That’s important, and perhaps one of the reasons we are chosen to host all these events. Nowadays, the city of Nice operates a tram system, and a network of electric buses. Generally speaking, the events we put on take place in the heart of the city, which means everyone can get involved and enjoy the atmosphere, and that’s why the spirit of the Games will shine strongly in Nice for the tournament!
How do you go about working with Paris 2024 for such an event?
We are in regular contact with Paris 2024 as they are organising a major sporting event in France, so it just seemed natural that they would work closely with a city such as Nice, which celebrates sport all year every year. Today, we are working hand in hand to ensure the Games are a resounding success, 100 years after France last hosted the event. It’s an honour for France, which has a lot of experience in hosting major events, and we are all proud the city of Nice will play a part in this incredible adventure.