[ON LOCATION] BARBARA SCOFIDIO
It’s an exciting time to visit Paris, as preparations are underway for the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games July 26 to Aug. 11.
A recent familiarization visit hosted by Paris je t’aime Convention Bureau, Paris Region Tourism Board and Atout France showcased many sports-themed venues that can be used for activations, along with a few surprises.
The Paris 2024 Olympics will have 32 sports and 329 events, all taking place throughout the city and using already-existing venues, other than the Olympic Aquatics Centre, now under construction. Much of the action will take place in what is called the main “Grand Paris Zone,” an area that includes the national stadium, Stade de France, which will host the closing ceremonies.
Paris 2024 is breaking new ground by, for the first time, not holding the opening ceremony in a stadium; it will be held in the heart of the city, along the Seine. The 10,500 athletes will cross through the center of the city of Paris, with the parade coming to its end in front of the Trocadero.
Our agenda showcased a variety of venues for group events, from the private boxes and meeting spaces at Stade de France (22 event spaces in all sizes); to Climb Up Aubervilliers, the largest rock climbing facility in Europe; to the home of handball, Maison du Handball, with 14 meeting rooms (including an auditorium for 300) and 72 accommodations; to the Le Five sports complex, which can accommodate 200 for cocktails with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
A completely different venue for group events is the 20,000-seat Accor Arena, which has stylish spaces with a distinctly Parisian vibe that can be privatized, and even an ice rink. For groups seeking out a more traditional brand of luxury, our opening cocktail event at Paris City Hall included elegant hors d’oeuvres and an exhilarating performance by a talented troupe of street dancers.
It’s virtually impossible to describe Paris without tales of its unforgettable food—and this visit was no exception, showcasing the range of possibilities for groups. Start with a takeover of B.O.U.L.O.M, a family-style buffet restaurant literally tucked behind a boulangerie in the 18th arrondissement. Former Top Chef France candidate chef Julien Duboue partners with local food artisans to source his charcuteries, oysters and meats. On the other end of the spectrum was the final evening at the chic Bonnie, on the top floor of the 162-room SO/ Paris (Accor). The outdoor terrace features a mirrored ceiling signed by the Icelandic-Danish architect and artist Olafur Eliasson and a front-seat view of the Eiffel Tower’s sparkling nightly light show.
For the first part of the trip, our group was based at the sparkling new Tribe Hotel (Accor) in San Ouen, a residential area north of the center of Paris, with close proximity to Stade de France and known for its sprawling flea market and thrift shops.
The neighborhood is bustling with construction and cranes as far as the eye can see, and it’s clear that gentrification is taking hold. This location will be a coveted one for Olympic visitors and participants.
With its contemporary, industrial design featuring exposed ceilings, concrete and wooden floors, the 112-room Tribe would appeal to a younger, Millennial group. It feels almost more like a home away from home than a hotel, with its nondescript entrance, no front desk (we were checked in by a person at one of the lobby tables) and plenty of gathering places like the lobby bar and patio terrace.
Then it was onto the heart of Paris for the rest of the stay, where we based ourselves at the elegant 213-room Sofitel Scribe Paris Opera, just a block away from the Palais Garnier—probably the most famous opera house in the world—as well as the Place Vendome and the Galeries Lafayette. The Scribe’s rooms and suites were re-imagined in 2020 to resemble Parisian apartments, with the goal of immersing guests in the typical atmosphere of a Haussmannian residence in Paris.
The possibilities for incentive groups at Galeries Lafayette are endless, from a macaron-baking class or a gastronomic cooking class in collaboration with the prestigious Ferrandi Paris school, held in its own private kitchen, to exclusive sessions with a personal shopper in its sumptuous VIP suite of private rooms. Build in plenty of free time for attendees to explore its 280 shops, from high-end and emerging designers to elegant housewares—and to sample the delights from its dozens of gourmet pâtisseries and boulangeries.
en.convention.parisinfo.com; visitparisregion.com/en/about-us; atout-france.fr