We all know that Paris is the city of love, but this summer it’s also going to be Europe’s foremost city of sport. Whether you are planning to spectate or compete, and regardless of whether it is running, racing, or battling it out on ice which gets your adrenalin pumping, the city has a packed sporting calendar to enjoy.
Paris Marathon: 9 April
50,000 runners compete in the Paris Marathon each year, and it boasts one of the most tourist-friendly routes on the planet. The race starts on the Champs-Élysées, it passes the Bastille, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musee D’Orsay, and of course the Eiffel Tower, and finishes at the Arc de Triomphe. The record route time of 2h 05 min 02s was set by Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele in 2015, and there will be plenty of big names competing in this year’s race in the hope of taking his crown. The bridges across the Seine are great points to watch the race from, but they tend, understandably, to get crowded. You might, therefore, consider instead taking a picnic and finding yourself a spot along the race route in the Bois de Boulogne park, just before the finishing line.
Ice Hockey World Championships: 5 May — 21 May
The 2017 Ice Hockey World Championships is split between two locations, Paris and Cologne. All the Group B matches are happening in Paris’ AccorHotels Arena, and it’s here that you’ll be able to watch world champions Canada compete against teams including Switzerland, Norway, Finland and France. Canada is undoubtedly the favourites for the competition, but in ice hockey there’s never a dead cert.
Roland Garros – The French Open: 22 May — 11 June
Roland Garros is France’s answer to Wimbledon, and the French Open is one of the most fiercely contested tennis competitions in the world. Rafael Nadal, Rodger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic will all be fighting for glory in Paris this summer, and the Juniors Tournament gives you the chance to catch some of the sport’s future stars in action. Tennis aficionados should check out the RG Lab during their visit: this innovative display space showcases the latest technology, including virtual tennis and 360° live match broadcasts. You’ve never seen — or played — tennis quite like this before.
Tour de France: 23 July
The Tour de France is the ultimate in long distance cycle races. The full race around France takes place over three weeks (so you can also catch it this year in cities such as Bergerac and Marseilles), but the final stage is from Montegeron to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a distance of 105 km. Last year’s winner Chris Froome of Team Sky will be hoping to repeat his stellar performance, and he’s the favourite for this year’s race, but Australian Richie Porte and Colombian Nairo Quintana are also serious contenders to watch.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: 30 September — 1 October
Paris’ sporting season continues straight into the autumn with the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Often called “the greatest horse race in the world”, last year more than 41,000 spectators watched it in person, and 1 billion watched on TV. The races are held this summer in the Hippodrome de Chantilly, with a stunning chateaux as their backdrop, and there’s a real festive atmosphere. You’ll join an exceptionally glamorous crowd for flat racing, betting, and drinking Champagne, and can also try out racing simulators, party with the DJs, and indulge in some first rate celebrity spotting.
Fly: EasyJet has return flights from London Gatwick to Paris Charles de Galle from £60 return this summer, as does Vueling.
Transfer: Paris airport taxi firm T2Transfer will arrange an airport pick-up and drop you either to your hotel or straight to the sports event venue.
Where to stay: Accommodation in Paris tends to be on the pricey side, especially in summer when demand is highest, but if you book well in advance then you’ll have plenty of variety to choose from. If you’re going to splash out for something really special, look at Saint James Paris, a chateaux close to the Arc de Triomphe. For a more budget-friendly option, choose a charming guesthouse like Manoir de Beauregard or La Villa Paris.
Check out our dedicated Paris page for more info on what to see and do in the French capital.