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Which Quays, Bridges and Squares of Central Paris are Blocked This Month for the Olympics Set-Up? ⋆ Secrets of Paris

Over the past few weeks, as the stands, fan zones, and other temporary Olympic sites are being erected around the city, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what roads are open to taxis, whether cyclists can still access the quays, if any lawn on the Champs de Mars is still open for picnics…here’s the lowdown, with some photos taken during my bike ride around town on Sunday.

Spoiler Alert: We’re All a Bit Confused!

This article aims to let you know what parts of the city are closed off or heavily restricted in these final weeks leading up to the 2024 Paris Games, during the Olympic and Paralympic events, and afterwards as everything is packed up (based on City Hall’s official news).

I’m primarily focused on how popular areas of central Paris are affected, such as the quays and bridges of the Seine, the Champ de Mars (Eiffel Tower), Trocadero, the Esplanade des Invalides, the Champs-Elysées, and Place de la Concorde. The official list of ALL areas affected by the Olympics and the security perimeters around them can be found here.

To be honest, it’s confusing even for those of us living here, reading daily updates in the local French news, and trying to get around town via bike, metro, bus and car. On top of that, every day we seem to be getting new information from “official” sources (Public Transport Authority, City Hall, Olympic Committee), which in best cases clarifies things for us (like color coded maps) or in worst cases changes what was previously written (like the dates for metro station closures), resulting in a lot of conflicting reports in the press.

I’m doing my best to update anything written on Secrets of Paris in real time, so if you see anything that seems incorrect, contradictory, or refuted by another source, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Around Trocadéro

The stands of the “Parc des Champions” (free fan zone open to the public July 29-August 10th) have been set up at the foot of the Jardins du Trocadéro, the gardens between the Place du Trocadéro and the Pont d’Iéna (which is the bridge at the foot of the Eiffel Tower), for spectator seating for the marathon, cycling, and Seine swim events. It looks like they’ve actually covered over the fountains for the occasion. Here are two of the official photos showing what it looks like in both directions:

From July 1 through September 19th, the Jardins du Trocadéro are closed to all pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. This also includes the Avenue Albert-de-Mun and the south side of Avenue Wilson (between Albert-de-Mun and Place d’Iéna). Traffic on the Avenue des Nations Unies has already been closed to all traffic and pedestrians since May 31st.

Pedestrians coming from the Place du Trocadéro (and Esplanade des Droits de l’Homme) will be redirected to the east and west of the gardens to reach the Voie Georges Pompidou (the expressway along the Seine) and the Iéna bridge.

On July 16th, the entire Place du Trocadéro and Pont d’Iéna bridge will be closed to traffic, pedestrians, and bikes.

From July 22-26, the Pont d’Iéna is also completely closed to traffic, pedestrians, and bikes. Interruptions on the bridge will continue through August 12th, although it seems to only affect vehicles once the Opening Ceremony has passed. If you absolutely have to get to the other side of the Seine from Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower (or the Olympic events on the Champ de Mars) at a specific time, try and give yourself some extra time to get there in case you end up having to walk all the way to Pont Alma to cross (in the meantime I will try and find confirmation about pedestrian access after July 26th).

Everything will be back to “normal” by October 8th (!!!), but if you are at Trocadéro during any of the periods mentioned above and have reserved timeslot tickets for the Eiffel Tower (or an Olympic event on the Champ de Mars, as mentioned below), you’ll need to factor in how you’ll get across the Seine and the extra time it may take.

Also note that the two museums at the Place du Trocadéro’s Esplanade des Droits de l’Homme (Cité de l’Architecture and the Musée National de la Marine) are partially open during the Olympics, so make sure you have purchased your ticket in advance on their website, and to make sure you allow enough time to get your Pass Jeux QR code if you’re visiting from July 18-26.

Around the Champ-de-Mars & Eiffel Tower

The Champ de Mars law in front of the Eiffel Tower has two Olympic sites, the temporary “Stade Tour Eiffel” (Eiffel Tower Stadium) for the beach volleyball and paralympic soccer matches, set up where the Avenue Joseph-Boulard crosses the Champ de Mars (officially called Place Jacques-Rueff). The Grand Palais Ephémère at the far end of the park, just across from the Ecole Militaire at Place Joffre, is also being transformed into the Champ de Mars Arena to host the judo and wrestling events. Here’s the official photo of what it will look like once completely set up (taken from the Eiffel Tower):

The Eiffel Tower Stadium and the Champ de Mars Arena (aka Grand Palais Ephémère).

Closed to all traffic and pedestrians since June 26th, the Champ de Mars has already been progressively cut off to traffic for setup between March and the end of June. Don’t expect to be able to picnic there anytime before October 7th, with the ongoing dismantling of the temporary stadium possible through November 4th.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower

You can now purchase tickets online for all visits through August 11th, except for exceptional closures on July 14th for Bastille Day, the morning of July 15th, and the Olympics Opening Ceremony on July 26th.

From July 18th-25th, you absolutely have to have a reservation to be able to access the site. To complicate things, there are two options: purchase your timed ticket online as usual to visit the Eiffel Tower, or reserve a free timed ticket to access the ticket office at the Eiffel Tower (where you’d then be able to purchase your tickets for the visit, as long as there are still spaces left). The second option is basically an “option to buy” for those who don’t want to commit to pre-purchasing their tickets. Normally you could roll up to the ticket counter any given day and just see what’s available at the last minute (I recommend going later in the evening, as there’s usually no line at all after 8pm). But since the security is high during this time, you need the pre-reserved “access ticket” to even get to the ticket counter. It kinda removes the whole point of allowing for last-minute flexibility (and also doesn’t guarantee there will be any spots left), but at least if you change your mind you haven’t already shelled out for a paid ticket.

Check the official Eiffel Tower website for more info: https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/news/visit/visiting-eiffel-tower-and-during-olympic-games

From July 27th-August 11th, you can purchase tickets online or at the ticket counter as usual. The Eiffel Tower is open during its usual summer hours.

Caveat Emptor! I usually recommend tickets be purchased directly through the Eiffel Tower website, since ALL pre-purchased tickets for a specific time slot are “Skip the Line”, I don’t see the point in paying twice or three times that price to have an underpaid guide spout off a bunch of generic anecdotes (you can read them on your phone while waiting for the elevator, a wait you’d still have to endure even with a tour guide). This summer I think this is doubly important to only purchase through the official website since there are so many unknowns surrounding the Olympics, I think introducing a third-party tour company into the mix just seems to be a recipe for disaster.

July 14th Bastille Day Fireworks & Concert

There will be fireworks from the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro Gardens at 11pm on July 14th for the Fête Nationale, but because of the Olympics setup on the Champ-de-Mars and Trocadéro Gardens, you’ll have to watch from another vantage point in Paris that has a view of the Eiffel Tower (there are many, such as the Carrousel Gardens at the Louvre). The symphonic concert that usually takes place under the Eiffel Tower will instead be in front of the Hôtel de Ville from 9pm, where the Olympic Flame will be lit. Both can be watched for free on French TV channel France 2 (or online at https://www.france.tv/france-2/ if you’re in France).

Around Place de la Concorde and Tuileries

The temporary stadium at the Place de la Concorde will host several Olympic events, including breakdancing, skateboarding, BMX bikes, and 3×3 basketball. Here’s the official photo of what it looks like from afar, where you can see the Luxor Obelisk at the center (and also the bleachers already set up on the Alexander III Bridge with the golden statues):

Official photo of Place de la Concorde Arena

It has been progressively cut off from vehicle traffic since the spring, although pedestrians and cyclists can still go through the north end of it (from the Rue de Rivoli to the Champs Elysées via Avenue Gabriel), so the Hôtel de la Marine, the Cordon Bleu Cooking School, and the Crillion Hôtel are accessible. Rue Royal leading to Madeleine and the Concorde Bridge (access to Cours la Reine) remain open. The entrance to the Tuileries Gardens is closed along the Place de la Concorde, but there’s a temporary pedestrian “bridge” accessible on Rue de Rivoli across from Rue Castiglione, and at the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (the footbridge to the Musée d’Orsay).

Here are some of my photos (click to see full size) and a graphic:

If you have reserved tickets for the Musée de l’Orangerie (required July 14th-September 1st, and recommended before then), you’ll see the signs pointing to it from both entrances. The Jeu de Paume is closed until September 28th.

Place de la Concorde will start reopening to regular traffic September 7, and will be completely open by October 30th.

Around the Grand Palais & Alexandre-III Bridge

The Grand Palais on the Champs Elysées has been closed the past four years for extensive renovations, but will be reopening to host the fencing and taekwondo events during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Alexandre-III bridge will host the cycling, triathlon and marathon swimming events of the Olympic Games, and the para triathlon events of the Paralympic Games.

The area around the Grand Palais is partially blocked on the west side, but Avenue Winston Churchill (the street running between it and the Petit Palais) is currently open to pedestrians. Access to the Petit Palais Fine Arts Museum is open here, and right next door is the newly erected boutique for official Paris 2024 Olympics souvenirs (most of them made in China, sigh), on the corner of the Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Avenue Winston Churchill. Here are some of my photos from yesterday:

Note: the closest metro station, Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau (Lines 1 and 13), is closed July 20-September 8th. The nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station (Line 9) will remain open all summer.

The Alexandre-III Bridge still has a narrow area for pedestrians to cross (and I did ride my bike along there, although I’m not sure I was supposed to, lol!), but the massive stands are already set up on 90% of the bridge. This will be completely closed to anyone without a ticket during the Opening Ceremony and the week leading up to it July 18-26), and reopen completely to all traffic September 20th.

The Esplanade des Invalides

The massive lawn of the Esplanade des Invalides will be hosting the archery events and stands for the road cycling races. The lawns are completely closed off to the public, as well as all of the roads that cross it (Avenue Gallieni between Quai d’Orsay and Rue de Grenelle, Rue Saint Dominique and Rue de l’Université between Rue Fabert and Rue Constantine). This is what it looks like at the moment (my back is to the Seine):

The Olympic Stadium at Les Invalides

The reopening of the side streets and esplanade at Invalides will begin September 18th and be completely finished by the end of October. You can enter the Musée de l’Armée and Napoléon’s Tomb at Invalides from Place Vauban or Rue de Grenelle.

The Bridges and Quays of the Seine

Possibly the only really annoying closure (at least for those of us without cars) is the closure of the quays along the Seine to set up the Opening Ceremony bleachers. Because now that it’s nice out, that’s prime apéro real estate! Here are some photos from Sunday of Parisians still enjoying some of the quays as preparations for the Opening Ceremony begin (click to see full size):

Both will be completely closed to anyone without a QR code from July 18th through July 26th, from the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Pont d’Iéna, on both the Left Bank and Right Bank. There will also be some disruptions and closures before to get everything set up.

Some Vocabulary

The Lower Quays (quais bas) are the ones right along the river, no cars are down there, but there are several péniche bars. The Upper Quays (quais hauts) are the street-level sidewalks, like where the bouquiniste book sellers are set up. And ponts are the bridges.

The following bridges will be open at all times to pedestrian traffic throughout the summer (except for a half hour before and during the Opening Ceremony); the Pass Jeux QR code will be necessary July 18-26th:

  • Pont des Invalides
  • Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge (connecting the Orsay and the Tuileries, pictured below)
  • Pont Notre-Dame and Petit-Pont Cardinal-Lustiger
  • Pont de Sully
Léopold-Sédar-Senghor Footbridge
Thomas Jefferson at the entrance of the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor Footbridge

Day-by-Day Maps of Open Quays and Bridges

To make it super easy to understand which quays and bridges are accessible or not on a given day from July 1st through 26th, Paris City Hall made a bunch of visuals for us (click here if you want to download the full-sized images in a PDF), scroll right to see each date:

Color codes:
Grey = unaffected
Green = partially impacted, but open to circulation for everyone
Yellow = partially impacted by closures, but open evenings and weekends
Red = completely closed except for residents and establishment receiving the public

Starting July 27th, temporary structures will be partially dismantled allowing partial access, but may last a few weeks for full access.

For Cyclists

Officially speaking, the cycle routes along the Seine and the center of Paris and Trocadéro will be interrupted or modified from June 27th until October. A bit like cycling in Paris pre-2019. 😉

Here are the main deviations in the center of Paris:

  • The Berges de la Seine (lower quays that used to be expressways) are closed to cyclists on the Left Bank between Pont d’Iéna and Pont Royal (basically the Eiffel Tower until the Musée d’Orsay), and on the Right Bank between the Pont Louis Philipe (Marais) and the Senghor footbridge (Tuileries), including the Tuileries tunnel.
  • The Right Bank Cours la Reine and the bike path along the Seine on both banks from the Pont des Invalides to the Debilly footbridge are also closed, but there are supposedly signs showing a deviation for cyclists, don’t ride your bike on the expressway!
  • The two-way cycle path on the Left Bank upper quays will be closed between the Pont de la Concorde and the Pont Royal. Bicycles will be prohibited against the flow of traffic (towards St-Michel) on this section, with a diversion via rue de Lille and rue de Beaune (yesterday I saw the signs already painted on the street showing this deviation).

I rode my bike around Paris from the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Place de la Concorde, crossed the Pont Alexandre III and back along the upper quay bike paths. If you’re riding towards Concorde along Rue de Rivoli, you’ll start seeing signs for cyclist deviations when you reach the Louvre. The most complicated area is around Place de la Concorde and Pont Alexandre III, but if you’re going to the Champs Elysées just follow Avenue Gabriel then down Avenue de Marigny, as shown in the fifth photo below:

I actually rode my bike down the Avenue Winston Churchill (right past the police filter on the Champs Elysées) and then across the Pont Alexandre III (slowly, because it’s clearly just supposed to be for pedestrians now). They will probably eventually start enforcing the cyclist deviation to the Pont des Invalides. This being Paris, cyclists will go wherever no one (or thing) physically prevents them from going.

 Sorry, I didn’t even attempt to cycle to Trocadéro from the 13th arrondissement, too much hill for my leg-powered Dutch bike (maybe next week). The deviations there seem pretty straightforward, though, as shown in this graphic:

I noticed there were a lot of newly painted bike path markers as mentioned above, which will show the deviations. When in doubt, especially if there are two conflicting bike directions, follow the one that looks freshly painted! 😉

I summarized this cycling info from the official page here (warning: the English version isn’t up to date): https://www.paris.fr/pages/des-circulations-velo-modifiees-pour-l-organisation-des-jeux-26937

Olympics Q&A Sessions with Heather

Still confused? Become a Secrets of Paris Community Member to join Heather’s weekly Olympics Q&As via Zoom starting July 7th!

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