Paris, France, is getting ready to welcome the 2024 Olympic Games from July 9 through August 11. Given the late edition of Tokyo 2022 (in 2023), this is a short cycle for both athletes and fans alike.
In the last week, the marathon route for Paris 2024 has been revealed, and it’s going to be a beauty. The route has been described by the organizers as “spectaculaire, exigeant, inspirant” – breathtaking, demanding, inspiring. The marathon course is all of these things, and more. It’s a 26.2 mile (42km) tour around one of the most iconic cities in the world, with a side-serving view of the history and forests lying just outside of its boundaries.
A Marathon For All
One of the key goals of the Paris 2024 committee is opening up the Olympic and Paralympic experience to the general public. Before the elites take to the streets, Paris will host the Paris 2024 Mass Participation Marathon, allowing a total of 20,024 (get it?) amateur athletes to experience first hand the same course as the Olympic athletes. Another shorter race will take place within the same city limits, taking in all the sites, but packed into a more accessible 10K distance. In line with the Paris 2024 organizers committing to gender equity, entries to both citizen’s races will be spread equally between female and male athletes.
Paris 2024 Marathon Route
Runners and spectators during the Olympic Games will be treated to some of the classic Parisian landmarks, plus the wooded parks and forests lying between the bustle of the capital and the village of Versailles, home to the eye-opening château of the same name.
The course will pass through 9 districts: Paris – Boulogne-Billancourt, Sèvres, Ville d’Avray, Versailles, Viroflay, Chaville, Meudon, and Issy-les-Moulineaux.
Sit back and take an armchair meander through the course before you start planning your trip.
Hôtel de Ville and Opéra de Garnier
Miles 0 – 1.6 / Kilometer: 0 – 3
Starting off at a Parisian classic, the local town hall, the athletes head west. They run parallel to the River Seine, before trotting off to the first landmark of the route at mile 1.6. The Opéra Garnier, at the end of one the classic boulevards in the city, is opulence at its finest. It’s a space for theatrical plays and ballet performances, but think of any print advertisement featuring a Parisian backdrop, and you’ve probably seen it. The exterior is as impressive as the interior, with its famous copper roof, turned green with age, guarded by two enormous gold gargoyles that could be the nightmare of pre-race dreams.
Tourist Tip: While the cafés around the Opéra Garnier might add a “scenery tax” to their beverages, it’s worth the extra euro or two to spend an hour contemplating every detail of this iconic building streetside.
Pyramide du Louvre
Miles 2.5 – 3 / Kilometers 4-5
Housing some of the most important and historical art in Europe, the Louvre is the next stop for marathon runners. They pass by the modern glass pyramid built in front of the imposing building that eases visitors into the museum. It’s a bold juxtaposition of the modern and the historic. As controversial as it was at the time of being built, the French have embraced la pyramide as part of their modern history.
Tourist Tip: Located right next to the Louvre are the urban Jardins du Luxembourg, a formal park to escape the sidewalks and take a stroll à la parisien.
La Seine and Leaving The City
Miles 3 – 10 / Kilometers 5-17
Passing along the banks of the River Seine, runners will pass next to the Grand Palais and get a glimpse across the river to the finish line at Les Invalides. They score their first uninterrupted view of La Tour Eiffel on the other side of the bank around kilometer 8. Athletes then follow the classic boulevards and head out on the long, straight journey out of the city.
The Town and Château de Versailles
Approx Miles 12.5 – 14 / Kilometers 20 – 23
Just over halfway in the race, the athletes get to experience the playground of Louis XIV and the town and palace of Versailles. The only word to describe this chateau is regal. Its architecture and interior are a showcase of royal opulence, before the French Revolution put an end to the monarchy. With manicured gardens complete with lakes and views of the palace, both runners and spectators will take an extra breath as the marathon route passes by.
Tourist Tip: With an easy train journey from the city on the RER line, you can easily spend a full day taking in the grandeur of the palace and enjoying the street cafés of the town.
Forêt de Meudon
Approx Miles 15 – 18.5 / Kilometers 24 – 30
Heading out of Versailles on one of the main boulevards, runners get a respite from the urban and enter the Fôret de Meudon, a wooded escape from the city. They should take the time to enjoy the peace and sound of their feet to get ready for the last 7.5 miles of the race.
Tourist Tip: For a breath of fresh air after navigating the bustling city, the Forêt de Meudon is made for a pair of gravel running shoes. There are plenty of running routes you can pre-plan using Gaia GPS.
Home Stretch and La Tour Eiffel
Approx Miles 19 – 25 / Kilometers 31 – 40
The runners start to head back to Paris, running again parallel to the River Seine, making a turn to its banks at kilometer 34. After a few miles along the river, they turn to run past La Tour Eiffel. Built to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution (see aforementioned visit to the Château de Versailles), it’s one of the most recognizable national monuments in the world.
Tourist Tip: No visit to Paris is complete without a selfie or group photo at La Tour Eiffel. For word nerds, despite its somewhat phallic presence, ‘La’ Tour Eiffel is actually a feminine word, and not to be confused with masculine ‘Le’ Tour (de France). Visit our partner publication Velo News for all you need to know on that subject.
Finish Line at the Esplanade Des Invalides
Mile 26.2 / Kilometer 42
After the whirlwind tour of Paris, runners will come into the final few miles and the finish line awaits them at the wide and open esplanade housing a collection of buildings referred to as Les Invalides. The gold-domed enclave welcomes athletes to the finish line. Only one of them will take home gold on race day, but ending the marathon under the golden dome will help shine up the memories the athletes will take back home.
Tourist Tip: Les Invalides is the hub of all things military history in France. The golden dome itself is part of a chapel in the series of buildings, and houses the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte. A final pilgrimage to visit one of the icons of French history is a solid way to end the day.