Paris 2024 Olympic Games. “These sites are obviously not made to host sporting events”: Parisian monuments are starting to host stadiums

Paris 2024 Olympic Games. “These sites are obviously not made to host sporting events”: Parisian monuments are starting to host stadiums

La place la Concorde sera le théâtre d’épreuves olympiques. MAXPPP – Vincent Isore

Des athlètes bientôt en lice à l’ombre de la tour Eiffel ou de l’obélisque de la Concorde : au pied des monuments parisiens, les stades éphémères prennent forme à presque cent jours des Jeux Olympiques (26 juillet – 11 août), bousculant le quotidien des Parisiens.

Friday, on one of the lawns of the Esplanade des Invalides, the assembly of the structure which this summer will host the archery events began. A section of the side street is already closed to traffic. "It’is a very nice concept to place these installations in such beautiful places and integrate them into the city", salutes Madeleine Kruger, American student living in Paris for two years, enjoying the sun on one of the lawns.

"But the fact that these areas are also places where people live and move around […] it makes things very difficult" quot;, she confides. Nausicaa Ben Khaled, employee of La Calèche Dorée, a small food kiosk located near one of the exits of the Invalides metro station, had to move " a few meters because she was within the security perimeter.

"We don’not have too much information (on) what will be closed, for example road access and the metro", says- She. "It's true that these are constraints, it annoys everyone […] But we take it upon ourselves, it’s still something of ;rsquo;exceptional", reports a butcher on rue Saint-Dominique, located near Les Invalides.

"It’It’s a little noisy, crowded, and blocked, but it’s for a good cause"

At the foot of the Iron Lady, on the Champ-de-Mars, an ephemeral stadium – baptized Eiffel Tower stadium – is also being edited since the beginning of March. It will host beach volleyball and blind football matches. Particularly imposing, the structure makes some people frown. "The sites commission said that it absolutely did not disturb the perspective", quips Gérard Der Agobian, president of the Les Amis du Champ-de-Mars association, about what he compares to a "multi-story building".

Gina is annoyed to see her habits disrupted. "There are barriers everywhere and we can't access the lawns", deplores this retiree who walks her dog there. "It’s a little noisy, crowded and blocked, but it’s for a good cause", s’ enthusiasm for her part Simone, a German tourist.

At the other end of the esplanade, the ephemeral Grand Palais, built in early 2021 to replace the Grand Palais under construction, will house the judo and wrestling events. On the other side of the Seine, in the Trocadéro gardens, the medal-winning athletes will parade in the Champions Park, also under construction.

"We had stadiums everywhere that we could use"

And around the Place de la Concorde, the largest in Paris, stands have appeared on the eastern part, on the Tuileries garden side. To provide a setting for the four so-called urban sports (BMX freestyle, three-way basketball, breaking and skateboarding), the obelisk will soon be surrounded by as many small stadiums. The area will be completely closed to traffic from June 1.

Beyond the annoyances of everyday life, Christine Nedelec, president of the heritage defense association SOS Paris, fears "damage".

"These sites are obviously not made to host sporting events", worry- She. "We had stadiums everywhere that we could use. It's simply because we wanted to have the Eiffel Tower in the background in the photo", she regrets. Two other tourist hotspots are to host these temporary sites, seven in total: the Alexandre III bridge and the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.

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