On Location: Paris

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Paris City Hall

It’s an exciting time to visit Paris, as preparations are underway for the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games July 26 to August 11.

A recent visit hosted by Paris je t’aime Convention Bureau, Paris Region Tourism Board and Atout France showcased many many sports-themed venues that can be used for activations, along with a few surprises.

Stade de France: Dinner with a view

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 Trocadéro. A full schedule can be found here.

Cocktails at Maison du Handball

The fam 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.

5-star view from the terrace at Bonnie

It’s virtually impossible to leave Paris without tales of 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 Duboué 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 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.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.