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9 Destinations in France to Enjoy the Olympics Outside of Paris

9 Destinations in France to Enjoy the Olympics Outside of Paris

For sports fans, Paris will be the center of the universe this summer — and with 15 million Olympic and Paralympic visitors expected, it will feel like it, with crowds and high prices. But Paris isn’t the only Olympic site in France: Nine destinations outside the metro region are also hosting events, giving travelers a way to catch some action without getting caught up in the crush.

In places like Bordeaux, Marseille and even Tahiti, you can watch top athletes compete in soccer, basketball, sailing and surfing. (Tickets have been added in batches, so if the ones you want aren’t available, keep checking the ticketing site, If all else fails, the official resale platform opens on May 15.)

And when you’re not watching sports, you can take advantage of museums, parks, design centers, and fresh food and wine options. In Nantes, you can even ride a mechanical elephant.

Here are some ideas for planning your own alternative Olympic trip.

Basketball: July 27 to Aug. 4; tickets from 50 euros ($54).

Handball: Aug. 6 to 11, tickets from €45.

Start with a stroll around Vieux-Lille and a coffee in the Grande Place, taking in the colorful facades of this city near the Belgian border. Head over to the St.-Sauveur area to see the Art Deco belfry and exhibitions at Gare St.-Sauveur, a former train station. On Sundays, at the rambling Wazemmes market, about 400 vendors offer produce, fish, plants, fabrics, textiles and leather goods. Head out to Parc du Héron, east of the city, to see the LaM museum (€7), with works by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Joan Miró. Lille is better known for beer than for wine, and the Brasserie Gobrecht offers brewery tours every Saturday (reservations recommended).

Where to stay: Hotel de la Paix (€354 per night); Hotel Carlton (€406).

Soccer: July 24 to Aug. 2; tickets from €24.

Capital of a region best known for its wine, this small southwestern city sells local wine-walk maps at its tourist office. Stop by the Marché des Capucins, a local indoor market that also houses Bistro Poulette, a slightly chaotic and very delicious spot serving moules-frites, or mussels with fries. In the afternoon, check out the Bassins des Lumières (€15), the largest digital art center in the world, and the Cité du Vin (€21), which offers wine-tasting experiences. To wind down in a quiet wine bar, try Yarra, or for a cocktail, Symbiose. If you have time for side trips, spend a day in…

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