The impressive Paris 2024 Olympic Village. GETTY IMAGES

The Paris 2024 Olympic Village was inaugurated on schedule last Thursday, much to the delight of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who praised the fact that the mini-city had been completed on time, on budget and in an environmentally friendly manner.

The impressive Paris 2024 Olympic Village was inaugurated last Thursday in the suburbs of Paris. It will be home to around 14,500 athletes and elite coaches during the Olympic Games (from 26 July to 11 August) and around 9,000 during the Paralympic Games (from 28 August to 8 September).

Seven years in the making, the Village was delivered on time to the delight of Organising Committee President Tony Estanguet, who hailed it as a triumph, and French President Emmanuel Macron, who praised its completion on time and on budget.

"It's a great day, we're all taking part in the adventure of the century", celebrated Macron. He promised during a visit to the site that he would swim in the Seine, one of the symbols of the Olympic event, but did not specify when.

It took seven years to build, and "despite the covid, two years of inflation and the war in Ukraine, it was completed on time, on budget and with exemplary social and environmental responsibility," the French President stressed. 

The French Presidency ensured that the additional costs were less than 3% excluding inflation. The total cost was around €2 billion, marking a shift in focus for Olympic-related construction.

In the past, Olympic Games have often been associated with economic waste, rushed construction, often without a future vision or legacy, with extravagant infrastructure projects and even overpricing.

These actions have tarnished the reputation of the Olympic Games in the past, and Paris 2024 aims to be the polar opposite. A "sober" and environmentally responsible model. 

"We have made the Olympic Village not only a showcase but also a manifesto for the major urban issues of the 21st century," explains Nicolas Ferrand, head of Solideo, the company building the village on a 52-hectare site north of Paris.

View from a balcony in the Paris 2024 Olympic Village. GETTY IMAGES
View from a balcony in the Paris 2024 Olympic Village. GETTY IMAGES

The site, which will become a post-Olympic office and residential district for the towns of Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen and L'Île-Sain-Denis, will also be equipped with solar panels, water reuse systems and air purification systems, in line with the IOC's green credentials. 

The Olympic Village comprises some 82 buildings, 3,000 apartments and 7,200 rooms, with the City of Cinema at its heart, which will house the main restaurant with a capacity of 3,500 covers and 40,000 meals a day. Although it was inaugurated last Thursday, there is still a lot of work to be done to welcome the 206 Olympic delegations.

The organisers claim that the Village will produce about half the carbon emissions of a conventional building, thanks to the use of low-carbon concrete and timber structures and a renewable geothermal heating system.

Laurent Michaud, head of the Olympic Village for the Organising Committee, estimates that more than 345,000 items will be needed: duvets, bedside tables, beds (14,250), fans (8,200), sofas (5,535). Equipment and services will be provided by sponsors. "There will be two athletes per 12 m2 room and a bathroom for four people. Everyone will be on an equal footing," he explained.

 "It's a village that we've worked on with athletes for athletes (...) so that each athlete can find everything he or she needs," summarised Laurent Michaud.

This ephemeral city will have laundry and concierge services, a grocery store, a police station, a hairdresser, a gym, a bar (non-alcoholic), a multi-faith centre and even a post office, as well as electric shuttles and bicycles to get around this "mini-city".

A bedroom in an athlete's apartment in the Paris 2024 Olympic Village. GETTY IMAGES
A bedroom in an athlete's apartment in the Paris 2024 Olympic Village. GETTY IMAGES

During the Games, athletes will be able to wash their clothes in temporary laundries with around 600 washing machines and dryers. 12 concierges scattered around the village will be responsible for cleaning the apartments in more than 70 residences. The apartments will not have kitchens, but athletes will have access to two restaurants and food trucks scattered throughout the village.

"Our aim is to make the athletes feel at home," said Laurent Pasteur, from the catering company Sodexo, of the "world's largest restaurant" in the City of Cinema, which will be open 24 hours a day. A 3,000 m2 polyclinic will be open 24 hours a day for treatments, examinations and MRI scans to look after the health of the athletes.

Athletes will be able to enjoy four themed areas: French specialities, Asian, International and Afro-Caribbean and, just like at home, they will have to collect reusable crockery after each meal. 

When the Paralympic Games end on 8 September, the Village will become a real part of the city for the people of Seine-Saint-Denis. Housing will be converted to accommodate residents and businesses in this new district north of Paris.