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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. But Paris isn't the only Olympic site in France: Nine destinations outside the metro region are also hosting events. In places like Bordeaux, Marseille and even Tahiti, you can watch top athletes compete in soccer, basketball, sailing and surfing. (The official ticket resale platform opens on May 15.) And when you're not watching sports, you can take advantage of museums, parks, and fresh food and wine options.

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


Basketball: July 27-Aug. 4; tickets from 50 euros ($54). Handball: Aug. 6-11, from 45 euros.

Start with a stroll around Vieux-Lille and a coffee in the Grande Place, taking in the colorful facades of this city. Head over to 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 to see the LaM museum (7 euros), with works by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Joan Miró.

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


Soccer: July 24-Aug. 2; from 24 euros.

Capital of a wine region, this small city sells local wine-walk maps at its tourist office. Stop by the Marché des Capucins, an indoor market that also houses Bistro Poulette, a slightly chaotic and very delicious spot serving mussels with fries. Check out the Bassins des Lumières (15 euros), the largest digital art center in the world, and the Cité du Vin (21 euros), which offers wine-tasting experiences. Spend a day in nearby St.-Emilion, where you can sample great wines. Or check out the nearly 340-foot-high Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, near the beach town of Arcachon.

Where to stay: Les Chambres de Marie (170 euros); La Maison Galiène (259 euros).


Soccer: July 24-Aug. 8; from 24 euros.

Start at Talensac Market for picnic supplies, especially radishes, local cheeses and strawberries. Take your picnic lunch to the courtyard of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, a medieval castle and museum (courtyard is free; museum is 9 euros). On the Île de Nantes, a former shipyard has been transformed into a wild mechanical theme park. The Machines de l'Île mixes Jules Verne's stories with Leonardo da Vinci's designs in the form of a ridable mechanical elephant and sea creatures (9.50 euros for the elephant ride or gallery visit).

Where to stay: Hotel Voltaire Opéra (103 euros); Hotel de la Cité (120 euros).


Shooting: July 27-Aug. 5; from 24 euros.

The small city is named for Château Raoul, the 10th-century castle that's now part of a private residence. The best view of the château is from the Gütersloh Bridge. Follow the "coulée verte" — or green corridor — along the banks of the Indre River, stopping by Parc de Belle-Isle, which has a lake for swimming, with kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to rent. The 13th-century Franciscan Cordeliers Convent (free) today offers contemporary art exhibits and miles of gardens. The Bertrand Museum (free), a former 18th-century townhouse, showcases diverse collections in each of its 26 rooms.

Where to stay: Au Lys Blanc (138 euros); Les Rives du Château (210 euros for a two-bedroom apartment).

Lyon and St.-Étienne

Soccer: Lyon, July 24-Aug. 9; from 24 euros. St.-Étienne, July 24-31; from 24 euros.

It will be easy to catch soccer matches in either Lyon or St.-Étienne, an hour apart by train or car. In Lyon, visit the majestic Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica, then savor an ice cream at La Fabrique Givrée. Explore the city's network of covered passageways, called traboules — originally for workers to transport textiles and later used by the French Resistance. Then climb up to the Pentes de la Croix-Rousse neighborhood, with its tiny streets, shops and views.

St.-Étienne is transforming its historical industrial identity into one of design and innovation. At the heart is the Cité du Design (4.50 euros), the former site of a weapons factory, now serves as a center for art and research, hosting art and design exhibitions.

Where to stay in Lyon: Fourvière Hotel (189 euros); Hôtel du Théâtre (323 euros). In St.-Étienne: Le Parc 42 (113 euros); Le Golf Sauna (269 euros).


Sailing (including windsurfing, kitesurfing and more): July 28-Aug. 8; from 24 euros. Soccer: July 24-Aug. 6; from 24 euros.

This Mediterranean port city mixes urban grit and natural beauty. Start by visiting Le Panier, the oldest part of the city. Try navettes, a traditional orange flower biscuit, and sample some sardines or panisses, traditional chickpea fries, on a sunny terrace. Detour through the touristy but pleasant Old Port on the way to Mucem (11 euros), the first major museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilization and cultures. At sunset, climb up to Cours Julien, a hip neighborhood with beautiful views, for your apéro. Don't miss the Cité Radieuse, a UNESCO-listed apartment complex that shows off architect Le Corbusier's Modernist mastery (you can stay at the hotel in it).

Where to stay: Hotel Le Corbusier (229 euros); Maison Juste (300 euros).


Soccer: July 24-31; from 24 euros.

Summer is peak season in Nice, where the mountains meet the Mediterranean. Run, bike or inline skate along the 4-mile Promenade des Anglais. Then climb up to the Colline du Château, a rocky hill with views of Nice and even the Alps. Follow the trails from Coco Beach to the Cap de Nice along the coves. Then head to Cours Saleya, a pedestrian section of the Old Town, with flower stands, antiques and local food like the socca, a chickpea pancake. Or just enjoy one of Nice's pebbled beaches in a lounge chair.

Where to stay: Hôtel Rossetti (186 euros); Yelo Mozart (238 euros).

Teahupo'o, Tahiti

Surfing: July 27-31 (could shift through Aug. 4, depending on conditions); fan zones free.

The surfing competition takes place in Tahiti, part of French Polynesia. Since the wave is offshore, there will be two ticket-free fan zones — Taharu'u Beach and Paofai Gardens — to watch the events on large screens. Tahiti offers white sands and turquoise lagoons in addition to near-perfect waves. For snorkeling, try the lagoon near Maui Beach. For black volcanic sands, head to Taharu'u Beach. Papeete, the capital, offers a variety of local delicacies like poisson cru: raw fish with lime juice and coconut milk, served with rice.

Where to stay: Kia Ora Lodge (265 euros); Punatea Village (73 euros).