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Parisians on TikTok Plead: ‘Don’t Come’ to Paris for the Olympics

“This is a video for anyone that’s coming to Paris Olympics 2024,” a woman says in a clip posted to TikTok. She pauses briefly, and then continues: “Don’t come. Cancel everything.”

The video, which was uploaded in November, now has more than 700,000 views.

The creator, Miranda Starcevic, is a 31-year-old French American who lives in Paris. She usually records herself speaking French, but thought a message about the Olympics would reach more people if it were in English.

And Ms. Starcevic wanted her viewers to know that from her perspective, of French citizens who “are kind of middle class,” as she put it: “Nobody wants the Olympic Games. It’s just a hot mess.”

As a visual-first international platform with many young users, TikTok is full of Olympics content. But in addition to the feel-good windows into athletes’ lives and promotional videos from organizers and sponsors, there are also unfiltered clips from residents of Paris warning potential visitors that the city may not deliver its best during the Games.

A 24-year-old Parisian student whose display name is Leo Nora has posted several short clips about the Paris Games, stating they will be “dangerous” and “hell on Earth.”

In one of her videos, she says into the camera, “If you are planning on coming to Paris for the Olympic Games, why? Do not come. Do not come!” The clip has been viewed more than a million times.

“I’ve lived in Paris my whole life,” Leo Nora said in an interview. “I’ve been to really big events in Paris. What prompted me to talk about it is I know how it can go right — and how it can go wrong.”

She and Ms. Starcevic had similar reasons for encouraging people to avoid the Games. Both said they were unhappy that the city asked students to give up their student housing so the accommodations could be used for workers during the Games. And both expressed frustration and fears around transportation.

Organizers and government officials are concerned about strikes by transportation workers during the Games, as well as more serious issues like terrorism. Some creators have posted about Paris’s pervasive tourist scams, pickpockets and recent hotel price hikes. People on TikTok also warned htat there could be severe overcrowding on trains.

“It’s not rare to have people fainting” in the Metro,” Leo Nora said. When someone faints, “the line stops, which causes delays,” she said.

Tessa Bicard, an executive at a cosmetics company whose TikTok handle is Madame Tartempion, posted a video titled “The Olympics are going to be a nightmare for Paris.” It has drawn more than 750,000 views and hundreds of comments.

Ms. Bicard, who is originally from Northern California and has lived in Paris for over 12 years, said in an interview that she was actually a big fan of the Olympics.

“I have watched them every year since I was a kid,” she said. “I really like the swimming — and women’s gymnastics, of course.” But, she said, “This is the least excited I’ve ever been about the Olympics.”

Mainly, she said, that is because she doesn’t have tickets. “They are too expensive or impossible to get,” she said. She also stressed that all the different construction projects for the Games have already made daily life difficult. The expected influx of millions of Olympic visitors, she fears, will just make things worse. “My bus route has been complete chaos.”

As an American living in Paris, Ms. Bicard said that she often used her TikTok account to answer questions about the city, in addition to fun tips like “how to spot an American in Paris.”

Americans ask: “Where’s the best place to say? What’s the best neighborhood? Do you have a favorite restaurant? All that kind of stuff,” she said. She replies to as many people as she can. “There’s a certain aspect of ‘I feel like I can trust you because you speak with an American accent,’” she said.

When it comes to the Games, Ms. Bicard’s view is a bit softer than that of more vocal Olympic naysayers like Leo Nora and Ms. Starcevic.

“If you’re going to be here for the Olympics, hopefully this is not your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Paris,” she said, adding that she expects it to be logistically challenging. “I think it’s going to be really tricky and not at all pleasant to try to do some of those ‘Paris’ things,” she said.

And like Ms. Starcevic and Leo Nora — and most Paris residents — Ms. Bicard said that she was expecting the Metro to be “a total mess” when the Games start. Already, she said, there are posters and billboards around the city, encouraging residents to anticipate the Games. Many see it as “coded language” hinting at what many people are already thinking: “Leave the city if you can — or if you can afford it.”

Leo Nora, who usually posts about feminist and racial issues on TikTok, does not plan to be in Paris during the Games; her boyfriend lives outside the city, and she’ll stay with him. “I get anxious in crowds,” she said. “I don’t want to be the person who faints and ruins it for everyone.”

Ms. Starcevic, who owns a sustainable online fashion brand, booked tickets months ago to spend a few days with a friend in Biarritz and a few days in the south of France, in order to be out of the city during the Games. “I’m lucky enough to be able to go,” she said, “But most people don’t have my privilege.”

Ms. Bicard, though, says she will stay. She plans to bike or walk to work instead of taking the Métro. And she’s expecting one of two things to happen, she said. “Either it’s going to be an absolute chaotic mess,” she said, or surprisingly calm.

Either way, she shrugged: “Paris is my home. I love it.” And she raises not one eyebrow at the ire that other people in the city seem to have.

“I’m married to a Parisian,” she said, “so I can also say, with a relative amount of authority, that Parisians are not always the easiest people to deal with.”




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