— Published 27 March 2023

The Yonne, a department fully focused on Paris 2024

On a map of France, the department of Yonne is an obvious choice for teams or delegations looking for a base camp before the Paris 2024 Games. Less than an hour by train from the capital, just 200 km of highway. Three times nothing.

But the Yonne’s assets are not limited to its geographical location. The department has built a solid and diversified offer of CPJs (Centres de préparation aux Jeux). It has also created a label to bring together its cities and their vital forces around the Olympic and Paralympic project.

Philippe Lala, Yonne 24 Territorial Project Director, explains.

FrancsJeux: What is, in detail, your offer of CPJ?

Philippe Lala: We have six CPJs, in six different sports and in four different towns in the department. In Auxerre, the prefecture of the Yonne, the AJA soccer stadium (photo above), with its main field, its annexes, its weight training and recovery center, and the Rugby Club Auxerrois stadium, with four fields, a weight training area and a balneotherapy center. In Sens, the second largest city in the department, the shooting sports center and the volleyball hall. In Brienon-sur-Armançon, the archery range, where two medal winners were trained at the Games, Olympic for Bérangère Schuh and Paralympic for Fabrice Meunier. Finally, our offer is completed by the Saint-Florentin athletics stadium, whose club is presided by Sébastien Maillard, semi-finalist in the 400 m hurdles at the 2003 World Championships.

What are the assets of these facilities and the Yonne department?

Their familiarity with high-level sport. The facilities selected by the Paris 2024 OCOG in its CPJ catalog are regularly used by elite athletes and clubs. They have all been modernized over the past few years to keep them up to date with the standards of major competitions. The Brienon-sur-Armençon archery range will host the Lebanese national team next month. The French archery team often comes to train in Sens. In Auxerre, the AJA is playing in Ligue 1. Its stadium allows access to all the facilities – field, weight room, recovery – within a few minutes walk. Another advantage is that the clubs, the cities and the entire department are committed to hosting foreign delegations. Finally, the Yonne benefits from a privileged geographical location, only 50 minutes by train from Paris.

How do you plan to support the reception of foreign delegations before the Paris 2024 Games?

Our project is based on people. We want to facilitate the presence of teams or delegations in the Yonne, by providing them with the human and technical resources they may need. For example, an agreement will be concluded with the nearest hospital for optimal care. Our priority will obviously be to put them in the best possible position for their preparation and recovery. But we would like to be able to create links between these athletes and the population, in particular the young people of the schools and the members of the local clubs. We also hope to introduce them to our region, its culture and its gastronomy.

What impact/legacy could hosting foreign delegations have for the department, beyond the Games?

We see the Paris 2024 Games as a real departmental project, an opportunity for the Yonne to unite and open itself to the world. Next year, we will be the stage department for the torch relay. We have also created a label, Yonne 24 Terre d’exploits, to encourage initiatives and common projects around the themes of sport, health, tourism, economy and youth. Its ambition is to unite cities and economic players around the Paris 2024 Games. We have not waited for the Games to take action, but the event can play a major role, particularly in opening the Yonne to the rest of the world.

What types of delegations do you aim to receive?

We have not made any pre-determined choice or established a priority. We are open to the world, ready to welcome countries or teams attracted by our offer. But we really want this adventure to be human and shared by as many people as possible. For this reason, we are more interested in small or medium-sized delegations, with whom exchanges would be easier and more direct.