Essential Items Australian Athletes Are Packing for the 2024 Paris Olympics

The luxury luggage brand July makes its Olympic debut, providing the team with a case inspired by the Australian uniforms worn at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Article by Hollie Wornes

The July suitcasesThe campaign was shot on film against the backdrop of Melbourne University, a training ground for the ‘56 Games. Photograph courtesy of July / Robb Tenant.

With just 21 days until the Olympics kick off in Paris, the excitement is palpable. Each year, Australia’s athletes inspire a profound sense of pride, patriotism, and sense of community across the nation. Even before the opening ceremony, Cate Campbell missing her final shot at the 2024 swimming squad in the trials stirred tears both in the pool and for those watching behind the screen.

While the main focus is on the athletes’ performances during the 19 days of competition, there’s also considerable buzz about what they will be wearing. For the 10th time, the 110-year-old lifestyle and sportswear brand Sportscraft, is the official uniform supplier for the 2024 Australian Olympic team. The athletes will don teal linen blazers featuring the Australian Olympians’ oath sewn into the lining, and pocket squares and scarves adorned with artworks by Indigenous boxer-turned-artist Paul Fleming and Torres Strait Islander artist David Bosun. The look is completed with beige chino shorts, white cotton T-shirts, and Sportscraft’s signature pleated skirts with a green and gold ombre design, inspired by a Parisian sunset.

Adding to the stylish ensemble, luxury suitcase label July will debut custom carry-on suitcases. The design pays homage to the uniforms worn at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics with a textured cream finish, gold hardware, and soft leather handles. (The campaign shoot took place at Melbourne University, a training ground for the ‘56 Games).

The case shot on an athletics track.
Photograph courtesy of July / Robb Tenant.
Photograph courtesy of July / Robb Tenant.

“Inspired by our country’s rich sporting heritage, the custom Olympics team case embodies a fusion of tradition and contemporary style. We’re so excited to support our Aussie athletes and ensure they have the best luggage on their Olympic journey,” says the founder of July, Athan Didaskalou.

While the athletes are busy packing, T Australia stole a few minutes of their time to discuss what essentials they’ll be taking to Paris, gaining insights into their travel habits.

Mackenzie Arnold,
Matildas goalkeeper

What essential items are you packing for the Paris Olympics 2024?

MA: Phone, headphones, hair straightener, gloves and boots – and maybe some coffee pods for emergencies. 

Over packer or under packer?

MA: I’m an over packer, 100%. My suitcase is always bursting. 

What’s your favourite plane food?

MA: I generally eat before I get on the plane so I can go to sleep as soon as we take off.

Soccer goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.
Soccer goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold. Photograph by Simon Eeles/ courtesy of July.

Nagmeldin “Peter” Bol,
Middle-distance runner

What essential items are you packing for the Paris Olympics 2024?

PB: My spikes and some of my favourite Aussie snacks that I won’t be able to get in France

What is your flying ritual?

PB: Headphones are a must to listen to podcasts – and a book.

What is your favourite thing about your July suitcase?

PB:They just don’t break. You can try as hard as you want but they won’t break.

Peter" Bol
Nagmeldin "Peter" Bol is an Australian middle-distance runner. Photograph by Simon Eeles/ courtesy of July.

Jeff Dunne,
Break dancer

What essential items are you packing for the Paris Olympics 2024?

JD: My phone, phone charger, and headphones.

What is your favourite plane food?

JD: An easy scrambled eggs with hash brown and bacon.

Over packer or under packer?

JD: I’m an over packer, mainly because of my mum.

Jeffrey 'Jeff' Dan Dunne.
Jeffrey 'Jeff' Dan Dunne. Photograph by Simon Eeles/ courtesy of July.

Zoe Poulis,
Artistic swimmer

What essential items are you packing for the Paris Olympics 2024?

ZP: Lip balm!

Do you have a flying ritual?

ZP: My flying ritual is always stretching before getting on the plane.

Window or aisle seat?

ZP: Short flight, window seat. Long flight, aisle.

Zoe Poulis
Zoe Poulis is a member of the artistic swimming team. Photograph by Simon Eeles/ courtesy of July.

Outside Paris, a Charming Town, Château and Hotel Steeped In History

Pavillon Henri IV, the birthplace of Henri IV of France, is located in Saint Germain en Laye, less than an hour from the centre of Paris.

Article by Hannah Tattersall

Pavillon Henri IV in Saint Germain en Laye, is less than an hour from the centre of Paris. Photography courtesy Pavillon Henri IV.

Each morning, when the park gates are unlocked for the day, Charles-Eric Hoffmann, his partner Julien and their two dogs, Theos and Magic, walk out the door of the grand hotel Pavillon Henri IV, turn right and begin their brisk hour-long walk through the Forêt domaniale de Saint Germain (Saint Germain en Laye forest). 

The 35 square kilometres of verdant landscape, dotted with 100-year-old birch and pine trees, is said to have been popular in the 17th century with kings Henri IV and Louis XIII, who were known to go fox hunting there. Today, it sits adjacent to Pavillon Henri IV, the hotel run by Hoffmann since 2002, and the birthing place of King Henri IV himself. 

As the morning sun rises in painterly pinks and oranges over the Seine, joggers, walkers and their furry friends set a sprightly pace, making the route from the historic birthplace of Henri IV, through the forest and back again. 

After all, as the saying goes, “Ils viennent à Saint-Germain pour respirer le bel air.” They come to Saint Germain to breathe the beautiful air. 

A large park and verdant forest lie adjacent to the hotel. Photograph by Hannah Tattersall.
The forest is popular with walkers, joggers and dogs who set a quick pace in the mornings. Photograph by Hannah Tattersall.

As Paris gears up for the 2024 Olympics in July and August, estimated to be costing 10 billion euros ($16 billion) and billed as one of the most modern and egalitarian games in history, many locals talk of leaving Paris for its duration, fearful of the massive increase in population and the gridlock that may ensue on the roads and in the metro stations, in what is already a bustling city. 

It’s a sentiment Hoffmann and his newly appointed chief financial officer, Paul Morgon, are counting on, as they plan for last minute hotel bookings in Saint Germain en Laye. In May, hotel bookings in the town were sitting at 55% capacity, while mid-range hotels in Paris were sitting at 62% capacity. 

Only 28 minutes by train to the Arc de Triomphe and 40 minutes to Le Louvre, Saint Germain en Laye offers guests what hotels in Paris cannot: an escape from the congestion of the city, the hordes of tourists and the transport panic many locals are envisaging.

“We have many German, Swiss, English, European guests,” says Hoffmann. “They come here because we have this car park and we have the RER [express train] and they can go to Paris or with a limousine also. They do the shopping and they come back at night.”

For travellers venturing to Paris for the Olympic Games, the charming town of Saint Germain en Laye also offers something different to the modern games: a step back in time. A place of royal residence since Louis VI the Fat in the 12th century, the town was both a place of respite and a place of power for the kings of France. 

According to the local tourism body, many royal edicts or treaties were signed in Saint Germain en Laye. Today the extraordinary Château de Saint Germain en Laye (Saint Germain Castle) contains a museum of archaeology, originally set up by Napoleon III. Visitors can view archives from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages while marvelling at the castle’s original brickwork and iconic facade. 

The Château de Saint Germain e Laye today houses the musée d'Archéologie nationale (National Museum of Archaeology). Photograph by Hannah Tattersall.
The domed ceiling in the room where Henri IV was born.

In nearby Chatou, on the northwest side of the river Seine, one can visit – and sit upon – the balcony where the Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted “Le Déjeuner des canotiers” (Luncheon of the Boating Party) in 1881 – at Restaurant Maison Fournaise.

Along with fellow impressionists Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Mary Cassatt, Renoir immortalised the landscapes of the Île-de-France region, especially those of Saint Germain Boucles de Seine. With their tubes of colours in hand, these artists left their studios to board a train at Saint-Lazare station and disembarked at Le Pecq, then Chatou and Croissy-sur-Seine and Louveciennes to paint en plein air (outside). 

Restaurant Hameau Fournaise in Chatou, where Renoir painted Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photograph courtesy of Saint Germain Boucles de Seine Tourisme.
Pavillon Henri IV retains a part of the original castle where Henri IV was born. Photography by Hannah Tattersall.

But back to Saint Germain en Laye. In 1638, King Louis XIV was born in the oratory, then a royal residence, and it remained his favourite residence until 1682 when Louis IV abandoned Saint Germain for nearby Versailles.

The Pavillon Henri IV hotel is equally steeped in ancient and modern history, upon which the hotel prides itself. Alexandre Dumas wrote “The Three Musketeers” here in 1844; Jacques Offenbach composed “The Tales of Hoffmann” while staying at the hotel in 1881; and that rich, velvety eggy French sauce we know as Bérnaise was invented by chef Jean-Louis-François Collinet in its kitchen in 1836. 

But the hotel, while retaining its old-world charm and rustic accommodations, is evolving. The restaurant has a panoramic restaurant and terrace serving classic French cuisine and an unmatched view of the Seine, Paris, and the outline of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Hoffmann has grand plans to elevate the hotel to a 5-star residence in the next few years – post Olympic Games. 

“We will renovate the bedrooms and I would like to replace the carpet by the wooden floor,” Hoffmann tells T Australia as we venture through the forest. Morgon has worked in five-star hotels and palaces around the world and the two are busy hiring new staff and making plans to refresh the hotel.

The birthplace of King Henry IV of France and the remains of his castle have been turned into a hotel just outside Paris. Photography courtesy of Pavillon Henri IV.
Charles-Eric Hoffman in front of the Saint Germain castle. Photography courtesy of Glint magazine.

“We have a huge project of renovating the hotel and multiplying by three the number of rooms,” Morgon says. “Now we are at 42 and we want to reach 140 by constructing two additional buildings in the park. We need to build two additional buildings and create a very cosy, private park in the hotel.

“There is also a project of buying the adjacent property, which is for sale, and transforming it into a spa and wellness zone. And there will be a swimming pool, a spa, a massage area and also a relaxation and sport area with tennis courts and all kinds of amenities.”

While these additions will indeed turn the Pavillon Henri IV into an even grander place to holiday, the hotel as it currently stands is delightful. The rooms are large, the food is good, the grounds are spectacular. But it’s the people that make an experience memorable, and the staff and locals who occupy Saint Germain en Laye and the nearby villages are as hospitable and likeable as one could ever hope for when travelling in another country.

While continuing to look back at a town awash with history, beauty and character, it’s refreshing to know the future is bright, but that Saint Germain en Laye will remain a magical slice of history, so close to Paris. The sun sets on another day in France and the gates to the Forêt domaniale de Saint Germain are shut once again. 

Rooms from 150€ a night, depending on the season and availability. 

The Designer Who Redefined The Olympic Torch

Mathieu Lehanneur’s design proposal for the Olympic torch and cauldron beat more than 10 other designers. He explains his vision and why Australia is an important market for him.

Article by Hannah Tattersall

Photograph courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.

French designer Mathieu Lehanneur is no stranger to recognition. With collections in the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, Lehanneur also recently partnered with AirBnb to transform the iconic clock room in the Musée d’Orsay into private accommodation. 

But never has the work of Lehanneur been as visible to the public as it will be on 26th July, when Lehanneur’s designs for the Olympic torch, the torch relay cauldron and the Olympic cauldron will be broadcast around the world during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. 

Lehanneur was one of at least 10 designers asked to submit design proposals for the three iconic structures back in 2022. While there were some constraints in terms of height, weight, and ensuring the flame would never burn out, in terms of creative inspiration, finishes, colour and shape, the brief was fairly open, Lehanneur tells T Australia from his factory in Ivry-sur Seine on the outskirts of Paris. 

French designer Mathieu Lehanneur's submission for the Olympic Torch beat at least 10 other designers. Photograph courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.
Mathieu Lehanneur has also designed the torch relay cauldron and the Olympic Games cauldron for Paris 2024. Photograph courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.

Lehanneur designed the torch in a symmetrical shape – wider in the middle and narrower on top – to signify the equal ambition of Olympians and Paralympians and of men and women (for the first time, the Olympic Games will include the same number of female competitors as male).

“The fully symmetrical shape is to embody this idea of equality,” he explains. “I also wanted to make the torch speak about Paris and I was inspired by the Seine that goes across the capital and that is going to be the stage for the opening ceremony. 

“I play on this idea of liquid. This is a reason why on the bottom part of the torch you can see these kind of reflective ripples on the metal – in order to express the surface of La Seine.”

Mathieu Lehanneur's Factory in Ivry-sur Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Photography courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.

Lehanneur’s work is already popular in Australia and he hopes to open a showroom or gallery here soon. The Ritz Carlton in Melbourne has just commissioned a large marble piece for its lobby which will look like a giant pond or lake “but with a green marble where you can see the waves and the reflection of the lights on those waves,” he says, adding “since the very beginning we received a very strong interest and welcoming in Australia… for a weird reason, I sell more pieces in Australia than in France.” 

Popular among antipodeans is Lehanneur’s Inverted Gravity collection – furniture featuring big blown glass vessels supporting marble tabletops or sideboards. Pieces within Ocean Memories, a collection based on waves and currents, are also sought after. “Probably because Australia is of course very connected with the ocean and seas and waves,” says Lehanneur. 

“Since Australian people love what we are doing, it really makes sense for us to make a step towards you.”

Popular among antipodeans is Lehanneur’s Ocean Memories collection, a collection based on waves and currents. Photography courtesy of Mathieu Lahanneur.
The designer is well known for his Inverted Gravity furniture collection, many of which are popular among Australian collectors. Photography courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.

Until then, all eyes are on the Olympic torch and the ever-burning flame, which is making its way through France, passing prestigious vineyards including Saint-Emilion, Chablis and Layon, to sports stadiums such as Marseille Stadium and Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium in Saint-Etienne, to famous landmarks like the Lascaux caves, the mediaeval city of Carcassonne and the Palace of Versailles, until it arrives in Paris to ignite the Olympic cauldron in front of billions of people. 

“I’m not allowed to reveal anything right now, but you will see very soon. It’s another chapter,” says Lehanneur. “I designed them like a whole story so it’s just like a family; it’s just like the different chapters of the same history.

To have been involved in this project is a dream, he says. “The history of the Olympic Games, the energy of the athletes, the fraternity of human beings. And in that world, it’s the moment that we can feel the fraternity. It’s quite rare. So when an object is able to combine all of this, it’s really crazy.”

Musée d’Orsay’s clock room, which has been transformed into a luxurious bedroom by Mathieu Lehanneur. Photograph courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur.