France racing to build giant army camp for Paris Olympics security

To house the thousands of soldiers tasked with keeping the Paris Olympics safe, France is building the largest army camp its mainland has seen since World War II, at breakneck pace.

Row upon row of temporary barracks have risen up where a fairground in eastern Paris once stood, green army bunk beds and massive mess halls for 4,500 troops replacing merry-go-rounds and candyfloss.

Construction of the camp is being held to a record deadline of 65 days, with the first soldiers due to arrive July 3.

Thirteen days later, they will be guarding the showpiece opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympics along a six-kilometre stretch of the River Seine – the focus of persistent security worries.

"We're on schedule," insisted Denis Lesaffre from the Economat des Armees, a logistics partner of the armed forces which is managing the work.

In all, 18,000 military personnel will be on hand to provide security for the Games, which will last from July 26 to August 11.

They will provide support for 45,000 members of the internal security forces, police and gendarmerie, along with a number of private security guards ranging between 18,000 and 22,000 a day.

Though it may compare in scale to the camps that were built when Nazi boots still stood on French soil, its amenities would be rather alien to the soldiers of the time.

"In 1945, we were building camps of tents," Commissar General Philippe Pourque told AFP.

"In 2024, it's a permanent structure with facilities that were unimaginable 50 years ago: WiFi, air conditioning," Pourque said.

The last major camp set up by the French armed forces in recent years was in Gao, Mali.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
Charities slam 'social cleansing' ahead of 2024 Paris Olympic Games
Paris wards off tiger mosquito scourge ahead of Olympics
Eiffel Tower given the Olympic treatment as ring display unveiled