Category Archives: Sports and Fitness

Running in Paris

In the past, breaking a sweat on the sidewalk or having to sidestep merde may have deterred people from running in Paris, but the Parisian running scene is as vibrant as in any major city. For those just getting into running or seasoned runners itching for a race, here’s our guide to running in Paris.

Where and When to Run
Early morning and late evening are when you’ll see the most runners, but runners are out and about all times of day. During the lunch hour you’ll see men and women of all ages doing laps around the Champ de Mars. But if you prefer to have peace, quiet, and empty sidewalks, then your best bet is to be on your way before 7AM. Any later and you’ll be sharing the streets with commuters heading to work and probably get a side eye from one or two. Despite Paris providing a relaxing, scenic atmosphere for a morning jog, it seems after work hours draw a larger crowd. Parisians don’t appear to be an early to bed, early to rise kind of crew so you’ll see them squeezing in a run pre-dinner. No matter what time of day you run, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings. Most neighborhoods in Paris are safe, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be a target. For French and non-French speakers alike it’s recommended your carry identification and a few bills (enough for an emergency taxi ride or metro ticket) with you. There are a few companies, such as Road ID, ICE ID, and MedIDs, where you can customize an ID bracelet. These are especially important if you have any sort of medical conditions or want medical personnel to know which languages you speak.

Once you’ve worked out a time to throw on your sneaks, planning a running route in Paris has never been easier. Websites such as Map My Run, Walk Jog Run, Run Keeper, and Run Map allow you to search routes completed by other runners, use an interactive tool to map your own route, as well as keep track of your running statistics. Run the Planet and Running Routes also provide routes with commentary on directions and scenery. If hopping on the Internet isn’t your running style, it’s just as easy to head to one of Paris’s many parks or forge your own path through the city’s urban landscape.

Running Buddies
If you’re looking for company, Paris offers a range of running groups. There are those for native English speakers, those who want to run with locals, and even groups dedicated to running and drinking. Here are just a few:

Paris Running Tours
Paris Running Club
Paris Hash House Harriers
Nike Running Club
Les Moustiques
Paris Athletic
Good People Run

Getting Ready to Run
You’d think running in the fashion capital of the world you would need runway worthy workout clothes, but that is not the case. The majority of runners on Parisian streets are wearing yesterday’s undershirt and a pair of old sweatpants. Only a handful look the part of high school track star and three-time marathoner which goes to show you that being a runner in Paris is all about your attitude. If you want to run, run. A few folks of the non-exercising variety may stare or squawk but your confidence is what will propel you to keep jogging past them without a second thought to their obnoxious looks or comments. But, if you want to run in style or need to retire an old pair of Adidas there are several stores in Paris where you can find what you need. Here is a list of stores that carry running gear:

Boutique Marathon
26 rue Léon Jost 75017 Tel: 01 42 27 48 18

Planet Jogging
80 rue du Fbg Saint Antoine 75012 Tel: 01 53 46 02 02
58/60 avenue de la Grande Armée 75017 Tel: 01 45 72 50 00

Endurance Shop
14 rue de l’Ouest 75014 Tel: 01 43 27 15 65

Au Vieux Campeur
48 rue Ecoles 75005 Tel: 01 53 10 48 48

Le Pape
39 rue Artois 75008 Tel: 01 53 75 00 03

23 boulevard de la Madeleine 75001 Tel: 01 55 35 97 55
26 avenue de Wagram 75008 Tel: 01 45 72 66 88
113 avenue de France 75013 Tel: 01 44 06 82 00
416 rue Louis Armand 75015 Tel: 01 45 58 60 45
2 place de la Défense 92053 Tel: 01 49 03 75 20
67 bis/79 rue de la Republique 93100 Tel: 01 48 18 29 00

Go Sport Tel: 08 25 10 60 60
Nouveau Forum des Halles Place Carrée 75001
Forum des Halles Niveau 3- 1 rue Pierre Lescot 75001
10 place de la Republique 75011
135 avenue Daumensil 75012
30 avenue d’Italie 75013
21/23 avenue de la Porte de Chatillon 75014
Centre Commercial Gaité- 68 avenue du Maine 75014
12/16 avenue de la Porte de Saint Cloud 75016
Centre Commercial les 4 Temps Casier 136 92092

12 rue des Hospitalieres Saint-Gervais 75004 Tel: 01 53 01 23 27
24 rue Aubry le Boucher 75004 Tel: 01 42 78 15 00
67 avenue des Champs Elysées  75008 Tel: 01 42 25 93 80
104 rue de Provence 75009 Tel: 01 40 16 00 57
2 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine  75012 Tel: 01 43 44 25 95

Passion Running

Running a Race
Paris hosts a variety of races throughout the year. There are 5Ks, marathons, and everything in between. But before you can dash across any starting line, there are a few basic steps for signing up to race:

1. Visit the race website and review the registration requirements. If you are not a member of an athletic association or do not have a current medical certificate, visit your general practitioner to get up-to-date medical clearance to run. French law requires all competitors to have a medical certificate from a doctor proving they are fit to race. When you visit the doctor to get your certificate, he or she can write you the certificate or you can bring a form (usually downloadable from the race website) already filled out with the correct wording. Some race organizers are strict about the wording so be sure your doctor writes the correct thing!

2. Print out and complete a registration form OR complete the form online.

3. Pay the registration fee online OR write a check to mail in.

4. Mail in your completed registration form, a copy of your medical certificate, and registration fee OR submit your registration form with a electronic copy of your certificate attached.

5. All set! Within a few days you should receive confirmation of your registration. As the race date approaches you’ll get more information about how, when, and where to pick up your race number.

If you’re looking for a race, Paris Running Tours and Agenda du Sportif have calendars with race dates.

Helpful Vocabulary

to run courir
to go running faire du jogging
race la course
race route le parcours
to register s’inscrire
registration la inscription
medical certificate le certificat médical
training la préparation
start le départ
fuel points les points de ravitaillements
finish la arrivée
results les résultats
timing chip la puce électronique
sneakers les chassures
socks les chausettes
laces les lacets
lace lacer

Ice Skating in Paris

by A. Letkemann

If you’re new to Paris, you may not be aware that Parisians enjoy winter sports as much as the rest of the world does. The usually milder weather is no deterrent to ice skating enthusiasts, as evidenced the selected list of available rinks below. It’s good clean fun for the entire family, very affordable, and certain rinks offer breath-taking views.

Hôtel de Ville
49, rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris
Métro: Hôtel de Ville
December 17, 2010 — February 27, 2011

This is the larger of the three rinks (25m x 50m), with a smaller space for kids and beginners. There is also a large play area with activities for children (under 6) and a giant teepee! Open every day: weekdays from noon to10:00 pm, weekends and public holidays from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm. Last admission one hour before closing. Free if you have skates, 5€ to rent them (free for kids). A piece of ID necessary to rent skates. Please note: gloves must be worn.

Stade Sébastien Charléty
99, boulevard Kellermann
75013 Paris
RER : Cité Universitaire (line B) Tramway : Cité Universitaire (line T3)
December 20, 2010 to December 31, 2010

The stadium in the 13th arrondissement will be transformed into an area for winter leisure activities for children aged three 16. Activities include a 4 zip-lines, snow garden (300m²), games, walks in snow shoes, sledging, ice-skating on synthetic ice, trampolines, merry-go-rounds and miniature golf.

Eiffel Tower
Champs de Mars, Paris 75007
Métro: Trocadéro, Bir Hakeim RER C: Champs de Mars
December 15, 2010 to February 9, 2011

The first floor of the Eiffel Tower is transformed into a glittering ice skating arena as one of the highest rinks in France (57 meters)! The Paris ice rink opens to the public every day from 10:30 am to 22:30 pm. This year the Eiffel Tower’s 200 square meter ice skating rink will feature interactive sensors that will project images depending on the movement of the skaters. Access is free for visitors to the Eiffel Tower (regular admission fees apply) and skates are provided with identification. (Customers cannot bring their own skates.)

place Raoul Dautry, 75015 Paris
Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe
December 17, 2010 — March 5, 2011

Rink measuring 22m x 35m with a 150m² ice garden for the teeny tots (3-6 year-olds). Open every day: weekdays from midday – 8:00 pm, weekend and public holidays from 9am – 10pm. Last admission one hour before closing. Free if you have skates, 5€ to hire them (free for kids). You can also take a free skating lesson at the weekend between 10am and midday, but places are very limited: for 5-8 year-olds: 8 places, for 9-12 year-olds: 10 places and for 13-80 year-olds: 12 places.

Editor’s Note:  You can also skate indoors year round at L’Espace sportif Pailleron in the 19th or at the Sonja Henie patinoire, part of the Palais omnisports at Bercy in the 12th.  Follow the links for hours and fees.

Hitting the Gym

If you are still learning French, you may think that taking an exercise class in Paris is beyond your capabilities.  But think about it this way; if you’ve ever been to an aerobics class with the volume cranked up, you know that it’s possible to follow along by watching rather than by listening.  On the other hand, the prospect of going right when everyone else is going left, or being singled out by the instructor, can be downright scary.   But since you probably need to get out there and burn off a few of those pastries you’ve been eating, here are a few vocabulary words you’ll likely hear at the gym.   If nothing else, you’ll soon learn to count to eight forwards and backwards.  Courage!

Parts of the Body

la tête: head
le visage: face
le menton chin
le cou: neck
la poitrine: chest
les abdominaux: abdominals
le bras: arm
les épaules: shoulders
les pectoraux: pectorals
le coude: elbow
le poignet: wrist
la main: hand
le dos: back
les fessiers, fesses: butt
la jambe: leg
les cuisses: thighs
le genou: knee
la cheville: ankle
le pied:  foot
la pointe des pieds: tiptoe


Aller: to go but often in this case, let’s go
Balancer: to swing
Bloquer: to hold in place
Courir: to run
Descendre: to go down, descend
S’écarter: to move apart (as in moving legs or arms apart)
Flechir: to bend
Lever: to raise
Marcher: to walk
Monter: to go up
Se pencher: to incline
Plier: to bend
Pomper: to pump (as in pushups)
Relâcher: to let go, relax
Respirer: to breath in
Rester: to stay in place
Souffler: to breath out
Sauter: to jump


droite: right
gauche: left
en haut: up high
en bas: down low
vers la glace: to the mirror
à l’arrière: to the rear
changer de côté: to change sides
l’autre côté: the other side


le banc: bench
le baton: stick
l’elastique: rubber band
les haltères: hand weights, dumb bells
le rameur: rowing machine
le tapis: the mat
le tapis de course: treadmill 

The Gym

le vestiaire:  locker room
hamman: sauna
les douches: showers
le casier: locker
la cabine: dressing cubicle

And then there are my personal favorites:  le stretching and le step touch.  Both of these mean exactly what you’d think.

Gear Up!

Updated September 2013
Need new soccer cleats?  Going skiing for the first time?  Your kid decides to take up tennis?  Here’s where to go.
For the serious outdoorsy type, head to Au Vieux Campeur in the Latin Quarter.  This store, actually a collection of stores scattered in and around rue des Ecoles, has everything you’ll need for hiking, camping, skiing, water sports, plus tons of maps and guides.  The only trick is that each department is in a different location (with 26 in all) so you’ll want to check the Web site before you go.
If you are on a budget or buying gear for a first timer, a better bet is Decathlon.   Relatively few consumer goods in France can be described as bargains when compared with North America, but Decathlon is definitely the exception.  Where else can you find a sleeping bag for under 10 euros or a fleece pullover for under 8?  This gear won’t last a lifetime and certainly won’t work in extreme conditions, but it will get you through.  There are four locations in the city of Paris:  avenue de Wagram, near L’Etoile; Madeleine; Aquaboulevard (in the 15th) and Avenue de France (in the 13th) plus multiple others around Ile de France.
Another multipurpose address for the budget conscious is Go Sport which has multiple locations in or close to Paris including Italie 2, La Defense, Les Halles, Montparnasse, Porte de St. Cloud, and Republique.
Other options include:
Adidas:  One store at 51 rue de Rivoli in the 1st
Courir:  mostly shoes  (many locations in Paris and Ile de France)
Foot Locker (shoes only; seven stores in Paris and more elsewhere in Ile de France)
Golf Plus:  2 locations in Paris; others in Orgeval, Pontault Combault, Saint Cloud and Versailles

Swimming in the Sunshine

Summertime in Paris can be magical but it can also be stifling and stinky.  So when the heat and humidity get going, take heart that there are plenty of public pools.  Better yet, there are a number that are either outdoors or in facilities with retractable roofs.   Here’s a partial list of pools en plein air.  Note:  If these are not convenient for you, you may find that there is a pool with a solarium — lots of glass and windows — closer to you.  While not technically “outdoor” pools, you may enjoy them too.

You’ll want to consult the city of Paris Web site for details on hours, fees, and special offerings. You can pay by the visit or purchase a card for 10 entries or a three-month subscription.  Hours and fees can vary by the time of year so it’s always best to check in advance. 

Piscine Roger-Le-Gall
34, boulevard Carnot, Paris 75012
Métro : Porte de Vincennes

Piscine Joséphine Baker
quai François Mauriac, Paris 75013
Métro : Quai de la Gare ou François-Mitterrand
Notes: This historic pool is actually suspended in the Seine River.  Not to worry, you will be swimming in the pool, not in the river, but the setting is dramatic to say the least.

Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles
5, place Paul Verlaine, Paris 75013
Métro : Place d’Italie

Piscine Keller
14 rue de l’Ingénieur Keller, Paris 75015
Métro : Charles-Michels, Javel

Piscine d’Auteuil
Route des Lacs à Passy (Bois de Boulogne), Paris 75016
Métro : Ranelagh

Piscine Bernard Lafay
79, rue de la Jonquière, Paris 75017
Métro : Porte de Clichy, Brochant, Guy-Moquet

Piscine Hébert
2, rue des Fillettes, Paris 75018
Métro : Marx-Dormoy

Piscine Georges Hermant
4, David d’Angers, Paris 75019
Métro : Danube

Piscine Georges-Vallerey
148, avenue Gambetta, Paris 75020
Métro : Porte des Lilas

Two pools in close-in suburban communities also merit mention:  the Centre Aquatique in Neuilly sur Seine (a long walk from the Les Sablons metro stop or just a few blocks from the 82 bus stop) and the Palais des Sports in Puteaux, which is on an island in the Seine between Neuilly and La Defense.   If you’re not convinced, check out this blog post from  one of my favorite Paris bloggers, Emilie Johnson, who regrettably has now decamped to New York City.


Cooling Off  in Paris  from Gridskipper (note: details on fees and hours are not necessarily up to date)

Figuring Out Fitness in Paris

by Alison Benney

Nothing like a sunny weekend to remind us that beach weather is around the corner. It’s time to get serious about slogging/melting off winter weight and prepping for that bikini or speedo. Tired of the same old fitness program? Try something new. These days, Paris has plenty of exercise programs to choose from. You may not find cutting-edge classes like Indoboarding or Tread N’ Shed, but you can choose from a number of studios to practice still-trendy Pilates, Bikram yoga, Swedish gym and more recently, Zumba and boot camp.

Joining a gym is the typical approach, and there are four main chains in and around Paris: Club Med Gym, Espace Vit’Halles, Forest Hills, Les Cercles de la Forme and Fitness First. The clubs offer everything from pole dancing to putting greens, and the prices seem to be going down rather than up. One longstanding member at Club Med says he pays 400 euros a year, although the typical fee is between 700-1,200 euros, depending on the package. You may be eligible for a discount if your employer has a comité d’entreprise. Check before signing on the dotted line.

If fitness à la carte is more your style, head to one of the many dance or yoga centers around town, such as the well-known (and much-filmed) Centre de Danse du Marais or the Centre de Yoga du Marais for a variety of ongoing classes or Sunday workshops; check programs at the Anglophone churches, like the American Church where I teach; check online for the exploding numbers of meetups; or sign up for personal training with independent teachers like Fred Hoffman, or from a company like Chameleon Fitness, which also offers on-site corporate fitness classes.

For those who would like to sweat totally in French, ask your local mairie for information about municipal gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools and subsidized indoor or outdoor group classes, as well as city-sponsored hikes. And of course, riding a Vélib does double duty as public transport and exercise.

Other municipal activities include the famous roller-blading group skate each weekend, and city-sponsored races, including the marathon, the semi-marathon, and the Paris-Versailles run. If you’re tired of running in the Luxembourg Gardens or the Champ de Mars, head to the Bois de Vincennes or the Bois de Boulogne for running and biking paths and exercise circuits. Or further afield, take the train to one of the forests around the Ile de France. The Forêt de Rambouillet, for instance, has a great bike path (“piste cyclable”) running through it, with a beach tucked in midway. Fontainebleau is known for both its climbing surfaces and its riding paths.

If none of these inspire you, go cultural and take time out for tourism. Climbing the 387 steps up the Notre Dame bell tower, hiking the hallways of the Louvre, or trekking the 2km tunnel through the catacombs will tone the heart, strengthen legs and burn calories. Best yet, you’ll be in shape for your summer visitors – and, of course, the beach.

Other Paris Exercise Resources

The sports & fitness sections of Time Out Paris, Expatica and Paris Anglo.

The Dailey Method

Alison Benney has been teaching community fitness classes in Paris for over 25 years. She has written articles and presented at expat events, and eight years ago gathered and categorised her accumulated collection of fitness resources into a Web site, It lists almost everything you want to know about keeping in fit in Paris, including where you can find the classes listed above, plus a calendar of selected fitness events. Follow her on Twitter.