Tag Archives: running

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

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, ParisFitness.com. 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.