If you’re visiting Paris for the first time and you love to run, fear not, Paris has plenty of excellent places to do just that. Before you venture out, however, there are a few running pointers you should know.
For starters, and this is the most important one, Parisians don’t run through the city streets. In the US, it’s normal to see individuals running on city sidewalks. Perhaps they’re running to get to a park or maybe they’ve carved out a route that winds through the city center. In Paris, this would be weird.
The streets in Paris are often smaller, narrower, and the city itself is shaped like a snail making running on the charming cobblestone streets quite difficult and annoying for those walking. If you find yourself in Paris and you want to jog, you must walk to a designated running area. Running areas include parks and promenades strictly for bikers and joggers, such as next to the Seine river (quais de Seine). In Paris, once you finish running your chosen loop, you walk back home.
Secondly, expensive running wear is not required when jogging in the Capitol. In cities like New York and LA, running in anything other than Lulu Lemon, Nike, or other pricey active-wear is rare. Parisians, on the other hand, tend to opt for lower-priced workout garb from sporting stores such as Decathlon. The consensus among the French seems to be: if you’re going to work out and sweat in clothes, what’s the point of breaking the bank to buy them? At Decathlon, you can get quality running attire for 20€ or less. Cotton t-shirts and comfortable black running shorts sell for as little as 3€.
Additionally, and don’t gawk if you see it, but some Parisians jog in their work clothes at lunch. No joke. You might see a man jogging in his button-up dress shirt in-between meetings. While in the US this would be strange, no one seems to notice in Paris. Also, Parisians don’t always run in sneakers. Vans or a pair of walking flats are often used. All that to say, if you accidentally forgot your running clothes and shoes and are still dying to get out there, vas-y!
Lastly, if you consider yourself a medium to fast paced runner in the US, you’re going to feel like an Olympic sprinter in Paris. Most Parisians don’t really run, they jog. They jog alone and look at the scenic views. They jog with friends and talk. True story, I have observed couples jogging and holding hands. This might seem annoying for the competitive American who prefers to win the race. Not for the French. No one’s eager to dash to the finish line. Case in point, if you find the Parisian spirit lulling you to slow down your usual gallop and enjoy your surroundings a bit more than usual, do it. That’s the running culture in Paris, c’est la bonne vie.
Here’s a list of unique and exceptional running spots in Paris to try for your next jog:
Jardin des Plantes (75005)
It houses Paris’s main botanical garden and a zoo! Enjoy a three to four-mile loop in a beautiful and tranquil environment. – map
La Coulée Verte (75012)
An elevated promenade over arches that will have you dipping and diving through trees, flowers, ornate tunnels and parks, La Coulée Verte is a magical run. This six-mile loop was once an old railway line. – map
Jardin de Luxembourg (75006)
One of the more popular running spots in the sixth arrondissement, Jardin de Luxembourg was constructed in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France. A luxurious spot to run with plenty of space for everyone. – map
Parc Monceau (75017)
While small, Parc Monceau is a lovely place to jog and take in the sights. Delight in a stretch after on one of the surrounding grassy knolls. – map
Parc Rives de Seine / Quais de la Seine
Parc Rives de Seine hugs the Seine river from Place de la Concorde to Quai de la Rapée. It’s a charming, car-free spot to get your sweat on and enjoy the easy breezy Paris scenery along the way. You can also run on the car-free left bank, from Pont d’Alma to the Musée d’Orsay. – map