There are many opportunities to run in Paris, either for fun or because you’re the sporty type who can’t help it. If you’re a complete newbie like I was before I started running in 2012, you might be wondering where to run, when the next marathon takes place, where to get the right gear, and how to find a running club. Whether you’re into urban running or looking for forest trails, Paris has both. And don’t let anyone fool you into thinking Parisians don’t run or that you’d get strange looks from the locals. Maybe that was true back in 1990, but Parisians have definitely caught the running bug!
WHERE TO RUN IN PARIS
RUNNING GROUPS IN PARIS
There are many “casual” running groups in Paris (meaning you can just show up with no long-term commitment), with runners of all different levels and often different nationalities.
- Let’s Run Paris! Meetup
- Paris Trail Running Meetup
- Adidas Runners (several groups in Paris, in French)
- Mikkeller Running Club
- The Hash House Harriers (two groups in Paris)
Hash House Harriers? It’s Not What You’re Thinking
If you’re not familiar with this international running club, you’re missing out on all of the fun. It has nothing to do with marijuana. The original Hash House Harriers in 1938 used to meet up at the officers’ canteen in colonial-era Malaysia, which they called the Hash House (hash = food). The Harriers part comes from the old-fashioned Hares & Hounds game, when one runner is the hare who lays the trail that the other runners, the Hounds, try to find. The Hare makes sure the trail, marked with flour, is full of wrong turns, muddy detours, false shortcuts…and beer. There are now almost 2000 groups in 185 countries, with two groups in the Ile-de-France: Paris and Sans Clue (St-Cloud, western suburbs). Anyone, any age, both walkers and tri-athletes, can just show up and join the fun. You get socialization, beer and exercise — as much or as little as you can handle — all in one afternoon. The Hash doesn’t feel like you’re really running, perfect for beginners or occasional runners.
FRENCH MARATHONS & RUNNING EVENTS
WHERE TO BUY RUNNING GEAR IN PARIS
Go Sport and Decathlon are the two largest sports chains in Paris. There are also smaller boutiques like Courir that focus on running shoes. But all three of these, while inexpensive, are not really for serious runners (the selection being pretty weak, and the quality okay for occasional runners). If you’re looking for serious gear like compression tights, heart monitors, protein bars, and quality shoes and clothing, try Marathon (their experts watch how you run before they recommend a shoe), Le Pape, Endurance Shop, Au Vieux Campeur, or Team Outdoor.
Although you may be tempted to buy expensive items online to save some euros, don’t forget that if you purchase anything outside the EU there will be customs fees before it’s delivered.
I recommend checking out the stands at the running expos (often called “Villages”) that take place before all of the major running events like the Paris Marathon (it’s also a great way to learn about races and running events all over France and Europe), but keep in mind you usually can’t return items purchased there.