Ah, Paris, the City of Light. And croissants and chocolate…and cheese…and also wine. It’s easy to indulge in a city that seems purpose-built for gourmands, and frankly, a bit of Parisian indulgence is absolutely essential. Luckily, lots of Paris’s sights can be observed on foot, and a jog in Paris is the perfect antidote to all its indulgences— that’s if you know where to go.
Anyone who has been to Paris for longer than five minutes can tell you that the city suffers from terrible congestion (of both the human and vehicular variety), and it’s not an especially green city, so it’s absolutely essential that you map out a running route in advance. One of Paris’s most iconic grande dame hotels, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, has created just such a route to provide guests with interesting, safe, and green runs that show off the best of Paris.
The route’s first two kilometers take place along the flat, largely car-free riverbanks of the Seine and then you have the option to add another two kilometers with a loop around the Champ de Mars. Because the route goes through a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the area between Pont de Sully and Pont d’Iéna), expect this jog to be anything but boring.
Les Berges de Seine
The first two kilometers of the route run west from Quai d’Orsay (by the Musée d’Orsay) to Quai Branly (by Eiffel Tower) on the Seine’s south bank, known as the Left Bank. Of course, you can extend the run along the Seine in either direction.
There are 32 bridges crossing over the Seine, and as you’re running along the Left Bank you’ll pass some of the prettiest including the Art Nouveau gem, Pont Alexandre III, which is worth running down if you’re coming from the Right Bank (north of the Seine). This ornate bridge links the Champs Elysées and the Grand Palais and Petit Palais with Napoleon’s tomb, Les Invalides (the golden dome). The bridge was named after the Russian Czar as a means to promote goodwill between France and Russia, and it opened for the world’s fair in 1900, which introduced magical and futuristic innovations like escalators and talking films to the people of Paris. More recently, the bridge was featured in Adele’s “Someone Like You” music video.
Continue running west along the Seine and you’ll hit the official start of The Promenade des Berges de la Seine, a recently reclaimed pedestrian waterfront park that ends at Pont de ‘Alma. (This stretch tends to be more crowded in the afternoons, but it’s achingly beautiful at sunset and generally very safe.)
Keep running west and you’ll hit Quai Branly, where you’ll find Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel, one Paris’ many carrousels, though this is said to be the only one in the city that rotates clockwise. It’s a favorite photo-opp spot, as you can see the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Champ de Mars
Quai Branly deliver you dizzying perspectives of the Eiffel Tower, the world’s most visited public monument. “Even though it’s a touristy place, it’s still the Eiffel Tower,” says Leroux. “It’s the best of the city, and one of the greenest areas. Paris is a huge city, but it’s not very green, but here it’s green, there’s lots of space, and it’s safe, so in my opinion it’s perfect.”
If you want to extend your route for another two kilometers, run the perimeter of the pretty and romantic Champ de Mars, which functioned as communal gardens for 16th-century Parisian peasants and now serves a favorite park for locals and their dogs, as well as for tourists. The surprisingly peaceful rectangular park is marked with wide dirt avenues lined with elms, so it’s easy on the knees and shady, and you’ll get treated to views of the Eiffel Tower from every angle imaginable. At the south end of the park, you’ll find the art installation, Mur pour la Paix (Wall for Peace) in front of the impressive École Militaire, a vast military college. You can still see bullet holes in the building from when the French flushed out the Nazis during the German occupation.
The park is actually open 24 hours, so it’s a popular spot for an evening run. Also, thanks to the wildly efficient Eurostar, you won’t have jetlag to contend with, so a morning run is also a smart idea as the air will be cleanest.
Eurostar operates up to 19 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with one-way fares starting from £29 (based on a return journey)