As a very keen runner, I realized that Paris – with its pavement café culture and lax attitude towards dogs’ toilet habits – might not be the ideal place to train. However, little did I know the numerous obstacles – the perils of jogging in Paris – I would have to overcome each time I pulled on my trainers.
The tourists: map-reading, awestruck or, worse still, love-struck, they tend to look at the sky, the ground, into each other’s eyes or up at elegant Haussmannian buildings. However, they are rather less aware of what’s going right next to them (i.e. me charging past) and happily straddle the pavement two or three abreast.
The cars: do not expect them to stop willingly. Ever. The art of a good Parisian runner is judging if, with a little acceleration, you can whiz by before the lights change and the engines rev back into action. For a Brit accustomed to polite codes of roadway courtesy and to giving cheery waves as cars patiently wait, I admit that this was initially quite a shock.
The bikes: Equally unwilling (or unable) to stop, but doubly dangerous as often manned by:
A) Unsteady, inexperienced Parisians whose idea of physical exercise is a gentle Sunday stroll to the boulangerie for fresh croissants.
B) Tourists. Having read the above, imagine the chaos when they haul themselves on to a heavy, unwieldy and highly unsexy Vélib (hire-and-drop bikes dotted at strategic points around the city). Don’t be misled by quaint wicker baskets and slim steel frames that adorn postcards and appear in films like Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain!
The beggars: Do they really think I carry around loose change in my skin-tight running trousers? Apparently so.
The dogs: They rule supreme in Paris. I’ve even heard that there are more dogs than children in the city. I digress. I have learned to steer clear of all canine specimen after various incidents involving barking, biting (well, some very close calls) and being tripped up by leashes as unconcerned owners look on nonchalantly as if to say, “Bon, if you will insist on donning that ridiculous running outfit and puffing around in a rather ungainly manner, you can’t expect to not get caught in a couple sticky situations…”
However, never fear! For the intrepid runner who likes to train on the edge there are still some green(ish) options:
1.) Parc Buttes Chaumont, 19ème (dramatic former quarry ideal for mountain training).
2.) The banks of the Seine (for the romantic culture lover, can include Notre Dame & the Louvre).
3.) La Coulée Verte, 12ème (a city escape along old railway tracks to the Vincennes woods).
Written by Victoria Wall for the HiP Paris Blog.