Jogging along a Paris bridge (Kevin Bongart)

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.

Dodging city life, jogging along the Seine (D’Alk)

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!

Philippe Charles

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…”

Dodging pillars in the Palais Royal (Multimaniaco)

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).

Jogging along the Seine (Julie Kertesz)

Written by Victoria Wall for the HiP Paris Blog.

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Victoria Wall

Following hours of foreign dictionary studying at university and a tapas-and-cerveza filled year in Madrid, Victoria decided it was high time to put her French and la belle vie Parisienne to the test. This Brit from near-London initially worked as an enthusiastic-yet-underpaid English teacher and has now become a translator-copywriter-community manager for a French website. Two years after arriving in Paris, she has had ample opportunity to fall amoureuse with every single arrondissement of the city of love and light, from picture postcard Montmartre to the winding backstreets of the almost provincial 20ème.


  1. Justine, I agree. At the beginning I felt a little self-conscious but now I just put my music on and zone out. I usually run early in the morning and never take public transport which helps!

  2. I see lots of runners in the places you mention (luxembourg, tuileries etc) but how do they get to these places in their running gear without me noticing? The handful of times I attempted to jog I felt so self-conscious in my sporty clothes en-route to the park I wanted to turn around immediately and abandon!

  3. I definitely had fun writing the article and reflecting on the ups & downs of my Parisian running experiences. Courtney, I’d highly recommend the Coulée Verte for comment-free running – it’s always brimming with sports fanatics and more causal Sunday runners. As for inter-runner etiquette in Paris, it’s not rare to receive an understanding smile of complicity as it starts to drizzle with rain or the temperature plunges below zero (though don’t expect more extended or enthusiastic banter).

    Bon running!

  4. Yes! It is already difficult for me to get myself to run, but living in Paris makes it all the more difficult. I hate running by the Seine or on the streets because I always receive comments. The only place I have enjoyed running in Paris is in the Jardin Luxembourg! Thanks for the post. I could definitely sympathize!

  5. You are a trooper and obviously a committed runner. From my gym faux pas that you linked to (thanks!), you see I don’t fare quite as well when it comes to exercising in Paris. 🙂

    Great post!

  6. Excellent insights! I love how the “running culture” differs from one city to the next.

    I found London to be runner-friendly, but that the runners did not appear very friendly to one another. (No “hello” or hand-waving?) New Orleans, on the other hand, was an unexpected runners paradise (if you don’t break an ankle on the uneven pavement). I haven’t run in Paris, yet… but will be sure to take your advice and beware of the canines!

  7. Thanks for including my Parisienne post! Thankfully, I’m not a serious runner! Great tips for those who are – will gladly share with my readers.

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