When you think of Paris: Adventures within the Great Outdoors is not the first thing that springs in your thoughts.
Parisians love to be outside. Whether dining en terrasse, or playing tennis within the Luxembourg Gardens, there is an abundance of outside activities in Paris.Although Paris is renowned for its galleries and museums, there are plenty of outdoor activities to obtain stuck into. Glide beyond the Eiffel Tower on roller blades, or ride a horse with the Luxembourg Gardens. Whatever you do, just go for it.
Those categories seem ready-made for Paris, a town designed in mind for savvy travellers who wish to wine and dine, go through the cultural underpinnings of Western Civilization and romance your day away in the city full of enough mood lighting to help make the most hard-core romantic swoon.
What’s in Paris for that “hikey, bikey” crowd, people who spend a good portion of their lives playing with Nature and her brood, doing activities spawned through the desire to interact with hills and paths, rivers and lakes, trees and grass?
For anyone with the jones to get in your Patagonia pants and Columbia fleece vests and go through the “outdoors” in Paris, albeit the “lite,” tamed, mostly-manicured version.
Here are a few ideas for you…
Cycling in Paris
As i have not braved the streets of Paris on the bicycle yet, I hear wonderful things in the converted who say that the Vélib’ cycling product is the only way to get around the city (in decent weather, that’s).
New this year for tourists with no “smart chip” debit card usually required to rent the cycles: online ordering. Browse the Vélib’ site here for more information on how you can rent a Vélib’ bicycle in Paris.
Jogging and walking
You should get some running shoes and join not just Parisians but also visitors and expats inside a daily ritual of pumping blood towards the heart via a run/jog/walk. Primarily between 7:30 and 9 am, and again we have spent hours (6-8 pm or thereabouts) you’ll find fellow runners in the following parks: Central Paris: Jardin du Luxembourg, Southern Paris: Bois de Vincennes, Parc Montsouris, Western Paris: Bois de Boulogne, Northeastern Paris: Parc des Buttes Chaumont
You should check the hours of Paris’ parks as well as their exact locations here at the town of Paris parks page. To discover other parks, consult the prior link or this list of woods, parks, and gardens on Wikipedia.
For path-walking and nature-observing, the above-mentioned Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne are perfect. Just at the Bois de Vincennes may be the lovely botanic gardens at the Parc Floral de Paris where meandering paths and modern pavilions display lovely flowers and plants.
If you are up for getting a bit outside of Paris (55 km/35 mi), and only have a vehicle you can drive around the A6 southeast of Paris, or even the gumption to take the SCNF train on a roughly 35 minute ride from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau, the nation’s Forest of Fontainebleau will really scratch that nature-loving itch, with activities including climbing and bouldering.
Seeing the sights in Paris by foot provides you with an “urban hiking” experience in addition to plenty of exercise.
My personal favourite urban trek would be to walk from the southern end from the Canal Saint Martin starting near Place en République in the 10th arrondissement. I like to walk completely up to the Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad using the Rotonde de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement (at M° Jaurès) and when I am in a truly energetic mood, continue completely east where the canal changes towards the l’Ourcq. Here it goes on to the Parc en Villette, another of Paris’ truly open spaces with grass which it is okay to walk or picnic (something which is not the case in many of Paris’ parks).
Although it may not have the reputation of becoming an outdoor mecca, Paris does have places approximating the truly amazing outdoors if the urban cosmopolitanism from the city starts to get to you because it sometimes does this Colorado-raised girl. It might not be backpacking the wilds from the Rockies or mountain biking in Moab, but Paris has its own natural charms, if you are prepared to discover them.