advertisement

“Working out” is still a somewhat foreign concept in France, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise. Though gyms are few and far between (for visitors; nearby all require an annual fee), pools are everywhere, and any enterprising sports enthusiast can easily find places to bike, in-line skate, or run.

Cycling

You can rent a bike by the hour in the Bois de Vincennes at Lac Daumesnil or Lac des Minimes and in the Bois de Boulogne (in front of the Jardin d’Acclimatation or next to the Lac Inferieur [lower lake]). If you are up to the challenge of Parisian traffic and want to cycle around the city, you can try Velib’, the city’s wildly popular self-service bike program—just be sure you are armed with a chip-and-pin credit card or have picked up an Internet subscription for your stay (for details on how the system works, visit www.velib.fr and/or see. For longer-term rentals, try Paris à Vélo, c’est Sympa! (https://parisvelosympa.fr/home-2/) or Bike About Tours (www.bikeabouttours.com).

Ice-Skating

Two indoor ice-skating rinks are open to the public: Patinoire Pailleron, 32 rue E. Pailleron, 19th arrond. (www.pailleron19.com; 01-40-40-27-70; Métro: Bolivar), open year-round, and Patinoire Accorhotels Arena, 222 Quai de Bercy, 12th arrond. (www.accorhotelsarena.com/fr/arena/la-patinoire; [tel] 01-58-70-16-75; Métro: Bercy), open September to May. The latter has DJ–hosted soirées until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. In addition, every year, outdoor rinks are set up from December through February in public spaces; two of the best are found on the Champs de Mars park and at Trocadéro, where you can fill up on Eiffel Tower views as you glide. Both are free—you’ll just have to pay a small fee for skate rental. 

Parks

Two huge parks on the outskirts of Paris offer a chance to bike, run, and even watch horse races.

The Best Paris Parks & Gardens:

*  The best gardens: It’s hard to choose between the grand geometry of the Tuileries, the relaxed elegance of the Luxembourg Gardens, and the colorful palette of Giverny.

*  The best parks: The Bois de Boulogne has lakes, gardens, and even a small amusement park (the Jardin d’Acclimatation; for your rambling pleasure. While there’s no amusement park at the Bois de Vincennes, there is a medieval castle, the Château de Vincennes, complete with ramparts and a keep as well as the newly re-opened zoo, the Parc Zoologique de Paris.

*  The best primrose promenade: The Promenade Plantée must be the world’s skinniest garden: Because it’s set atop a former train viaduct, you can stroll among the flowers and greenery from the place de la Bastille all the way to the Bois de Vincennes.

Public Pools

Paris has 39 public pools (piscines, pronounced “pee-seen”), and they are open to everyone. They are generally quite clean and always have lockers and dressing areas. The size of the pools varies—most are 25m (82 ft.), and a few, like the one at Les Halles, are 50m (164 ft.). The most unusual is the Piscine Josephine Baker (01-56-61-96-50; Métro: Quai de la Gare), a floating swimming pool docked on quai François Mauriac in the Seine (don’t worry, the water is not from the river). The best way to find addresses and hours is to visit www.paris.fr/piscines. Entry to all municipal pools is 3€; you can buy a card for 10 entries for 24€. Swimming caps are obligatory, but you can purchase them from self-service machines at the pools.

Running

Today, le footing, as running is called, is considered pretty commonplace, though nowhere near as omnipresent as in London or New York. You can run anywhere, of course, but a few favored places are around the lakes in the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, the Promenade Plantée, along the quays of the Seine, and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Tennis

The French are huge tennis fans, and Parisians are no exception. Paris has some 43 public tennis courts, all of which can be reserved online at the city’s website (www.paris.fr/tennis). You will need to upload a scan of your passport onto the website, and validation can take up to 7 days, so do this before you leave home. The courts in the Jardin du Luxembourg are particularly pleasant, as are those in the Marais, 5–7 rue Neuve-Saint-Pierre, 4th arrond. (Métro: Saint Paul). The fee for 1 hour of play is 9€ in an open court and 17€ for covered courts. Note: You will need to bring your own tennis equipment.

The New Banks of the Seine & Paris Plage

In a bid to make Paris more environmentally and visitor-friendly, portions of the Seine’s banks have been turned into pedestrian- and bike-only stretches. The first part covers the area between the Musée d’Orsay to the Pont d’Alma (known as Les Berges, or “the embankments”), and since April 2017, the quays between Bastille and the Tuilleries gardens have also been embellished with promenades, gardens, cultural spaces, cafes, sports facilities, and picnic areas along a stretch known as the Rives de Seine. This is great news for walkers, as it’s now possible to stroll between Bastille and the Eiffel Tower (across bridges) without meeting a single car! You can also eat, drink, flirt at one of the bars, walk, or even take a tai chi class at various points along the route. You’ll find kids’ activities here, too. 

Meanwhile, another hugely successful riverside event is now into its second decade: Paris Plage. Every year from mid-July to mid-August, tons of sand is shipped in and dumped on the riverbanks to create a fun and funky “beach,” complete with beach volleyball, tea dances, concerts, drink stands, and all sorts of excellent silliness. Success has been such that the beach can be found not only on the Voie Georges Pompidou (near the Hôtel de Ville, 4th arrond.) but also along edges of the Bassin de la Villette (19th arrond.), where you can rent paddleboats and canoes. The number of activities and events swells every season; for a complete rundown, visit the city’s Que Faire à Paris (What to Do in Paris) website: http://quefaire.paris.fr/parisplages.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.