Outdoor activities in Paris
There’s outdoor fun to be had anywhere in Paris, whether you’re on your own, with friends or with family
Once the sun comes out, Parisians love getting outdoors! And there are plenty of things to do for everyone, from fitness classes to gardening, treasure hunts, and exhibitions … Read on!
Playing sports in Paris and the surrounding area
There is no shortage of budding sportsmen and women in the parks of Paris, and the city offers a thousand and one possibilities for physical exercise.
More info on Where to play sports outdoors in Paris?
Training sessions with or without a coach
The ActivCorner, Urban Challenge, Urban Sports Club… Many apps, platforms and gyms have adapted and now offer coaching and bootcamp workouts outdoors – a great way of exercising using public infrastructure rather than staying cooped up indoors.
If you want to work out on your own, Paris has numerous sporting facilities. This year, the Parc de Villette has opened a 1,540 m² street-workout space. Plus, you can also work out in the capital’s many pubic parks and gardens, along the Coulée Verte, on the pedestrianized Seine riverbanks … You are simply spoilt for choice!
Tennis, skateboarding, swimming or petanque
Paris has an abundance of sports facilities: skateparks for skateboarders and riders (Skate parc Bercy, République, Skate Park Léon Cladel à Bourse, Bowl de la Muette, Skatepark Quai de Jemmapes …), tennis courts to rent by the hour or outdoor swimming pools like the Josephine Baker pool or the one at Butte-aux-Cailles. Petanque fans enjoy meeting up along the Canal de l’Ourq, on the courts on Avenue Richard Lenoir, on Auai de Valmy, at the Arènes de Lutèce or in the Palais-Royal gardens.
Paris has any number of places where you can go for a run, and of course plenty of choice for waterside jogging – the banks of the Seine, of the Canal Saint-Martin, of the Canal de L’Ourcq and of the Marne river.
The Coulée Verte promenade, the Cité Universitaire park and the Martin Luther King park are popular with runners out to get some fresh air amid lots of greenery, while trail running enthusiasts in search of more challenging terrain can often be spotted in the city’s two hilly parks, Butte-Chaumont and Montsouris.
Football, handball and basketball
With so many grounds and stadiums dotted around the city, fans of ball games find it easy to play a match with friends in their own neighbourhood.
Football is hugely popular in France, across all age groups. Amateur footballers in the 11th arrondissement head to the Rue de la Roquette football pitch or the one on Rue Emile Lepeu, which has artificial turf. There are high-quality synthetic turf pitches at the Louis Braille sports complex and the Léo Lagrange stadium. The Jules Noël stadium in the 14th is a magnet for football and athletics fans throughout the week. And there are basketball courts in practically every part of the city.
Where to play basketball in Paris
What could be better than visiting Paris and its surroundings by bicycle? The many cycle paths along the Seine, the canals or even the Bois de Vincennes promise great rides on two wheels. With a guided tour, a Vélib or rental bikes, the options are endless! And for the more adventurous, Paris is the starting point for the Véloscénie, which leads to Mont-Saint-Michel, or the Avenue Verte, which leads to London. Routes to Sceaux from the Coulée Verte, Claye-Souilly along the Canal de L'Ourcq or even Versailles become very popular when the weather is fine.
Sherwood Parc is a paradise for thrill-seekers, with a number of treetop trails only a few minutes’ drive from Paris. Put your agility to the test in this beautiful natural setting – there are nearly 41 different trails for all skill levels, with 2,000 metres of zip lines in total. A great outing with friends, or with the kids (5 years and older).
A day out at one of the leisure centres or water sports centres in the Île-de-France region is an opportunity to get away from the city’s bustle. The Créteil water sports centre has a water slide, wave pool and any number of other aquatic attractions, including catamaran sailing and sailboarding. The Île de loisirs de Verneuil-sur-Seine, a charming place dotted with ponds, is another popular place. It’s a lovely setting in which to learn the basics of canoeing or kayaking, hire a sailboat, have a swim, go horse riding or play mini-golf. This beautiful spot on the banks of the Seine is perfect for a cycle ride or a walk, and an ideal running route. The towns of Jablines, Saint Quentin en Yvelines and Bois-le Roi also have leisure centres where you can play tennis, mini-golf, water sports or beach volleyball, and go swimming or skateboarding.
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Outdoor activities with the kids
Pony rides, puppet shows, duck fishing, sailboat races – Paris parks have all kinds of activities for kids to enjoy. There are merry-go-rounds, water slides and other attractions in most of the bigger parks. The Jardin des Plantes offers them the excitement of losing themselves in a maze.
Pedalos (and boats for older kids) are available to hire from Marin d’Eau Douce on the Canal de l’Ourcq – you can even take out an electric boat and enjoy a picnic on the water with the family.
The prettiest Parisian parks and gardens
The Jardin d’Acclimatation is nothing short of a children’s paradise in summer. It is the oldest amusement park in Paris, with 40-odd merry-go-rounds and attractions within a setting of great natural beauty. A little train departs from Porte Maillot and chugs its way through the park. With a wading pool and some fountains, the park is a great place to cool off in the stifling summer heat.
To see some animals, head to the Paris Zoo – look out for the famous Grand Rocher, the artificial rock rising around it. The zoo is divided into five natural habitats or ‘biozones’: Patagonia, Africa, Europe, Guyana and Madagascar. Nearly 1,000 animals can be seen here – a fascinating discovery for people of all ages. The smaller Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes – one the world’s oldest zoos – offers a chance to see a variety of small animals, birds and reptiles.
History, classic monuments, natural beauty – a walking tour is a leisurely way to discover all the different facets of the City of Lights. Whatever your particular area of interest, there’s a tour to suit, be it the countryside in Paris, secret courtyards, iconic monuments, street art, the lives of famous men and women – and much more.
The most adventurous and thrill-seeking visitors head for one of the four AccroCamp tree parks. Located in the middle of the forest in Chaville, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Rueil-Malmaison and Giverny, they offer courses in the trees 8 to 12 metres above the ground. On the programme: Himalayan bridges, climbing walls, zip lines, Tarzan lianas, jumps into the void and other swings. A sporty and fun moment to share with friends, family or couples in the open air!
Art has been escaping into streets and gardens. You can always admire the works of important artists to be found around town, like the monumental street art works in the 13th or 19th arrondissements, the Buren columns, fountains, the Kiosque des Noctambules or the statues in the gardens of the Musée Rodin or in the Luxembourg Gardens.
Walks and outings
Many companies like Échappée Belle, Memories France … offer fun, offbeat, and exciting tours to discover the city in a new light. On a walk, with a guide, information cards or your phone, you will see the city from a whole new perspective: the Paris of crime, the ‘Années Folles’, the secrets of Montmartre … Urban orienteering and treasure hunts are also great options with apps like Paris Region Aventure or Explorhappy. A must for families and friends.
From spring onwards, green spaces offer gardening classes to learn more about plants. Of note, the Maison du Jardinage at Bercy, and also the association Culture(s) en Herbe(s) which holds workshops in the Jardin Marcotte (11th) or at the Murs à Pêches in Montreuil. You can ask your neighbourhood associations what is available in your area.
And if you are looking for a water activity, why not go rowing on Lake Daumesnil, or on the lake in the Bois de Boulogne or rent one of the little boats (no licence required) at Marin d’Eau Douce on the canals? A change of scene guaranteed!