Green spaces in Paris and its environs offer all kinds of outdoor activities – everything from tennis and basketball to cycling, golfing, walking, boating and water sports. Paris’s green spaces have been designed to encourage people to get plenty of outdoor exercise and fresh air.
Playing sport in and around Paris
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.
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).
Skateboarding is a great way to get some exercise all year round. The Poissy skatepark – a very comprehensive skatepark suited to all skill levels – is popular with local skaters. In Paris proper, head to the well-lit indoor EGP skatepark at Porte de la Chapelle, or the Jemmapes skatepark, which offers plenty of local colour. Place de République or the town of Arcueil south of Paris are another two good places to skate.
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.
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 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.