International Adventure Guide 2013: Paris, France

An adventure guide to Paris? Yes.

At first glance, Paris probably isn’t the go-to city for outdoor enthusiasts. Metros, brasseries and the Champs Elysées don’t really make the top of the list of an adventurer’s itinerary. But being the diverse and ever-changing big city that it is, there are plenty of opportunities for those travelers that like to blend their urban tours with a little bit of adventure. There are parks to explore, bike paths to navigate and even a beach to walk on barefoot in the summertime. If you thought Paris was only for the urbanite, think again.

The other benefit to exploring the City of Light through the adventure lens is that in a city that’s known for being fairly expensive, Paris’ outdoor options are actually all very budget friendly, meaning that you end up with a city visit that’s both fun and also easy on the wallet.

Ready to explore a Paris that goes beyond croissants and red wine? Allons-y!

Activities

Bike
There’s no better way to explore Paris than by bicycle. It’s not for the faint of heart though; navigating between pedestrians, Parisian traffic and adrenaline-seeking inline skaters, the urban biker has to pay sharp attention. You can plan your own route and rent a bike through the now-famous Parisian bikeshare system Vélib (read our guide on How to Ride Bike in Paris for more details, including payment options as the Vélib automated machines can be tricky with American debit and credit cards), or your can get on a guided tour. Check out the following operators, which offer a variety of tour options, as well as bike rentals if you want a more long-term bike rental than Velib allows for as the bikeshare system is intended for short distance trips.

Fat Bike Tours– American owned and operated, Fat Bike Tours was created with the English speaker in mind. If you are looking to get outside of Paris you can take them up on their Monet Garden tour. Tours start at 30€. http://fattirebiketours.com/paris

Blue Bike Tours – Blue Bike Tours is run by a French-American family, and their Hidden Paris tour will take you to all the places locals go in the neighborhoods of Saint Germain and the Marais. A true insider’s guide to the city. Tours start at 29€. http://www.bluebiketours-paris.com/

Paris Bike Tour – Paris Bike Tour offers a Seine-specific guided tour, learning about monuments and bridges along the way. Tours start at 32€.
http://www.parisbiketour.net/uk/

Run
Running has become the sport of active minded urbanites, and if you’re the kind of traveler that always packs a pair of running shoes, Paris will have plenty of options for you. A couple of tips for running in the city:

  1. Get up early. You’ll find that morning runs around 6 or 7 can be relatively quiet compared with the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day. Parisians aren’t crazy enough to get up at the crack of dawn, so if you enjoy morning runs, the city is yours.
  2. Find a park. There are plenty of parks in the city that are great for running. Don’t be afraid to get out of the city center: parks like Parc Monceau, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes are excellent for running adventures.
  3. Hit the Seine. There’s nothing quite like a long run along the iconic Seine. Plus it makes that dinner of wine and cheese later in the day so well deserved. On Sundays some of the quays are completely closed off to cars, which attracts a lot of locals out for walks, runs and roller blading. The city has put a lot of effort into making more and more of the riverside pathways car-free, so expect to see more of this in the future.

Don’t want to plan your own route? There are running tour operators for that. Check out the following groups who can help you coordinate a complete running tour of Paris, no matter what your running level. Because these running tours are guided by experienced athletes, you’ll find the prices a little higher than regular bike or walking tours.

Paris Running Tour: Going with a group is better as it will lower your price, so grab some friends. 55-85€ per person. http://www.parisrunningtour.com/

Paris Running Tours: Tours starting at 50€. http://parisrunningtours.com/

Wellicient: Along with running tours, Wellicient also do walking, fitness and stretching tours. http://www.wellicient.com/

Roller Blading
Make all the fun you want, but rollerblading is one of this city’s favorite pastimes, and if you want a truly Parisian experience, you’ll don a set of inline skates. There’s a popular weekly nighttime roller blade excursion hosted by Pari-Roller that takes place every Friday from 10pm to 1am. It starts at Place Raoul Dutry in Montparnasse and takes a different route every week. This gives you the chance to see the city in not only a different medium of transportation, but at night as well.

On Sundays you can take part in a group ride organized by Rollers & Coquillages. Gather close to the Bastille on Boulevard Bourbon and then take off with the hundreds of other skaters to enjoy the city. This group ride is a little better suited to beginners.

Hotspots

Bois de Boulogne
On weekends, this park of over 2,000 acres is a hotspot for locals, as there are trails to run and walk on, boats to row and horses to ride. Bois de Boulogneis on the western edge of the 16th arrondissement, so you are almost outside of Paris proper, but still have easy access via the Metro: Porte Dauphine or Porte d’Auteuil.

Promenade Plantée
This is your dose of green space right in the middle of the city. The extensive greenbelt is built on an old railway line, and is a gorgeous space of trees, plants and plenty of benches to sit down and have a picnic. At almost three miles long it makes for a good jogging route, as long as you hit it at a time of day when there aren’t too many people. Access the Promenade Plantée from the Bastille Metro station.

Bois de Vincennes
Bois de Vincennesis the largest public park in the city, with a velodrome for bike races, a horse racing track and four lakes. Bike lanes, trails for running and even a Buddhist Temple, this is the place to come when you need a break from the city. The park is to the west of the 12th arrondissement and is easily accessed by Metro: Porte-Dorée or Château de Vincennes.

Where to Stay

Paris Hostel
With shared and private rooms, Paris Hostel is a good option for those that want a budget accommodation that’s well located. The rooms are small, but breakfast is included and you are perfectly situated for a morning run up to Montmartre. From 26€/night with shared facilities, 28€/night with private facilities. 39 Rue Rodier.www.paris-hostel.biz

Hotel Campanile Bastille
A popular French budget hotel chain, Hotel Campanile puts you close to the Bastille and the Marais all with an inner courtyard in the hotel, meaning you can start every morning off with your coffee outside. You’re also within walking distance of the Promenade Plantee. From 100€/night. 9 Rue de Chemin Vert, www.campanile.com

Hi-Matic Hostel
Branded as an eco-hotel, the Hi-Matic is a clean and budget-friendly space that also serves up a 100% organic breakfast that is included in the room price. For the environmentally conscious, they also employ an eco-friendly taxi service and use natural materials whenever possible. They’re also big on health: a card with yoga poses is left in every room. From 109€/night. 71 Rue de Charonne. www.hi-matic.net

Logistics

Get Around
Paris is easy to navigate with public transportation. This easiest option is the Metro – but there are plenty of bus routes as well. You can buy a batch (carnet) of 10 one-way tickets for 13.30€ in machines in every metro station, which will get you a ride on both the Metro and buses. If you want to get yourself around, consider taking advantage of the Vélib bikeshare system. A one-day Vélib ticket runs 1.70€ or you can get a week pass for 8€ – the easiest wy to get a ticket is to buy one online and print out your subscription number that you then type in when you want to use a bike. You get the first 30 minutes of Vélib use for free, which makes the system ideal for doing short trips around the city; pick up a bike in one spot and drop it off in another.

Seasonality
For those looking to spend most of their time outdoors in Paris, late spring, summer and early fall are your best bets. Paris can get very cold in the winter, which puts a damper on your outdoor experiences. A popular city, there are always visitors in Paris, but if you’re looking to avoid crowds, try for spring or fall so you can avoid the summer tourists.

Safety
Much like any big metropolis, it’s important to always be vigilant in Paris, especially in crowded tourist areas and the Metro. That being said, Paris is a safe city, so just bring along a little street sense and you’ll be in good shape.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user TerryPresley]

Video: Man Vs. Metro

Ever been on a subway train so slow you thought you could walk there faster? A man in Paris decided to see if he could run from one metro station to the next, catching the same train he just got off. With a camera strapped to his head and friends documenting his race from the street and the train, the anonymous Frenchman tries to run between the Cluny-La Sorbonne and Odéon stations. The stations are close together, but he has to navigate a busy street crossing, stairs, and the turnstile when he re-enters the metro, plus, you know, outrun a train. Watch the split-screen video to see if he catches the next train.

Falkland Islands To Host World’s Most Southerly Marathon

The Falkland Islands Marathon is March 17, 2013The New Year may still be more than six weeks off, but it is never too early to start working on those resolutions. If one of your perennial vows is to get into better shape and exercise more often, then I have some incentive for you. On March 17, 2013, the Falkland Islands will play host to the Standard Chartered Bank-Stanley Marathon, which happens to be the southernmost marathon in the world that is officially sanctioned by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.

The race is a standard 26.2-mile marathon, but its undulating course makes it a tough challenge for even the best runners. Each year only about 50 athletes manage to complete the full route, which begins in the Falkland’s historic capital of Stanley and then wanders out into the beautiful and breathtaking countryside. Along the way, runners are likely to encounter abundant wildlife, including penguins, seagulls, reindeer and possibly even an orca pod that is passing by just off shore.

Even if you’re not already a seasoned runner there is plenty of time to get ready for the Stanley Marathon. March is still a long ways off and if you have the right training schedule, and maintain a strict regimen, you can be prepared to compete in the race. Of course, the sooner you get started on that training, the better off you’ll be.

While you’re focused on all of that running, you may not have time to think about your travel options. Thankfully, adventure travel company Adventure Life has a Falkland Islands Marathon package that takes all of the worry and hassle out of that portion of your preparation. Let them take care of the details of getting you to and from the Falklands, while you simply worry about getting fit for the run.

If you love to travel and are already a runner, or have just always wanted to compete in a marathon, this is an excellent opportunity to combine those passions into one big adventure.

[Photo credit: Adventure Life]

Adventurer Prepares For Global Triathlon

Dan Martin prepares for his Global TriathlonBritish adventurer Dan Martin is about to embark on an epic challenge that he calls the Global Triathlon. The journey, which is set to get underway from New York City any day now, will see Dan circling the globe completely under his own power, and just like any other triathlon he’ll be swimming, cycling and running the various legs. In this case, those legs just happen to be substantially longer.

All triathlons, regardless of length, always start with a swim and Dan’s is no different. In this case, however, that swim involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean. He’ll first enter the water in the Hudson River and start heading east, continuing to do so until he makes landfall in France. Along the way, Dan will be escorted by a support boat, which is where he’ll sleep, eat and rest while en route. At the end of each day, he’ll crawl on to the boat, replace as many burned calories as he can and try to regain his strength for the next day, when he’ll return to the water and continue on.

To date, only one other person has managed to swim across the Atlantic. Back in 1998, French long distance swimmer Benoit Lecomte managed to accomplish that feat in just over 73 days. Lecomte’s efforts are contested by some, however, because he didn’t use a GPS to strictly track his progress. Dan hopes to allow others to follow his progress via his website, keeping the world updated on his position at all times.Once he does arrive in France the cycling stage of the journey will begin. Dan will climb aboard his bike and start peddling across Europe and Asia – in the dead of winter no less. If everything goes as planned he’ll eventually end the bike ride in the city of Anadyr, located in Russia’s far east. From there he’ll hop across the Bering Sea and start the finale leg of the Global Triathlon, running from Uelen, Alaska, back to New York City. When he’s done, Martin expects to have covered roughly 18,640 miles.

Dan actually thought that he would be underway by now, but a few logistical hiccups have prevented him from getting started on time. Nonetheless, he and his support crew are currently in NYC and they hope to have everything ironed out soon. You can follow his progress and updates both on his Facebook page and through his Twitter feed.

Good luck Dan!

[Photo courtesy Dan Martin]


Austin Marathon: why run a marathon?

The Austin Marathon from The Daily Texan on Vimeo.

The Austin Marathon took over the streets of Austin, Texas this past weekend. Established in 1992, the Austin Marathon began just a few blocks north of the Texas State Capitol. The marathon’s course took runners through several other Austin landmarks, as well. The Colorado River, the downtown area, Hyde Park, UT, and Memorial Stadium were all attractions to be seen during the 2012 race. Kenya‘s Edward Kiptum was this year’s winner. From Kenya to Austin, Texas, Kiptum, who trains in Mexico, came a long way to win a race. But what drives marathon runners to run, let alone run around the world?

%Gallery-148165%What makes a person want to run, for the sake of running? Having been in and out of love affairs with running for years now, I feel as though I might know at least a few common answers to this question. But I’m not a marathon runner. I deeply respect marathon runners and on some level, I casually aspire to be one, but I know casual aspirations won’t help to get me through a marathon, or even marathon training. Cities across the globe host marathons each year and devoted runners traverse the world to participate in these scattered races. A long run will, no doubt, expose a runner to the landscape of respective host cities. I see the appeal in that, in fact, this is one of the reasons why I’m tempted to think seriously about training for a marathon. Getting to know a location on foot is intimate; it’s a foundation for long-lasting travel memories. But as for what drives people from every background to suck it up and run 26.2 miles as quickly and efficiently as he or she can–it varies.

George Mallory, an explorer who died climbing Mount Everest, once cited his motivation for climbing with a simple response: “Because it’s there”. Perhaps a response like this is what it boils down to for many runners. A marathon is a challenge and finishing a marathon is an accomplishment that commands respect. To do it just to do it seems reason enough to me, for those who feel a pull toward marathon running.

The drive to push the body beyond perceived limits is not only a reason to run in and of itself, but the endorphin high experienced by any person pushing their body’s limits lasts well beyond the pushing. Whether a person is climbing Mount Everest, running a marathon, or even perfecting fast-moving guitar scales with their left hand, we receive an innate gratification when we reap the rewards of hard, physical labor. Runners, in particular, experience ‘Runner’s High‘.

In the case of marathon running, pushing limits or rewarding surges of endorphins are only the beginning when discussing motive. Although often disputed because of the wear and tear experienced by some marathon runners, long distance running, when practiced properly, can yield remarkable health benefits. Runners regularly confess to physical, mental, and emotional improvements at the hand of their running. Running can be used to lose weight, fight depression, stabilize moods, and even gain a more confident self-perception, among other things. Aside from all of this, long distance running is an engaging hobby, devotional lifestyle, and, if a runner is really into it, a great excuse to travel the world.

Have you ever run a marathon? Do you run regularly? Have you ever traveled to run in a race? Tell us about your running and related travel experiences in the comment section below.

2009 Country Music Marathon Highlights