When I travel, I try to pack at least one pair of workout clothes so that I can head out for a jog or quick circuit. As soon as I get to a new city or town, I'm beyond ready to stretch my legs and do a bit of exploring. The problem is, it's annoying to lose momentum when you have to google the best parks and green spaces. I'm all for a little aimless exploring, but ultimately I'd like to end up in a spot meant for working out. No thank you, old French cobbley roads and hordes of tourists. The spots in Lille and Paris are my recommendations, and the other 10 suggestions come from fellow Language Assistants living all over France. So, if you're traveling to France and like to stay active, I hope this list can be useful to you in your planning! Bon courage!
Annecy: Lake Annecy and the surrounding areas
A fairly obvious one, it would be crazy to miss the clear, spring-fed lake that is surrounded by walking paths.
*Credit: Maggie Gauthier
Aix-en-Provence: Lauves Hill
This hill goes past Cezanne’s studio and if you make it to the top, you can take in the view from where he used to paint.
*Credit: Alexandra Adler Martin
Avignon: Île de la Barthelasse
This huge park is on an island between two parts of the Rhone River. It has spectacular views, and is great for running and biking.
* Credit: Orlagh Scullion
Bordeaux: From Pont de Pierre to Pont Chaban
For this 7k run, start at the Pont de Pierre and continue along the quai to Pont Chaban Dalmas. Cross the bridge, and go continue along the other bank back to Pont de Pierre.
*Credit: Sarah Thompson
Lille: Parc de la Citadelle
There is a wonderful jog loop that goes around the historic Citadelle. You can follow the outer edge next to the Deûle river, or go to the inner part of the trail and run on a woodsy path. On the outer edge you’ll see more cute pups, a pull-up bar, and a few bridges that let you cross over and make a nice 5k or 8k loop. The inner portion is a bit more winding and is well suited for a walk. It’s pretty historically interesting as well; it was designed for by Vauban in 1668 after Louis XIV took Lille from Spain. An aerial view of the park reveals the pretty five-pointed star design, to represent the Sun King aka Louis XIV.
Limoges: Vienne River
There is a 5k loop of bridges that takes you right along the Vienne River, with plenty of space for walkers and runners.
*Credit: Emily Banana
Lyon: Parc de la Tête d’Or
This huge park features running/biking paths, botanical gardens, a zoo, and rose gardens as well. Another great spot is right along the Saône river that takes you through Vieux Lyon.
*Credit: Brynne Cross and Jordan Gilmour
Nancy: Parc de la Pépinière and Parc Saint-Marie
*Credit: Grace Guthrie
Who doesn't want to run right next to the Mediterranean Sea?
*Credit: Serena Schaeber
Paris: Parc des Buttes Chaumont
This is a super unique park in the 19th Arrondissement in Paris. It’s huge, doesn’t get insanely crowded, and has a small lake, caves, stalactites, waterfalls, a suspension bridge, tons of walking trails, and a monument at the top with an incredible view of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. Runners be warned, the hills are pretty big in this park. To me, that’s kind of a refreshing thing to find, because Lille so flat. On the north side of the park, you’ll find an open workout space where people do circuits and stretch. An added plus: it has a tons of benches, and even a few water fountains.
Reims: Along the Canal de l'Aisne à la Marne
This canal path has great sights and shady trees in both directions. Northbound, you’ll find peace and quiet, people fishing, and small community “leave a book, take a book” libraries. Southbound, you go right through the center of town into the Champagne district.
*Credit: Alexandra Adler Martin
Strasbourg: The Quai des Bateliers and Parc de l’Orangerie
This is a nice run that leads you to the Orangerie, a huge park with running paths and great greenery, and a small bird zoo.
*Credit: Nicol Kirsch