Running while traveling generally involves a missed train, a connecting flight or a whole lot of angry bulls charging through the streets of Spain. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Signing up for a race while traveling can add a new dimension to your trip and offer a unique way to explore a new place. It’s also a great way to meet locals and see parts of a city or village that you never would have stumbled across otherwise.
France, with its glamorous cities, culinary delights and stunning natural landscape, offers a plethora of opportunities to combine sport and travel. If you’re looking to see a new side of the city of lights and meet some of its grungier locals, sign up for a marathon in Paris. If you’re hoping to explore the French Alps, sign up for a mountain marathon and prepare for hours of quiet solitude as you run from village to village.
Need additional reasons to sign up for a marathon in France?
Explore without getting lost
French cities are not always easy to negotiate and Paris in particular is the perfect place to get hopelessly lost. Running a marathon is a great chance to see the city without having to worry about losing your way. And frankly, it’s the only time you’ll have locals standing on corners pointing you in the right direction.
Eat as much as you want
You can indulge in all of the French culinary delights without feeling too guilty. Bring on the Camembert, the pastries and the butter. You just ran a marathon. Knock yourself out and order a third crème caramel.
What better way to remember your trip to France by then with the souvenir t-shirt awarded to race participants? Whether you run the Lyon or the Paris marathon, your new t-shirt is a great conversation starter and definitely a point of pride. You earned it.
Enjoy the Scenery
There is no way around it. France is an exceptionally beautiful country with stunning architecture and incredible natural scenery. Whether you decide to run in Paris, Bordeaux, the French Alps or along the southern coast, you won’t be disappointed.
Mingle with the Locals
Running alongside someone for 42 kilometers is a great way to get to know them. Practice your French and make some new friends while pushing yourself to the finish line.
Now that you’re ready to take on a marathon in France, here are some suggestions on where to start.
It would be impossible to include a list of marathons in France and not mention Paris. Though there are numerous marathons scattered throughout France, this is the classic. Starting at the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the marathon course winds its way through the city of lights, passing Notre Dame, the Bastille and the Eiffel Tower before finishing at Porte Dauphine 42 kilometers later. Attracting thousands of runners worldwide, be prepared for throngs of people, lots of elbowing and a huge after-party.
Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, is a great place to combine running and fabulous food. Though Lyon often falls under the radar, it’s an exceptionally beautiful city with some of the world’s best food and not a place that should be missed while touring France. Held in October, the Lyon marathon draws a large enough crowd to make participating in it a thrilling experience and one that offers a pleasant view of the rivers and parks that dominate the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region.
Called a “trail” in French, there are quite a few of them scattered throughout the Rhône-Alpes region. Most of them are relatively small affairs that give runners the opportunity to become better acquainted with the mountains, each other and the small villages nestled in the heart of the French Alps. Make no mistake, running 42 kilometers through the rugged and mountainous terrain is no joy ride, but you’ll see a side of France that most tourists miss out on. The Trail du Tétras-Lyre marathon is a good option for experienced mountain runners. If you’re new to the sport, try signing up for the half-marathon in Pays de Corps.
Marathon du Médoc
Leave it to the French to combine running and wine tasting. That sort of genius could only come from the Bordeaux region, home to some of the world’s greatest vineyards. Starting in the town of Pauillac in the Médoc area, this marathon course winds through the region’s spectacular vineyards where more than 30 chateaux open their gates to the runners and foodies who spend 42 kilometers sampling wine, cheese and escargot as they race (or stumble) toward the finish. This is a race you won’t soon forget.
Marseille-Cassis Classique Internationale
If you’re not quite up for a marathon, consider this classic half-marathon along France’s southern coast. Starting in Marseille, the course follows a beautiful road along the coastline as it climbs up to the Col de Gineste and down to the ancient port of Cassis. The road is completely closed to traffic for the race and crowds line the route to cheer the runners on. Held at the end of October, this race is a good chance to get in some sun and beach time before the winter weather kicks in.
Be forewarned, in order to register for a race in France, you’ll need a note from your doctor saying you’re in good health. Many races often require proof of health insurance as well so make sure you double check the race requirements. They will ask for these items before you receive your number and if you don’t have them, you won’t be allowed to race. No exceptions.