If you enjoy the challenge of climbing, you’ll be in seventh heaven in Paris. There are some excellent climbing spots in several parts of the city and its suburbs.
No need to travel to an actual mountain if you’re keen on traditional climbing using ropes: you can tackle a cliff without leaving the city. Practice your technique all year round on climbing walls, including many outdoor rock faces. These include the 18.5-metre-high wall at the Espace Beaujon, the wall at the Gymnase Alice-Milliat and the outside wall of the Poissonniers sports centre.
Note that some walls are not free to use: you must be a member of a climbing association. It is best to check before going.
If you want to play at being Spiderman without any constraints, then rope-free bouldering is for you. Accessible to all, this climbing activity, a fun and friendly pursuit, is fast gaining in popularity. Its biggest advantage is that it can be enjoyed without ropes, on low rocky walls (no more than 5 metres high) made up of boulders. Mats are provided in case of a fall, so you can climb in all safety.
The City of Paris has set up Paris Escalade, an online service you can use to book independent or guided climbing sessions at the Centre sportif Beaujon and the Centre sportif Jules-Ladoumègue.
In Paris all sports are possible, even diving! Lessons are of course, not in the Seine but in deep swimming pools especially adapted for the sport. You can dive for the first time by booking on the What's up Paname platform or perfect your skills, freely or accompanied by a qualified and skilled instructor. And you will have no trouble getting hold of the equipment as all schools hire out diving gear.
The Paris region has excellent diving facilities. Take a plunge into the deep blue a stone’s throw from Paris, at the 15-metre pit at the Palais des sports Telemaco-Gouin in Charenton-le-Pont (94). There are pits in several towns in Ile-de-France, including Conflans-Saint-Honorine (78), Lagny-sur-Marne (77) and Boussy-Saint-Antoine (91). The Aqua92 diving centre in Villeneuve-la-Garenne (92) boasts the deepest pit in France (the second-deepest in Europe). Get set for a dizzying descent!
The golf courses in the Paris region provide an opportunity for keen golfers to enjoy their favourite leisure activity in some exceptional settings. Meet on the tee for business or pleasure, and spend an enjoyable day honing your putting.
More info about Golf in Paris
In wintertime, the outdoor ice rinks in Parisian squares are as popular as ever (in front of the Hôtel-de-Ville), on the square in front of Montparnasse train station, and there is also ice skating all year round at the AccorHotels Arena rink renovated or Espace sportif Pailleron.
Paris has proper hiking trails for keen walkers. It is possible to go on a real hike through the city. There are two 20-km waymarked GR (grande randonnée) trails that enable visitors to combine a sporting activity with a sightseeing tour of major Parisian sites. They run respectively from the Bois de Boulogne in the west, to the Bois de Vincennes in the east, and from north to south from the Porte de la Villette to the Parc Montsouris.
Rugby is gaining ground in Paris. Following the renovation of the Stade Jean-Bouin, the home ground of the Stade Français rugby union club, the Arena 92 will open in the course of 2017. If you want to play a game, go to the website www.idfrugby.fr to find a club near you.
Alternatively, you can join one of the many rugby business or leisure clubs in Paris and the Paris area. These include the XV du Lion, the XV de la crampe and the Rugby Club des Alentours du Panthéon (RCAP). A listing of amateur rugby clubs is available on www.rugby-amateur.com.
There are several grounds in Paris, generally located at the city’s gateways. While the legendary Pershing stadium does not host amateur matches, Paris has no shortage of grounds where enthusiasts can practice passes and tackles. Amateur rugby players can head to the plaine de jeux Polygone in the Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris or the plaine de jeux de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, at the western end of the city.
The Suzanne-Lenglen sports centre in the 15th has floodlights for evening games. In southern Paris, the Stade Georges-Carpentier has a beautiful natural grass pitch, right in the middle of Paris’s Chinatown. And at the Stade Max-Rousié in the 17th, the artificial turf has recently been entirely renovated. Need a bigger ground? Travel to the suburbs, and one of the two rugby pitches at the Parc interdépartemental de sports Paris Val de Marne in Créteil.
There’s also a gentler form of the game: touch rugby. There are no scrums in this 5-a-side variant, and tackling is not allowed. It’s a fun way to stay fit and injury-free while learning to play. You can enjoy a game at the mini rugby pitch at the Stade Suzanne Lenglen, home to several clubs and associations.
More information on the website of the French Rugby Federation: www.ffr.fr
There are many riding schools in Paris and the Paris area catering to all levels of rider, from beginner to advanced riders. Equivil in the Parc de la Villette offers lessons, workshops and trail rides in the heart of the capital. The Centre équestre Bayard UCPA in the Bois de Vincennes has a team of more than 80 horses and 60 ponies. The facilities at this club include four outdoor arenas and three indoor manèges.
Seasoned riders should head to the Centre Hippique du Touring Club de France in the Bois de Boulogne: it is the ideal place to fine-tune your equestrian skills and gear up for competition riding. A short distance from here, the Société d'Équitation de Paris (SEP) is one of France’s biggest equestrian clubs. For young riders, the equestrian centre at the Jardin d’acclimatation organizes lessons and workshops for children from the age of 4 years.
The Haras de Jardy in Marnes-la-Coquette (92) is a must-see. With some 3,000 riders and 200 horses, it is the biggest equestrian centre in France.