Hiking in Paris might seem an odd thing to do but it is nevertheless a great way to (re)discover the beauty of the city, which has no less than 8 ‘Grandes Randonnées’ (in English, GR hiking paths), 50 kms of loops stretching from the ‘Périphérique’ ring road to the Boulevards des Maréchaux, as well as 75 green spaces. So, on your marks, get set, go!
Inaugurated in 2017 to support Paris’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this route may well prove to be as popular in the future as some of its famous predecessors (GR 20, etc.). The route includes a 100% loop of Paris over 50 kms between the Périphérique and the Boulevards des Maréchaux passing through 9 arrondissements and crossing 75 green spaces. The Bois de Vincennes, where the cricket matches were held during Paris’s first Olympic Games in 1900, the Tourelles water sports stadium (today Georges Vallerey swimming pool, in the 20th) which 24 years later saw Johnny Weissmuller become the first swimmer to complete a 100 m race in less than a minute (…): the GR 75 is a veritable walk through the city’s sporting history. It also reveals sites that will be in the global spotlight in 2024 such as Parc des Princes, Roland-Garros and the AccorHotels Arena. A great circuit for sports fans.
These routes are also all signposted and offer the opportunity to walk for hours and enjoy plenty of sights.
The first of the three is a 21 km way-marked route across Paris that links the Bois de Vincennes to the Bois de Boulogne, an ideal spot to finish the walk with a picnic by the big lake. On the way, walkers get the chance to cross the river Seine, wave at the Eiffel Tower, then pass by the École Militaire, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Montagne Saint Geneviève and the Panthéon. Awaiting them on the Rive Droite, the Ranelagh public garden, the house of Balzac, and the wine museum.
Traversée no.2 highlights the most emblematic ‘villages’ of Paris. After the Villette and Buttes Chaumont parks, walkers follow the canal St-Martin before turning into the narrow little streets of the Marais district. There is time for a photo stop in front of the Picasso and Carnavalet museums, then the walk continues via the islands of La Cité and Saint-Louis. With the bridges Au Double, Marie and Saint-Louis, this walk, through the heart of the French capital with Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral as a backdrop, has something magical about it. A little further to the south is the Latin Quarter and then the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Created after the extension of the city in 1960, it is synonymous with climbing (unless the walk is undertaken inversely, from South to North) towards Gobelins and the Buttes aux Cailles. Just a bit more effort is required before reaching the highest point (78m) and the Rive Gauche appears: welcome to Parc Montsouris … before the final stage opposite the Cité Universitaire.
Although solely on the Rive Droite, the traversée no.3 (from Porte Maillot to Porte Dorée) is nevertheless a must-do. History buffs should know that this is a tour of the capital before it was joined to certain municipalities. And once again, leg muscles will be put to the test on the way, past Place de l’Étoile, Montmartre, and the parks Buttes Chaumont and Belleville. Less high up, Batignolles public garden, Parc Monceau and the Charonne village are also on the route. The walk finishes in a leafy setting next to the Promenade Plantée.
Free and open to all, the ‘Panamées’ combine walking and discovery of Paris from original aspects, through themed itineraries. A monthly invitation to stroll through the streets of Paris, in the footsteps of Victor Hugo, discovering the architecture of Corbusier, or to the rhythm of songs paying tribute to the city. For more information on these urban outings organized by the ‘Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de Paris’, click here.
Fans of the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes also clock up several kilometres. In a little under 3 hours, it is possible to do a circuit around the former, leaving tarmac covered paths behind and following the course of a little stream and passing under a waterfall. Two loops are possible at Vincennes: the longest (11 kms) starts from the Castle and passes by the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale and Gravelle lake. More than 800 kms, the GR2 crosses Paris via two routes. The first, from Bois de Vincennes to Porte de Sèvres, and the second, from Pont d’Austerlitz to Parc André Citroën. In both cases, the experience is delightful, and views of Paris unfold along the waterside.