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101 things to do in Paris: outdoors

Find the best of Paris with our ultimate list of things to do in the capital

Feeling adventurous in Paris? Scroll through the list below for the very best outdoor diversions the capital has to offer.

Think we've missed any great days out in Paris? Let us know and leave a comment in the box below.

The best things to do outdoors in Paris

Get away from it all at the Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins

The spectacular, ten-acre jardin alone makes a visit to the Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins in Boulogne-Billancourt worthwhile: Each section is modelled on a garden from around the world – rocky Vosgienne forest, Japanese village gardens, contemporary Japanese gardens and English and French gardens – and makes for a wonderful, lazy afternoon away from the hubbub of central Paris.  If you get the right day, you can even partake in a Japanese tea ceremony, led by a tea master from Kyoto’s Urasenke school.

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Visitors' areas

Pick your own at Les Vergers de Champlain

The Île de France has a surprising number of farms where you can pick your own rustic delights, including the Vergers de Champlain farm in La Queue-en-Brie (23km south-east of Paris), which rotates over 40 different types of fruit and vegetables according to the season. Carry your cutters for fresh apples and pears, flaunt your trowel in the lettuces and potato sections, and grab some gherkins for pickling when you get home.

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Run along La Coulée Verte

In 1969, the steam engines on Avenue Daumesnil’s viaduct whistled their last and the train-line between Bastille and Vincennes closed forever. The viaduct was converted into glass-fronted workshops and boutiques for local artisans and the old lines became a 5km long trail (also known as the Promenade Plantée), made up of elevated gardens, the Jardin de Reuilly and tree-lined cycling paths. Start at the Bastille end and climb up one of the staircases on avenue Daumesnil to the elevated gardens to get a new perspective of the city.

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12th arrondissement

Picnic in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

There are plenty of handsomely ordered opportunities to indulge in a bit of park life in Paris, from the pathways of the Jardin des Tuileries to the ponds of the Jardin du Luxembourg. But if you're looking for something a little less formal, one patch of greenery definitely worth a stroll is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Set high up in Belleville and often missed by weekenders keen not to stray too far from the tourist loop, this 19th arrondissement gem is one of the city's most magical spots.

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North-east Paris

Zoom on a Friday night skate with Pari-Roller

Friday nights in Paris don’t have to be about sinking your liver in red wine and steak-frites, and inhaling ciggie smoke on some café terrace. You could be healthy and join hundreds of rollerblade fanatics on a three hour ride around Paris ny night. Pari-Roller is open to all, as long as you’ve got the stamina for three hours, know how to break and change direction. Just arrive with your blades at 10pm in front of the Tour Montparnasse, and the city – or at least a 27km-long trail of it – is all yours for the evening.

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14th arrondissement

Explore the Jardin du Luxembourg

This 25-hectare park is a stylish retreat from the buzz of the Left Bank, a literary pilgrimage for Hemingway fans (the park features regularly in 'A Moveable Feast'), and a prized family attraction. Kids come from across the city for its pony rides, ice-cream stands, puppet shows, pedal karts, sandpits, metal swingboats and merry-go-round (the attractions have entrance fees). Horticulturalists will enjoy the ambitious plantings (inclduing fruit and veg) and the lively resident beehives.

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St Germain des Prés

Play boules along the Canal de l'Ourcq

The 19th-century Canal de l’Ourcq was originally created by Napoleon to provide Paris with drinking water, but was largely used for freight haulage before its edges were bestowed with some of the worst 60s and 70s housing in Paris. Nowadays, like the Canal-St-Martin further downstream, the Canal de l’Ourcq draws a trendy crowd, from students to 30-somethings with young families, who come to play boules on the sandy stretches, picnic on the water’s edge, and even play ping-pong in the playground areas.

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19th arrondissement

Cycle the city on a Vélib

In 2007, the mayor launched a municipal bike hire scheme – Vélib. There are now over 20,000 bicycles available 24 hours a day, at nearly 1,500 ‘bornes’ across the city. They feel sturdy, have a handy basket for transporting your groceries, and best of all, are available every 300 metres, so even if a stand is empty, you should find a bike at the next one. The Vélib scheme is complemented by the 400km (250 miles) of bike lanes snaking their way around Paris.

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Discover the Parc Montsouris

The most colourful of the capital's many parks, Montsouris was laid out for Baron Haussmann by Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand. It includes a series of sweeping, gently sloping lawns, an artificial lake and cascades. On the opening day in 1878 the lake inexplicably emptied, and the engineer responsible committed suicide.

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Montparnasse and south Paris

Wander through the Jardin des Plantes

The Paris botanical garden - which contains more than 10,000 species and includes tropical greenhouses and rose, winter and Alpine gardens - is an enchanting place. Begun by Louis XIII's doctor as the royal medicinal plant garden in 1626, it opened to the public in 1640. The formal garden, which runs between two dead-straight avenues of trees parallel to rue Buffon, is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. There's also the Ménagerie (a small zoo) and the terrific Grande Galerie de l'Evolution. Ancient trees on view include a false acacia planted in 1636 and a cedar from 1734. A plaque on the old laboratory declares that this is where Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in 1896.

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5th arrondissement
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