The best urban sports in Paris

Make the streets your playground with these urban workouts
© Eric Dabrowski
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In partnership with France.fr and Paris je t'aime.

Get out of your stuffy gym and take to the streets for a shake-up of your sporting routine. Most of these urban sports won't cost you a penny and take place all year round, so there's really no excuses. It's goodbye step machine, hello sidewalk.   

Urban golf

Once a game left to the dads, urban golf has revolutionised its image and can be seen taking place all over the city. And the joy of it? No golf course needed; just bring your clubs and balls, get inventive and leave your swing hang-ups at home. Be sensible, choose a spot with very few passers-by and make sure to use street golf-specialist balls (they’re lighter, for obvious reasons).

Where can I do it? The Louvre, the banks of Seine, Trocadéro or la Défense. Check out the Paris Street Golf Facebook page and Le Dix Neuvieme Trou for organised meet-ups and events.

© Dave Gingrich

Slacklining

Fancy a bit of height? Try slacklining: the practise of walking across a strap hung between two streetlights (or trees). Born in the 70s in Yosemite National Park, the practise didn’t make it big until 2000, when urban tightrope walkers began spreading it all over the world. Canal de l’Ourcq is one of the most popular spots in Paris, especially with the Parislack aficionados, who offer intro sessions for beginners. Vertigo sufferers need not worry, the strap begins at 30cm above ground and the strap comes in various different widths. Not only is this great for your balance, muscle strength and concentration, but you’ll make like-minded friends too.

Where can I do it? The banks of the canal de l’Ourcq (on the Stalingrad and Jaurès side), Bois de Vincennes (near the Pagoda) and the Fontainbleau forest. 

Where do I sign up? Parislack or Slack2bleau.

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Pari Roller

Urban rollerblading

Friday night: most are out drinking away the week's stresses but from time to time, a flash of fluoro, a whizz of wheels and a bulk of bodies passes by, leaving gaggles of drinkers agape. This is Pari Roller, the legenderary guerilla urban rollerblading group who meet every Friday night for a three-hour ride around the city. No route is the same so expect to see Paris in a completely different light. Speed is not essential, but you can't join without being able to stop on your blades. Starlight Express, eat your heart out!

Where can I do it? Meet at Place Raoul Dautry (14th arrondissement) at 10pm every Friday, returning to Montparnasse at 1am.

How do I sign up? Pay a one-off fee of €25 their website and check their Facebook page for more details. 

Parkour

Parkour

The best way to get round an urban space quickly? Vélib? Think again. It’s parkour: the hardcore combo of jumping, climbing, crawling and running all over the city’s structures. But before you can become a proper free runner, you need to work on muscle (and mental) strength, so don’t expect to become an expert in just a few weeks. This is definitely one for people with buckets of endurance and determination. Paris is the perfect place to get up to speed though, with dedicated parkour areas near Bercy, La Villette and Austerlitz.

Where can I do it? Start with a lesson  Parkour Paris offer a few different types – then if you’re really into it, join a club.

Where do I sign up? Check out the fédération de Parkour and the associations across Ile-de-France.

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street fishing
© French Touch Fishing

Street fishing

Your reel and rods might be gathering dust in the closet between summer holidays, but there’s no reason to wait that long – welcome to street fishing. Bet you didn’t know that the Canal de l’Ourcq, Canal Saint-Martin and the Seine are swimming with track pike, black bass and other aquatic vertebrates. Made popular by French Touch Fishing (FTF), the noughties saw a real boom in urban fishing, due to its ethical nature – and ease. You could do it before work or even on your lunchbreak, as very little equipment or travelling is required. FTF practises the no kill rule: they use fish predators as decoys and they return everything they catch. High levels of mercury in the Seine’s fish means you couldn’t bring home your catch for Sunday lunch anyway.

Where can I do it? At FTF’s organised fishing sessions along canal Saint-Martin (opposite Hôtel du Nord), Wednesdays 12.30 midday-2pm. Don’t forget to bring your fishing license.

Where do I sign up? French Touch Fishing.

Street Workout
© Street Workout France

Street workouts

This urban, outdoor gymnastics session welcomes participant of all abilities  even those with reduced mobility. The discipline is based on the “anywhere, anytime” principle, so with a little imagination, a public bench, a lamppost, or a bike shed can be turned into muscle-building equipment. Using the weight and ryhthm of your body, you’ll get used to it with each session. But be warned, the post-workout day will be achey as hell.

Where can I do it? Squares, parks and outdoor gyms. Look out for the street workout experts around quai de Valmy and parc de la Villette, but don’t give it a go without checking out the appropriate sites or groups. There are plenty dotted around Paris so you won’t struggle to find a convenient one.

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