Length 9.8 km (6.1 miles), terrain: flat
Paris Running Routes:
Best Paris Running Routes: Overview
Seine island of St. Louis, St. Paul, botanical garden
Left bank and Luxembourg Gardens
Paris' green heart: Bois de Boulogne
Canal St. Martin
Rock formations of Parc Chaumont
Seine loop with Champs Elysees and Eiffel Tower
Seine riverside run
Bois de Vincennes
Versailles Palace Gardens
For more running routes, see Route List
NOTE: Back in Paris in March 2014, I re-ran the route to check if it was just open in the summer. There was good- and bad-news: the good news is that the section between Pont de l'Alma and the Musée d'Orsay has remained open! The bad news is that the stretch on the Right Bank between the Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully is not: it is only free of cars in the summer. But plans are afoot to change that!
Time to celebrate! Another big section of the Seine has been closed to car traffic and opened to pedestrians, bikes and -- of course -- runners. Meet the Berges de Seine, a wonderful project to give the riverside back to the people.
|Runner along Les Berges de Seine|
If you've ever walked down the cobble-stoned tow-paths along the Seine near the Ile de la Cité, around Notre Dame, you know how beautiful the waterside is, down below the bustle of the city above. But, until now, most of the waterside quays were blocked by busy streets and railroads. Now, it's one of the nicest runs you can do in Paris.
I was lucky enough to run this route during the Paris-Plages festival during the summer of 2013, with a variety of riverside exhibits and activities lining the river. Every summer, the city adds temporary seating areas, sports facilities, wall-climbing, beach bars, art displays, cooling mist fountains, and gaming areas for the festival. I was able to discover the Seine as a pedestrian Eden.
Paris-Plages turns parts of the waterfront into riverside beaches with beach-bars and riverside cafés from late July till late August.
|View of route from Pont de l'Alma: head out along the right side, return on the left|
Seine Riverside Route
At the starting spot, standing on the Pont de l'Alma, take a look at the Eiffel Tower rising above the river to the right. What a great place to start a run! Now cross the bridge to the south side of the river.
At the left bank, turn left to run eastwards, along the Quai Branly embankment, where you take the path down to the waterside. This is the new Les Berges pedestrian riverbank, and you'll find floating gardens and lots of extra benches for the leisure -- non-running -- public. This spot looks like Paris' waterborne answer to New York's High Line Park.
|Floating gardens along Quai Branly|
|Seine-side picnics at Pont Alexandre III|
|Les Berges beach bar|
After the museum, the quay ends by sloping up to the higher street level, and you will have to run up along the busy street for a block, until you see the first chance to get back down to the water level, after the next bridge.
NOTE: The pavement along the path next to the water on this section is pretty rough, and there are various places with missing cobblestones: WATCH OUT!
|Exhibit out front of Musée d'Orsay|
|Pont des Arts love locks, with route along water on lower right side|
After Notre Dame, keep running for a half-kilometer until you come to the third bridge, the Pont de Sully.
Just before the bridge, at the 4.5-km mark, take the stone steps from the riverside up to the street-level above. This bridge crosses the eastern point of the Ile Saint-Louis.
Cross the Pont de Sully, run by the little triangular park and then cross the second part of the bridge to the right bank. This is the old Marais neighborhood.
|Return route along right bank, across from Ile Saint-Louis, looking back to Pont de Sully|
NOTE: This is the stretch that is only car-free in the summer. Any other time of year, you'll have to run on the higher street level above the freeway, until after Pont Neuf, where you can head down to the cobblestoned quay down by the water again.
|Cooling mist at Paris-Plages: it felt great!|
At the Pont de la Concorde, you'll see the French National Assembly building across the street, and the river makes a bend to the left.
|Thirsty street-musicians on Pont des Arts, with Louvre and return route in background|
Now you just have to run under one more bridge and then you will be back at the Pont de l'Alma. During this last stretch, you'll pass the quays where all the big tour boats dock-up.