When the sun is shining, Paris smiles, too! Make the most of good weather with these outdoor activities in Paris.
Oh, how magnificent Paris is when the sun is out! The blue skies beckon and there’s a magnificent joie de vivre in the air. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to get outside with the other Parisians. From getting fit to exploring the city, there are so many activities to help you get to know Paris. So put on your walking shoes, head outside and get moving. Read on to find out about:
- Outdoor activities for exploring Paris
- Find green spaces in Paris
- Get sporty in Paris
- Hit the top outdoor markets in Paris
Outdoor activities for exploring Paris
Forget the bus, metro and taxis. There are other interesting ways to explore Paris at a leisurely pace. Take the time to experience the Parisian atmosphere and really see the sights.
Bikes in Paris
Renting a bicycle is as easy as one-two-three in any neighborhood, thanks to Paris Vélib. There’s no booking; just turn up with a credit card at any Vélib station and follow the on-screen instructions to select a bike. The first 30 minutes are free. Hop on and cycle through one of the scenic parks or along the banks of the Seine.
When you’re done, just return your bike at any Vélib station. Safety helmets are not mandatory in Paris it’s worth bringing your own, especially for the little ones. Don’t know where to go? Join a bike tour of Paris, Versailles, or Monet’s Garden in Giverny with Fat Tire Bike Tours.
Segway trips in Paris
If you’re looking for more speed for less physical exertion, zip through the French capital on a Segway with an experienced guide. Fat Tire Tours begins each tour with a very thorough orientation of the Segway. For safety reasons, small children are not permitted to join the tour, and adults must accompany older kids 12 to 17 years old. It’s got to be the coolest way to see Paris.
Hot air balloon rides
Exploring the city at street-level is always fun, but there are even better views to discover. Seeing the city from a higher vantage point is one of the most exciting outdoor activities you can do in Paris. Yes, you could climb the Eiffel Tower, but why not get a wider perspective?
Yep! You can soar high over Paris in a hot-air balloon. Le Ballon de Paris has a montgolfier waiting for you in the Park André Citroen. Blast off to a height of 150 meters for an eye-popping aerial view of the French capital. Don’t forget to check the weather first!
Train or tram trips in Paris
Hop onto le Petit Train to weave through the picturesque streets of the charming Montmartre, once home to the likes of Picasso and Modigliani. Or jump onto a funicular with a breathtaking view as it transports you up the hill to the foot of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. Then, buy a yummy crêpe and eat it on the steps outside, admiring the city skyline from a higher altitude. And don’t forget to have your caricature done by one of the many artists in the café-lined square at Place du Tertre.
Hop onto one of the many boats that cruise along the Seine from one end of central Paris to the other, and sit back to absorb the beauty of the City of Lights. The most well-known boat companies include the Bateaux Mouches, Bateaux Parisiens, and Vedettes de Paris, which offer commentary and dining options; and the Vedettes de Pont Neuf if you just want the tour.
For a no-frills ride, opt for the Batobus river shuttle. Keep your eyes open in the direction of the Eiffel Tower for a brilliant light show at the top of every hour every night. A sheer, dazzling site! No matter how long you’ve lived in Paris, a boat cruise never loses its awe factor.
Find green spaces in Paris
Paris has no shortage of green pockets of nature to enjoy a picnic, take a leisurely stroll or an energetic run, ride a pony, row a boat, or go cycling. Get to know some of the most gorgeous spots in the city.
Row, row, row
Hire a boat and row leisurely around one of the four lakes situated in the expansive Bois de Vincennes. You can find this former royal park and hunting domain in the east end of Paris. When you dock, there are lots of activities to keep you busy all day. From the medieval Château de Vincennes to the adjacent Parc Floral botanical garden (which has a large recreational area for kids and outdoor concerts in the summer) to horseback riding, and even a zoo.
Captain a ship
If rowing isn’t your thing, but you still want to enjoy the water, we have the answer. Why not captain your own ship? In two of Paris’ most beautiful gardens, the Jardin de Luxembourg or Jardin de Tuileries, you can rent a pretty model sailboat. Navigate it around the ponds and race against others.
Once you’re finished with the boats, why not take a stroll around the park? Le Jardin du Luxembourg is the perfect place for an afternoon walk, with its long promenades, flowerbeds and well-kept lawns. Meanwhile, in le Jardin des Tuileries, you can find statues, sculptures, and wide, majestic paths.
Enjoy a picnic
Buy a fresh baguette from a boulangerie, pack some cheese and charcuterie and head over to the magical Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Your meal will taste all the more delicious in the open air. This gem of a respite from the city features a temple, a man-made lake, and waterfall in natural, hilly surroundings. When night falls, head over to the Rosa Bonheur guinguette, an open-air dance hall, for a relaxed drink and dancing till midnight.
Get some exercise in the woods
Head to the second-largest woods of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne. Bordering Paris’s 16th arrondissement and neighboring Neuilly-sur-Seine, it’s a hub of outdoor activities, especially on weekends, when some roads are closed to cars. You’ll find several lakes, a waterfall, the Château de Bagatelle and its gardens, sports grounds, two horse racing courses, and expanses of grass where you can roll out your yoga mat.
After all that physical exertion, why not treat yourself to a Sunday brunch? Within the park grounds is the Chalet des Iles, which sits on a pretty little island accessible only by rowboat or ferry.
Enjoy fun for all the family
In the Bois de Boulogne, you’ll also find the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a fantastic family hangout. This quintessential French amusement park has fantasy carousels, a lake, a mini zoo, interactive playgrounds, ‘les guignols’ puppet theatre, pony/donkey/camel rides, giant trampolines, restaurants, and more. When it’s hot outside, sprinklers and misters around the park will cool you down. Its Maison des Ateliers offers a variety of workshops throughout the year for children and adults. Located just minutes from the Arc de Triomphe, it’s sure to become one of your family’s favorite Parisian destinations at any time of year.
Get sporty in Paris
Whack a golf ball
Why not discover one of the fantastic golf courses in Paris? Putt to your heart’s delight at the family-oriented multisport park, Haras de Jardy, just west of Paris. See if your child is the next Tiger Woods and sign them up for group lessons from the age of four up. You can rent kiddy clubs to try first. Teenagers who can hit a ball can play on the short-range, 9-hole course.
Fishing in the Seine
It may not have crossed your mind, but in recent years this has become kind of a ‘thing.’ Urban anglers can find perch, pike, and black bass in the river, along the canals, and in the lakes of the big woods of Boulogne and Vincennes. However, you’ll need to get a permit at Cartedepeche.fr. New to the sport? Take a workshop at La Maison de la Pêche et de la Nature.
Get your skates on
Another way to travel around the city is by rollerblades. Regular events and tours for rollerbladers take place in Paris, so it’s worth getting involved. Every Sunday, Rollers & Coquillages organize a leisurely mass street skate. The tour takes about three hours and begins at Place de la Bastille. It’s open to anyone, so get involved!
Even more intrepid is the late-night Pari Roller. Once a week, hundreds of rollerbladers take to the streets of Paris on a Friday evening for a magical, late-night rollerblade course around Paris. Sign up for free online with the Pari-Roller Association, then show up with your blades at 21:30 for a 22:00 start in front of Tour Montparnasse in the 14th. Anyone who can balance, brake, and move on blades can join. The 27-kilometer trail is not for the weak – the average finish time is 1am. If you subscribe to the association, you’ll even get insured in case of an accident.
Hit the top outdoor markets in Paris
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure
Garage sales are forbidden in Paris, but watch out for the community weekend braderie or vide-grenier (empty the attic) authorized by the local Mairie, or city hall. Take advantage of spring cleaning as families empty their closets and toy boxes to fill up street stands. Young entrepreneurs can make a buck putting up their old toys, books, and DVDs for sale. Check out this website for dates of these sales throughout Parisian neighborhoods and its surrounding suburbs.
Scavenge the largest flea market in Paris
At Marché aux Puces Saint Ouen, near Porte de Clignancourt, you can find a curated collection of everything from art to vintage clothing, antique toys, old buttons, and books to period furniture – and even full-sized antique staircases. Collectors and buyers converge here to treasure hunt along the small streets connecting the 15 markets of les Puces. It’s the largest of its kind in the world; take a look at the official map to find the articles you may be interested in before you go.
Paul Bert Serpette is a great place to start, as it’s considered the flagship market within the market. Then, grab lunch at Chez Louisette, an original guinguette in the heart of the market serving traditional French food. En plus, local singers backed by a live orchestra serenade you while you dine, with mythical songs of the legendary Edith Piaf.