Although you’ll be travelling to Paris for the marathon, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France’s picturesque capital. Here’s a quick run down on travelling to and around Paris, where you can stay and what you can do while you’re not racing.
There are a variety of options when travelling to Paris from the UK. In terms of air travel, Paris has three nearby airports, the most popular of which is Charles de Gaulle in the north east of the city. You should have no problem finding somewhere to fly from, with the majority of major UK airports offering flights to Paris, including Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh. Flights will be in high demand leading up to the marathon, so do your best to book ahead of time.
For those of you who don’t want to fly, you’ll be happy to hear that Paris is easily reached by car. The drive from the UK to Paris through the Channel Tunnel takes around eight hours, but be aware you will have to pay a fare to get through and come back. You can also catch a ferry from Dover to Calais, where you can head south on the three hour drive to Paris.
Finally, you might want to consider travelling by train. Catch the Eurostar from St Pancreas station in London and you’ll be at Gare du Nord in just over two hours. Unlike travelling by plane this will leave you right in the centre of the city: just a short distance away from the race start and more likely than not, a quick Métro ride away from your accommodation.
Getting around Paris couldn’t be easier. The public transport on offer is both efficient and affordable, none more so than the Métro. The capital’s underground system offers services all over the city and you can work out which train to take by using the coloured maps on offer; much like the London Underground. If you’re going to be using the Métro a lot, you can purchase daily, weekly, or even monthly passes to save time and money.
Want to be taken from A to B and see some of the city at the same time? If the confines of the Métro sound too stifling for your Paris experience, try taking a bus instead. Bus routes are helpfully displayed on each bus, including current location and stops left to travel to, so they should be simple enough for travellers who are unfamiliar with the city.
And of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without a leisurely stroll through the city. The layout of France’s capital means it’s usually manageable to walk between your destinations, especially when you have so much beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way. If things seem a bit too far to travel on foot, renting bikes is also a great option for seeing the city while you reach your destination.
Remember, it’s inevitable that the accommodation around Paris will be in extremely high demand before, during and after the marathon. As well as runners themselves, rooms will be snapped up by their friends and family, as well as the thousands of other spectators who want a piece of the action on race day. There’s no need to panic though – book well in advance and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Below is a quick overview of the accommodation on offer.
The race itself starts on the Champs-Élysées and this is where you’ll find some of the most luxurious hotels in Paris, with price tags to match. However, book well in advance and you might just score yourself a bargain. The famously picturesque Montmartre and Marais areas boast quaint and charming hotels, with some seriously reasonable prices if you seek out the best offers. Saint-Germain-des-Près has a great laidback atmosphere and some great hotels to match. For lower budget accommodation, head slightly further afield to the east of town to areas like Bastille, where you will find many decent hotels.
Because of Paris’ excellent public transport network, you should have no problem getting to the start line on race day if you plan accordingly, no matter where you end up staying.
For the best approach to this Paris icon, get off the Métro at École Militaire and walk the path from there through the park. Make sure you see it after sunset too, when the tower lights sparkle every hour. The best view of this is from the less well-known Montparnasse Tower, where you can watch the sun set and Paris light up.
The most famous and easily the most spectacular of the Parisian department stores, Galeries Lafayette boasts a stunning early-1900's stained glass cupola, as well as fantastic chandeliers and floors and floors of galleried balconies. The French know their fashion, so after you’ve bumped into a few fellow travellers gazing up at the ceiling, take a look around and feel like a true stylish Parisian.
Visit Sacré-Cœur, if not for the view of the city beyond, then for the fascinating walk that leads up to this iconic landmark. A trip here is all about the atmosphere of Montmartre and of course, the view. The walk from the metro takes you through narrow, winding streets with quaint shops and cafés to take your mind off of the climb ahead.
A masterpiece of French gothic architecture, you cannot miss this stunning building. If possible, take the boat, as the approach from the Seine is truly stunning. Visit early on in the day when it is much quieter, as the steps outside can get fairly busy and noisy during the day, spoiling the serenity of the inside.
Not to be missed on a peaceful Sunday afternoon in summer, the pretty English-style Rose Gardens and shady trees offer the perfect home for some of Rodin’s finest pieces of art, including his most famous 'The Thinker'. Visit the magnificent eighteenth century house, once home to Rodin, for more of his work and some great views over the garden.