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Best Spots to Practice Trail Running Near Paris

Best Spots to Practice Trail Running Near Paris


Trail running is all about leaving the asphalt behind and getting in touch with Mother Nature. But isn’t that impossible if you live in a big city like Paris? Of course not! And we’re going to prove it to you by showing you 10 trail running areas for runners of different levels that you can access within an hour using public transport. We even provide a route in each area that’s been tested and approved by our team so look for the .gpx files to download.


To begin, we recommend three trail running spots in the middle of Paris that don’t have much elevation gain/descent, require a big commitment, or necessitate total self-sufficiency. They’re perfect as an easy transition from road to trail and a good start to running on uneven terrain. They’re also great places to get some fresh air if you don’t have time for a long workout and happen to be close by.

Bois de Vincennes
  • Location: east Paris, 12e arrondissement
  • Access: metro Line 1 to Château de Vincennes
  • Terrain: mellow trails, wooded, sometimes muddy
  • Points of interest: Château de Vincennes, Parc Floral de Paris, the Hippodrome, the Arboretum, Lac de Gravelle, Butte Aux Canons

Covering 995 hectares (2,459 acres), Bois de Vincennes is the largest park in Paris. Located on the east side of Paris at the edge of the 12th arrondissement, it is easily accessible by metro Line 1. The Bois de Vincennes is always open and is full of natural and historic sights. This is a Paris classic without technical difficulties that’s well worth a few trips.

Bois de Boulogne
  • Location: west Paris, 16e arrondissement
  • Access: metro Line 10 to Porte d'Auteuil, or Line 2 to Porte Dauphine
  • Terrain: easy trails, wooded
  • Points of interest: Caverne de la Cascade, Roseraie de Bagatelle, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Lac Supérieur

Another great spot for trail running is the second largest park in Paris, Bois de Boulogne, where runners have the option to circle the lake entirely on unpaved paths or follow trails through the forest. The itinerary that we suggest in this article, the Tour de Bois de Boulogne, is a 10km run with no technical difficulties. It’s a brilliant way to get outside for an hour and fill your lungs with fresh air.

Parc de Saint Cloud
  • Location: Saint-Cloud (west of Paris)
  • Access: metro Line 9 to Pont de Sèvres, or tram T2 to Musée de Sèvres
  • Terrain: slightly technical trails with the possibility of elevation gain/descent
  • Points of interest: Rond de la Balustrade, Parc de St-Cloud farm, Jardin du Trocadéro
It’s no accident that the trails in the Parc de Saint Cloud are used in the Ecotrail Paris event. You might need to link trails or do a few loops if you want to hit your distance while staying in the park, but the terrain here is a bit more technical than what you’ll find in Paris and it’s a good place to step up your trail running skills. Pay attention to your footwork here because the ground can be slippery and there are roots to navigate.

Be sure to check the opening hours of the park.


As you travel further from Paris, the parks give way to forests and your options increase tenfold. You’ll be able to do longer runs without the need to do loops, and the hills provide more elevation gain/descent with trails that are more technical. So check out these three trail running areas that are accessible by train where you can go for an awesome run even if you don’t have all day.

Forêt Domaniale de Meudon
  • Location: Meudon-La-Forêt (southwest of Paris)
  • Access: Transilien Lines L, U or N. Also RER C
  • Terrain: trails through hilly undergrowth
  • Points of interest: Observatoire de Meudon, ponds and megaliths

Welcome to the largest forest in the Hauts-de-Seine region. The trails passing through the undergrowth can be steep at times, meaning this is a wonderful place to work on your trail running skills. And when we say that you can link the trails of the Forêt de Meudon with those in the Forêt de Fausses-Reposes and Clamart, you’ll understand why you’ll need more than one trip to explore this area.

  • Location: Jablines-Annet leisure center (east of Paris)
  • Access: Transilien Line P
  • Terrain: banks of the Marne River, a bit technical
  • Points of interest: possibility of notable elevation gain/loss

This is an area, accessible by train, between two stretches of the Marne River. If you want to gain some elevation, even on a short run, just leave the riverbank and you’ll be able to find some hills.

Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, Forêt de Marly
Location: Marly-le-Roi (west of Paris)
Access: Transilien Line L
Terrain: forest trails
Points of interest: Croix St Michel, ruins of the Château de Retz

This area is also accessible by train (the station is called Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche Forêt de Marly) however this time it’s to the west of Paris where you’ll find a wilderness atmosphere in a big forest with beautiful views. This is an area of rolling terrain that’s typically found around Paris, with enough elevation gain to keep you focused on your technique.


La Vallée de Chevreuse
Location: Parc Naturel Régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse (southwest of Paris)
Access: RER B to Gare de Bures-sur-Yvette
Terrain: slightly technical trails
Points of interest: trail system, lots of potential routes

In addition to being part of the Parc Naturel Régional, the Vallée de Chevreuse offers a trail system starting from Bures-sur-Yvette with loads of well-marked trails, and it’s only 40 minutes from Paris on the RER B. There are a wide variety of possible itineraries from lakes to forests to fields and you can boost your distance thanks to a topography that doesn’t vary much in altitude.

  • Location: Saint-Leu-la-forêt (north of Paris)
  • Access: Transilien Line H to Saint-Leu-la-Forêt station (40 min. from Paris)
  • Terrain: variety of forest terrain, sometimes technical and muddy
  • Points of interest: elevation gain/loss, lots of potential routes

The forest of Monmorency is an ideal spot to improve your trail running skills, and because it covers 2,200 hectares you’ll need to make several trips before you can say you’ve explored all the trails. The numerous hills enable you to progressively increase altitude gain/loss during your training.

Location: Forêt de Fontainebleau (southwest of Paris)
Access: one hour from Paris by car, Transilien Line R
Terrain: wide variety of trails in the forest, sand, sandstone boulders
Points of interest: diverse terrain, relief, natural and cultural attractions

The forest at Fontainebleau is definitely the most well-known place for trail running in the Ile-de-France region. In addition to the famous 25 hills circuit (originally created to prepare for alpine expeditions), the forest at Fontainebleau provides a magical, wildly diverse setting for both the feet and for the eyes. Sand, roots, mud, boulders… You’ll find everything you need for a fun and physical trail run here. The only drawback is the difficulty (though not impossibility) in getting there by public transport.

La "gare fantôme" (The phantom station)
  • Location: Forêt de Fontainebleau, « Fontainebleau forêt » train stop
  • Access: Transilien Line R from Paris to Montargis (makes this stop only on weekends and holidays)

Getting to the Forêt de Fontainebleau by public transport for a trail run isn’t easy, but there happens to be a Transilien Line R trick that enables you to get off at a stop called the "gare fantôme" (phantom station). But be careful because although this stop is well-known by Parisian hikers it’s only served on weekends and holidays by trains leaving from Paris Gare de Lyon at 8:16 and 9:16 and travelling to Montargis. Passengers are only allowed to disembark at this stop, so you’ll have to plan your return trip from either the station at Fontainebleau-Avon or the one at Bois-le-Roi.

Preparing for an ultra? Or simply looking for a challenge and need a bigger project than what’s listed above? Check out the GR (grande randonnée or long-distance) trails around Paris!



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