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Visiting Paris as a tourist usually means long days of hiking across town, climbing steps, and carrying a backpack. With so much physical activity, you can just forget about the need to hit the gym, right?
Well, for us it also means days that begin with a butter croissant (268 calories) and end with a creme caramel (759 calories). In between the two — well, let’s not go there. After about a week, no matter how much you’re walking, one can start feeling the pastries.
What’s a Cheapo to do? We’ve tried a number of strategies, but they usually amount to very little (read: Semi-distracted push-ups on the hotel room floor while watching CNN International). There must be a better way to stay in shape, raise your pulse, and sweat off some of those delicious sauces.
Here are five cheapo ways to stay in shape in Paris:
It sounds obvious, but if you’re a runner, pack your running shoes when you’re visiting Paris. If your hotel is located anywhere near the Seine, a morning or evening run along the river is a must.
Every Sunday, the city’s “Paris Respire” (Paris Breathes) program closes traffic along the banks of the Seine to automobiles from 9 AM to 5 PM, offering the perfect spot for running, walking, or cycling.
The city-run Vélib’ public bike program allows short-term subscriptions (one-week passes: €5, one-day passes: €1). More than 10,000 cute bikes are available at 750 kiosks around town for 30-minute free rentals. Sign up, grab a cycle, and head for one of the many bike lanes. If you want a better workout, stay on the bike for an hour and you’ll only be charged €1. (more pricing info)
If you’re up for a Friday night adventure, join the “Paris Rando Vélo” group for a free group ride through the streets of Paris. The cycling group meets at the Hotel de Ville at 9:30 PM every Friday night, and on the third Sunday morning of the month at 10:30 AM.
Every Friday night, 12,000-15,000 rollerbladers hit the streets of Paris for a 3-hour speed skate through the city, escorted by the police department. The weekly event is not intended for beginners, as the massive group rolls over all manner of road surface, including cobblestones (yikes).
A more relaxed skating tour, the “Roller Rally” leaves every Sunday afternoon from the Place de la Bastille at 2 PM. Rollerblade rentals are available at Roulez Champions, 5 rue Humblot (Arr 15), Metro: Dupleix (01 40 58 12 22).
4) Take an aerobics or yoga class
The American Church in Paris offers daily one-hour aerobics classes open to the public featuring a different focus every night. Classes are €10 each or €72 for 8 sessions. More information is available here.
Yoga classes are held all over Paris on every day of the week. Check out the extensive list of yoga classes on the AngloInfo website.
5) Go to the gym
The gym craze is just beginning to hit Paris (we’ve heard that several gyms are even getting rid of their smoking sections…). While most chains require expensive memberships that are not practical for most travelers, certain gyms do allow single admissions. Among them:
The Body Gym, 157, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine near the Bastille. (€16 single entrance).
Club Quartier Latin, 19 rue de Pontoise in the Latin Quarter (€19 single entrance).
Find more gyms, classes, and fitness ideas on the Paris Fitness website.