Jogging has become wildly popular in Paris, ever since the former President Nicolas Sarkozy started a trend by jogging in the Tuileries. Now everyone is doing “le footing.” There is a stretch of the Seine between Pont de L’Alma (near where Princess Diana’s car crash took place) and the Musée D’Orsay that the city has recently redone for joggers with street art and water fountains.
Our local Parc Monceau has exploded with people running the perimeter path that measures exactly 1 k.m. Early in the spring, you could sit on a bench at 6 p.m. and feel like you were in the middle of a marathon.
Nike hasn’t made fashion inroads here the way it has elsewhere, despite its flagship on the Champs Elysées. There is a Lululemon Athletica but I’ve never seen anyone else but me wear it.
I have seen people jogging in sweaters, corduroy pants, and even a trench coat. But as my friend Ryan says—a fellow Canadian who likes to run in Paris—even if they have on a Lacoste polo and Bensimmon tennis shoes, at least they actually pound out the 10 K.
My friend Pilar and I run together a couple of times a week after school drop offs. Maybe its because our fellow joggers are not the ones who have proper jobs to rush off to that they are so iconoclastic. The different gaits are something to behold. Some people jog and box (another popular park sport for both men and women) at the same time. They exhale in two sharp, audible bursts, like they are trying to blow out a joke candle. (According to Emmanuelle, they are taught to do this in gym class.) One guy even wears a gas mask-type of contraption and sounds like Darth Vader as he jogs up behind you.
Then there are the Sapeurs-Pompiers of Paris—the Parisian fire brigade. They belong to the French army and jog daily at Parc Monceau in groups of 3 or 4. You can spot them immediately in the winter in their tight white shirts paired with shiny red Lycra leggings. Just recently they switched to their warm weather attire: red short shorts. Yes, it’s Paris in the springtime.