A Marathon in Paris

Friday, 14 April 2017

This was a a city break with a bit of a twist. When Sam and I started running last May we did so with the goal of running in the London Marathon; anyone who’s tried to enter the Marathon will know that it is quite difficult and we ended up not getting places. However I still really wanted to challenge myself and I had caught the running bug, so Sam did some research and found out you can pay for a place in the Paris Marathon. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris so this seemed like such a good choice as we were able to run a marathon and explore a new city at the same time.

Jardin du Luxembourg

It felt like no time had passed between booking our places and actually running it. Of course it was about 4 months in total and those months were spent training and running ridiculous distances. You know you’re training for a marathon when you refer to running 15 miles as a “short run” but in all honesty it takes over your life; you should never apply for a marathon lightly, you need to be prepared to push yourself and put the hours in. When the day came for the race I thought I would be ridiculously nervous but I was actually quite excited. The atmosphere was electric. Over 50,000 people were running it and you could feel the buzz in the city.

Notre Dame

Sam and I ran it separately as he was going to be faster than me; I started about half an hour after him. So with The Prodigy blasting in my ear and energy gels in my belt - I was off! The route was actually very nice, pretty flat the majority of the way round and you got to see a lot of the sights. It started and finished at the Arc de Triomphe which was very special. The weather was really warm, about 23 degrees celsius, which I wasn’t overly excited about. I’m not great at running in heat, especially as I’ve trained during winter, but it meant the turnout of supporters was great and having people you don’t know cheer your name and urge you on gives you quite the boost. Amazingly my sister and her friend surprised me on the Eurostar over and came to support us. I saw them 3 times during my run and it definitely encouraged me to keep going. There were also frequent water and food stations, and there were people with fire hoses spraying water into the air for us to run under which was a God send. I completed the marathon in 5 hours and 32 minutes, which I’m pretty chuffed about.

Arc de Triomphe

Towards the end of the race I definitely struggled; my legs were seizing up and the heat was definitely getting to me so I did have to stop and walk sometimes but I didn’t really care too much. I was just happy I crossed that finish line! It also probably didn’t help that we had done a lot of walking the day before; we had always said that we didn’t want to do a lot of walking the day before however, as it was our first time in Paris, there were a few things we wanted to see. I don’t regret my decision, as for me it wasn’t so much about a time as it was about just finishing.


Now, what can I say about Paris itself? It is stunning. I mean really beautiful. I am totally in love with the city; I have always wanted to go there but I underestimated how much I would enjoy it. We didn’t see as many of the sights but I was never bored. Knowing we had limited time, we kept our tourist itinerary pretty short. On the first day we got to Paris at about 4pm so decided to go to Notre Dame and walk along to the Louvre as it was open late and we fancied seeing this special painting that everyone keeps banging on about (I am of course talking about the Mona Lisa). Seeing Notre Dame was like walking into my childhood; The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of my favourite films as a child, I even watched it before we went, and I was in awe seeing it in real life. We even heard Quasimodo ringing the bells! (not really). I always enjoy wandering around churches and cathedrals; although I’m not religious myself, I always find them very peaceful and when we went inside there was a lady singing which added to the serenity.

The Louvre
The Mona Lisa

The Louvre is an absolute must. Even walking towards the huge courtyard you knew this building was going to be incredible. After we'd taken an obligatory "look I'm touching the top of the pyramid" picture, we bought our tickets from a slightly, actually very, rude ticket vendor and we went inside. Even if galleries aren't your thing I still think you'd enjoy a visit to the Louvre. It's so vast and with paintings and sculptures from different time periods you'll definitely find something that impresses you. If not just tick the Mona Lisa off your checklist. Speaking of Mona Lisa, I was a little underwhelmed by it. There were plenty of other paintings which I found a lot more interesting but it was still good to see her in the flesh, even if a fellow tourist decided to lean his elbow on my head like a tripod to take his pictures! I kid you not, some people have no boundaries. Another sight I was slightly underwhelmed by was the Moulin Rouge; we didn't have time to watch a show but just wanted to see the outside. I'd heard that its actually quite small but still wanted to see it myself. I was happy to take a look but if you're not overly fussed I would definitely give it a miss. Again, for me, it was another tick!

The Moulin Rouge
The Eiffel Tower

We spent the majority of Saturday walking around the palace of Versailles which was stunning. Also it was huge! I'm not even joking when I say we walked about 6 miles around the gardens and we didn't even see it all. The weather was lovely which made it all the more enjoyable. If you go to Versailles expect to queue at some point, unless you get there super early as it can get quite busy. Also prepare to be shoulder to shoulder with other tourists as you shuffle around the palace. It did get a bit much at some points but seeing the Hall of Mirrors was definitely worth it.

Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

Another sight that definitely didn’t disappoint was the Eiffel Tower. I had my first glimpse of it as I was running and it almost stops you in your tracks. For some reason I thought it was going to be smaller? Not sure why. But there is no doubt that this structure is huge. It looks even more amazing at night when it’s all lit up and sparkling. We didn’t fancy going to the top as it cost around £40 and I’m not really up for paying that much for a view. A view made much better with the Eiffel Tower in it. As as far as sights are concerned that's pretty much all we saw, we did do a quick trip to the Sacré-Cœur but that took all of half an hour. Of course there's plenty more to do in Paris but with our limited time we could only do so much.


How is it I haven't even mentioned food yet? All bread everything - I was in heaven! I definitely felt very un-French not drinking any wine. I just can't seem to like it. But whenever a basket of bread was put in front of me I was happy. The service we received was basically luck of the draw. We were served by some people who looked like they'd rather be anywhere else but served by others who were brilliant. I seemed to enjoy the food more at the place with better service, coincidence?

Sacré-Cœur
View from Sacré-Cœur

When it came to travel we stuck to the Metro and buses. It is pretty straightforward to navigate your way around, just be mindful of pick pockets. It also smells of urine. But very cheap so who can argue? They do have uber in Paris but I'd much rather stick to public transport, especially if you don't have a huge amount of money and also a system like the metro can actually be a lot quicker than driving so just seemed like the better option for us.


It's still sinking in that the marathon has happened. It's such a big achievement for me and has pretty much made me want to do more marathons. Sam has already done research on other marathons in different countries, Rome anyone?



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