To accurately describe the relationship between Paris and adventure, it would probably help to broaden your definition of the latter term. True, the City of Light may not have access to a wealth of nearby natural wonders (an inland metropolis with neither coastal nor mountain access and intersected by a lazy river), but to say that there’s little for an adventurous person to do here is as close to completely inaccurate as you can get. Have we sufficiently convoluted the issue? Good. Then let’s get started.
If your idea of getting out into the great outdoors consists of hiking and biking through picturesque valleys, fields and forests, as well as navigating over and around challenging boulders, Paris should suit you nicely. Whether you’re planning to explore on two wheels or two feet, put the Compiegne Forest (north), French Vexin (northwest) and Chevreuse Valley (southwest) right at the top of your list. Simple, beautiful with well-worn paths and pastoral appeal, these parks and protected areas offer a wealth of easy to moderate trails to explore, many of which pass nearby historic buildings and/or landmarks. Care to try your hand at some of the best bouldering in the country? Then head to the deciduous woods of Fontainbleau Forest south of the city, where incredible rock formations give you all the challenge you can handle and then some.
But those with a taste for the extreme need not only look outside the borders of Paris to satisfy your adventurous cravings. If you’re into mixing sightseeing with exercising, try using the fantastic and ubiquitous Velib public biking system to explore the city on your own, then hit up the Buttes Chaumont Park in the northeast for a beautiful hilltop run. Visiting on a Friday? You may want to consider strapping on a pair of roller blades and taking to the streets of the French capital with thousands of other bladers in one of the city’s most unique sports spectacles. Or you could opt for the Aerokart indoor wind tunnel, simulating the act of a 2.5 minute free fall without the stomach churning leap out of an airplane. It all adds up to a wealth of great experiences and an excellent reason to get to know the more adventurous side of the City of Light.