Skip to content

Paris Marathon: Route preview

December 17, 2009

‘Know your enemy’ is often the name of the game when it comes to racing. There is nothing worse than turning up at a race, looking at the terrain and realising that you’re hideously under-prepared and the next run is likely to be unexpectedly painful. If this principle holds true over a distance of 10k, it’s likely to be amplified over the course of a marathon.

The course of the 2010 Paris Marathon stretches through the centre of the city, starting from – and ending at – the Arc de Triomphe. The route is below:

The course of the 2010 Paris Marathon cuts through the centre of the city alongside the banks of the river.

The course of the 2010 Paris Marathon cuts through the centre of the city alongside the banks of the river.

The first important thing to establish, is the course profile – how hilly or otherwise is the course? The profile is below. While ‘pancake flat’ might not look to describe the route, the elevation only changes by 20 metres or so at a time. This means there are no significant inclines or declines, but there may be some steep elements.

The course profile of the Paris Marathon shows modest climbs

The course profile of the Paris Marathon shows modest climbs

The climb around the 37–38k mark may be more challenging than it appears in the cold light of day – primarily because it’s beyond the 20-mile point where runners start to lose energy. So, the key takeaway is that you need to be prepared for a little bit more effort in the final stretches of the race.

If you’re looking for hydration and fuel, though, you’re well catered for. Every 5km there are refreshment stations with water, raisins, oranges and bananas. At the 30km and 40km marks, energy drinks are available to push runners through the final slog of the race. It’s also worth noting that the temperature should be pretty manageable. The temperature in Paris in April usually falls between 7°C and 15°C, so neither too hot nor too cold.

I’ve got pretty bad form for drinking during a race – I either end up wearing the drink, throwing it on the floor or suffocating on it. So, in preparation, I need to improve my running-drinking technique, and also need to work out how (and what) to eat when on a run to maintain my energy levels. When you run a marathon, you end up burning something like 3500 calories, so you need to consume energy to limit the glucose deficit.Looking for a marathon training programme? Available now: Marathon Running: Your step-by-step guide to planning, training for and running 26.2 miles - available now from Amazon

Having spoken to someone who has run the Paris Marathon in previous years, there are a couple of organisational quirks to keep in mind. Unlike London, the Paris Marathon does not have barriers separating the spectators from the runners. Presumably, this doesn’t affect runners too much in the main pack of runners, but if you’re running outside of the pack you might find Parisians crossing the street in front of you, or skateboarders tagging along with you.

So, once you know the course profile, the abundance of food and fluids, what else is there to know – other than the inescapable fact that 26.2 miles lie between the start line and a pint of beer? The location and frequency of toilets, perhaps… Running increases digestion, and it’s not uncommon for long-distance runners to find they, well, can hear nature calling during a run. Comments on previous Paris Marathons suggest that there are few toilets around the course. This is worth keeping in mind for comfort’s sake…

However, while you’re crossing your legs on the way round, it’s good to know that there will be 84 bands providing music around the route. Being a major event (the front pack will include some serious professional athletes), the marathon is likely to have an iPod ban – the devices are problematic for big races as they distract runners from the race at hand – so if you need music to keep you going, it should be provided. (Although I have some reservations about the contributions France has made to popular music beyond Daft Punk.)

Finally, with the race entries now closed, it’s interesting to see that there are 5188 Brits entered for the marathon, comprising the largest nationality group outside of France. So, if you’re planning to line up on 11 April 2010, bon chance and perhaps I’ll see you at the pasta party on the Saturday…

To read what it was like to run the 2010 Paris Marathon, click here.

Or, to see the course mile by mile, click on the links below:

A mile-by-mile breakdown of the course – and some highlights of what you can expect to see – is available below:

Mile 1

Mile 2

Mile 3

Mile 4

Mile 5

Mile 6

Mile 7

Mile 8

Mile 9

Mile 10

Mile 11

Mile 12

Mile 13

Mile 14

Mile 15

Mile 16

Mile 17

Mile 18

Mile 19

Mile 20

Mile 21

Mile 22

Mile 23

Mile 24

Mile 25

Mile 26

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
10 Comments leave one →
  1. FooRunner permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:46 pm

    this is a great writeup! Thanks. I am running the 2010 Paris marathon. This has helped with a lot of questions. Thank you!

    • January 19, 2010 7:02 pm

      Thanks! Glad the post is useful. I’m going to keep updating this as and when I find out more information about the course and so on. Looking forward to April – it’s getting close now. Good luck with the training.

  2. FirstTimer permalink
    March 23, 2010 1:01 pm

    This is God-send Lewis! Thanks a ton!

  3. Jake permalink
    April 7, 2010 12:44 pm

    Does anyone know how stringently iPod bans are enforced as a general rule??!

    • April 7, 2010 12:55 pm

      I know course organisers generally put up signs about the ban and will warn runners if they’re listening to music while at the start line, but once on the course I think they’re pretty lenient generally (unless you’re a front runner, in which case you might get disqualified). Once the race is underway, I suspect the marshalls will have better things to do…

      Good luck for the run on Sunday!

  4. Jake permalink
    April 7, 2010 12:58 pm

    Thanks! Don’t anticipate finishing, ahem, amongst the very first group, so I will try to smuggle it in and hopefully the training will mean being able to outrun the marshalls if need be…

    PS great blog, thank you

  5. Jov Siri permalink
    March 20, 2011 6:06 pm


    I am hoping to run the Paris Marathon on 10 April this year. Your course preview for Paris is very insightful. Congrats on meeting your target time.

    A few pages on the mile-by-mile breakdown cannot be accessed unfortunately (i.e. miles 09,11, 14-21, 25-26).

    Would be very grateful if there is anyway you could re-post the info for these miles?

    Hope your training for london is coming along well.

    many thanks,


    • March 20, 2011 10:16 pm

      Hi Jov,

      I’m glad you’ve found the course preview useful, and thanks for letting me know about the broken links. Hopefully these should all be fixed now, but let me know if not and I’ll see if there’s anything else I can do…

      Training for London is going well, so will hopefully pay off come the big day. I hope your training for Paris is going well and that you’re feeling well-prepared for 10 April. Good luck – or bonne chance, as it should probably be!


  6. Niall permalink
    December 20, 2011 12:35 pm

    Hi Lewis,

    I’m signed up for Paris 2012. I’m just wondering about the cobblestones on the course – how did you find them? Are they tightly packed, or loose and dangerous? How much of the course is spent on the cobbles? And lastly – if you’re from London as I am – can you recommend any areas in London to train on cobblestones?

    It’ll be my first marathon and I’m a little wary of training only on flat roads and having a problem in Paris.

    I had a look at your Garmin race page. Nice work. Your times are pretty consistent. I’d be stoked with that performance!


    • December 21, 2011 4:14 pm

      Hi Niall,

      Thinking back, I seem to remember a lot of the course being on fairly good surfaces, although there are a few areas where the roads are flagstones rather than tarmac. From memory, that’s only really the case up until Bastille, so for the first six miles or so. However, the morning I ran the race, there were some puddles at the edges of the course a few miles into the race. I stepped in one and ended up with a blister from around the half-way point, so best avoid that if you can!

      If you’re looking for a similar terrain in London, the Thames Path is probably as close as it gets. However, the canals would probably give a fairly similar feel if you want to avoid the crowds of central London.

      Hope that helps, and best of luck with the training and race day itself.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: