Saturday, July 21, 2007

Running in Paris (2): La Coulée Verte (South)

Last week I described a run which may not be appealing to ultra runners visiting Paris. 1-mile loops in Parc Montsouris are better than circling a stadium track (1/4-mile), yet it's many loops before getting to and beyond the marathon mark!

This run is actually my favorite to escape the city busy and noisy streets and log more miles while I'm visiting Paris (about 6 to 8 times a year, for business). For the South Bay and Silicon Valley residents, this is the closest you can get in the Paris area to the Los Gatos Creek trail.

There are actually two "Coulées Vertes" in Paris. The real Parisians will argue that the real Coulée Verte is in the 12th district and extends in the Eastern suburb of Paris. The one I'm talking about here is actually mostly outside Paris, which has to be if you want to find many miles outside of the busy car traffic of Paris. This is the trail which starts in the South of Paris (hence the South in the title), crosses 2 counties (Hauts de Seine, 92, and Essone, 91), and 10 cities: Malakoff, Châtillon, Bagneux, Fontenay-aux-Roses, Sceaux, Châtenay-Malabry, Antony, Verrières-le-Buisson, and Massy (see more details, in French, at the page "La coulée verte du sud parisien" and also these pictures).
A view of the trail in Chatillon (Copyright Conseil Général 92, Alexandre Petzold):

The trail is mostly a bike lane (asphalt again). It officially starts at the city limit between Malakoff and Paris, but you can find a bike path starting Place de Catalogne, near the Montparnasse train station in the 14th district, which is quite convenient if you stay downtown. When you are on Place de Catalogne, near the Vaugirard side of the train station, you'll find the start of the bike path right behind the Notre-Dame du Travail church (the church is not right on the plaza, you'll have to go through a tall gate in residential buildings, at the South of the plaza).

Unfortunately there is no bathroom and drinking fountain along the course, which is insane for us, runners. You have to carry your own water. As for pit stops, better get all set before starting your run, or stop in a café...

In terms of direction after the start it's really straightforward except for the following two spots, both in Malakoff near the start, so better paying attention not to get lost early in the run.

After passing over the Périphérique (the highway which surrounds Paris), coming from Paris/Montparnasse, you'll enter Malakoff, again, following the bike lane. You'll pass a metro/subway station (Malakoff-Plateau de Vanves) and, about 300 yards later, hit a road at the end of Boulevard Charles de Gaulle: cross it, take on the right under the train track bridge, then right on your left after the bridge (bike lane). That's the first trick, see below (and Google Maps for more details):The second trick comes less than one mile after. You'll hit a main/busy artery which you need to cross, leaving Malakoff and entering in Chatillon. There are a few new buildings, residential and commercial, and often construction which makes the bike lane difficult to find sometimes as some of the sections might be closed (like this summer 07). I suggest you go around a couple of blocks as shown below (and you can check Google Maps too). Again, you need to look for the bike path which goes South, through Chatillon.After that, it's pretty much straightforward for 6-7 miles until Massy, one of the terminal stations of RER B. All the way you'll follow the TGV and RER tracks, but on a trail going mostly through green areas (trees, bushes). Most of the cities you will cross have RER station which is an easy ride back to Paris if you want or need to shorten your run. Take some cash with you in case.

The trail gets more busy during weekends, especially in the morning and mid-afternoon. Otherwise, you won't see many people running or biking during weekdays.

It's really a great way to run 20 miles (or less!) if you stay in Paris (and if you need to put in 40 miles, you can either explore further South of Massy, or do this run twice!). Hope you have the opportunity to try it during a visit to France!

Farther in Europe and France.

1 comment:

Ririnette said...

Great tips! I just did my 20 miler last weekend on the Coulee Verte from Igny along La Valee de la Bievre and all the way into Paris. Much harder than I thought, but carried enough water and gels to get me through it. A very pleasant experience after all.