A new type of tourism is growing, and it's fed by those who are keen to participate in exhausting four hour running races, but also to enjoy a city and feel part of it. Marathon tourism is an increasing phenomenon, and in April I visited Paris (a city I already loved). I visited the city to run the marathon as well as spend a few days seeing the city and enjoying it. The emphasis of the trip was not to sight see, but rather to enjoy the marathon as well as enjoy the amazing food and wine that can be found here
The marathon is set in the heart of the city, and begins on the Champs Elyses, the central and famous shopping street that connects the Arc de Triomphe to the Tuileries gardens. It's a beautiful and atmospheric start point, and as you can see in the photo to the right, I was feeling happy, excited and ready. Before the marathon starts, they even have some enthusiastic dancers and warm up people on tall thin platforms that help the waiting crowds to get ready. The starting gun goes off in the background, but with thousands of people running, it takes a long time until myself and friends are ready to get going (hence the six hour time when really the run time was less than four hours). And then 42 kilometres later, in 30 degree Celsius temperatures - you would be able to see a slightly less enthusiastic and happy version of the photo above.
Just as important as the marathon is the enjoyment of the city afterwards. We were located in a fairly central area, and so the night of the marathon we walked around (hobbled) to see some of the nightlife and restaurants in the area.
The Latin Quarter is my favourite part of Paris, with its winding streets and cosy feel, and just over the bridge shown in the photo above is where the bulk of this district can be found. If you face Notre Dame, then turn to your right, you'll find it
The real joy of Paris for me is during the night. The city can seem bustling and work-focused like any large city in the day, but the charm, romance and 'atmosphere' that most people come here for is best felt when the soft street lights glow and the tall buildings feel cosy rather than cold.
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