On Sunday April 9th, you may be lucky enough to take part in the 41st edition of the Schneider Electric Marathon in Paris as one of the 57,000 runners expected to dash off the Champs-Élysées. Looking victorious with your bib, you will run across the most beautiful streets of Paris while passing before world famous monuments in astonishment.
Léa, Mawa, Jérôme, Antoine and Laurent, better known as The Scouts by Air France, are Air France staff members and passionate runners. They give you a preview of all the secrets to get through the Parisian marathon. They took shifts during 4 hours and identified the difficulties and specifics of these 42.195 km. Discover their precious suggestions to rise to the challenge on marathontips.airfrance.fr/en.
For your preparation and to complement this essential website, we mapped out the route that you will sweat for, a few days before the whistle blow. This will take your breath away!
Grand Palais – kilometres 0 and 28
Neoclassical masterpiece built on the occasion of the 1900 World Fair, the Grand Palais is now listed as a historical monument. The Nave, National Galleries and Palais de la découverte make up for a major cultural emblem in Paris. It houses permanent collections, temporary exhibitions as well as national and international events.
In the excitement of the start of the race, you may not have the opportunity to recognize the large glass dome mounted with the French flag. Don't worry, you'll have another chance around kilometre 28!
3, avenue du Général Eisenhower
Place de la Concorde – kilometre 1
A few strides later, you'll find yourself on the south lane of the Place de la Concorde down the Champs-Élysées. The road was open under Louis XVI in 1775 after twenty years of humongous levelling work. Its current name was found during the Directoire, as a sign of reconciliation among the French people.
Cool off just by looking at prestigious watering places along the way, like the Fontaine des Mers and the Fontaine des Fleuves. Fortify yourself and admire the Luxor Obelisk, offered to King Charles X by the Vice-King of Egypt Mehmet Ali in 1830 and erected in line with the Tuileries Garden in 1836.
Place de la Concorde
Tuileries Garden – kilometres 2 and 26
In 1519, Francis I set his sights on a large plot of land on which a tile factory was built. His plan was to construct a luxurious residence with a garden, but to no avail. In 1564, Catherine de Medici set up the famous Tuileries Palace in a Florentine-style garden inspired by the Middle-Ages. In 1664, it was redesigned by André Le Nôtre and became the first public garden in Paris.
Today, the oldest park of the capital is decorated with sculptures by Maillol, Rodin and Giacometti. It still captivates visitors who discover the Orangerie Museum and the work of Monet. The Tuileries are well worth a look at!
113, rue de Rivoli
Louvre – kilometres 2 and 26
Before it became a museum in 1793, the Louvre was a simple fortress and, later on, one of the main residences used by the Kings of France. Over 73,000 sqm, 35,000 works of art are on display. It counts 10,000 steps and 2,000 employees spread over 403 rooms. If you were to contemplate each piece for 10 seconds, it would take you three days and two nights to roam the entire museum.
Your marathon stamina would certainly allow so! However, on April 9th, it is the spectacular glass and metal pyramid conceived by Ieoh Ming Pei that you will observe at kilometres 2 and 26 of the race.
Hôtel de Ville – kilometre 3
You've been running for three kilometres now and you already recognize another symbol of the French capital, in the 4th arrondissement. Reconstructed by architects Ballu and Deperthes after it burned down during the Paris Commune riots in 1871, the Paris City Hall proudly takes centre stage on the eponymous square that has been the stronghold of city institutions since the 14th century.
Slightly turn your head towards that large building, 110-metre long, 85-metre wide and 48-metre high. It is the largest town hall in Europe. Its Renaissance Revival architecture façades are adorned with sculptures of major characters of French history. With a simple glance, you'll be able to pay tribute to Molière, Richelieu, Voltaire, Boileau and Le Nôtre.
Hôtel de Ville
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
Place de la Bastille – kilometres 5 and 22
To the French citizens who took up arms and fought for public freedoms on July 27th, 28th, and 29th, 1830. You can read this engraving at the foot of the July column at the centre of the Place de la Bastille. Mounted with Auguste Dumont's Génie de la Liberté (Spirit of Freedom) gilded bronze sculpture, it is an emblem of the 1789 French Revolution. The Bastille fortress was the absolute symbol of the Ancien Régime.
After it was taken down, the Bastille became one of the major squares in Paris, today very much the refuge of many night owls. Slow down a bit, you won't regret it.
Place de la Bastille
Château de Vincennes – kilometre 12
Symbol of royal powers, the Vincennes Castle demonstrates robustness to look after the capital. Until 1682, the building was home to the kings of France and makes a noteworthy entrance in the history of the French Monarchy. In the 14th century, King Charles V added the highest dungeon found in Europe at the time, and King Henri II a Holy Chapel of flamboyant gothic style. Later on, architect Le Vau devised the King and Queen classical pavilions facing each other in South and North wings. Steeped in gloomy and imperial history, the castle is now the base of the Defence Historical Service. Admire a place of national collective memory on your way.
Château de Vincennes
Avenue de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral – kilometre 24
Whoever walks in the City of Lights cannot leave before visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This masterpiece of Gothic architecture was completed in the 14th century and restored in the 19th century under the supervision of architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. Traces of the French Revolution have been erased and the monument has become one of the most visited in France.
At kilometre 24, you will surely feel the adrenaline rush from the race, but also from the beauty of the Cathedral. In the historical centre of Paris, you may be led into a short detour towards an architectural gem, continuously kept amazing with stained-glass windows, gargoyles and towers.
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
6, parvis Notre-Dame
Place Jean-Paul II
Musée d'Orsay – kilometre 26
Alongside the left bank of the Seine, the former Orsay train station built by architect Victor Laloux now proudly stands as one of France's most beautiful museums. Since 1986, it has shown all facets of artistic expression to the ever-growing public: painting, sculpture, decorative and graphic arts, architecture, photography and so on...
Part of the frontrunners, you probably won't have time to stop and stare at a Cézanne, a Renoir or a Manet painting. You may still be able to admire the monumental stone façade of an old royal station, inaugurated during the 1900 World Fair.
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur
Eiffel Tower – kilometre 29
The Eiffel Tower is a wonder of technique and architectural skills. It was built on the occasion of the 1889 World Fair, and as a celebration of the French Revolution centenary. French emblem across the world and showcase of a romantic and fanciful Paris, it bears the mark of genius Gustave Eiffel, who built the monument in only two years, two months and five days.
The construct was meant to be disassembled but remained intact due to ongoing scientific tests. Its majesty and resilience will help you recharge your batteries to run these last fifteen kilometres. And as you pass the finish line in a dignified way, catch your breath. At the very end of the avenue your frail legs are treading upon, the Arc de Triomphe awaits you, reflecting the light of a prodigious city.
5, avenue Anatole-France