Top 10 French Races

Featuring... La Champenoise, Les crêtes du Pays Basque, 6000D La Plagne, Marvejols-Mende, North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc, Paris-Versailles, La Ronde Cérétane, La Ronde des Foies Gras, Les 20K de Paris, Maratho

Posted: 10 October 2008
by Alison Hamlett

La Champenoise, May [Getty Images]

Fancy-dress running is de rigueur at many French races, but it’s just part of the picture in a country where running tends towards extremes. Where else could you refuel at 23 wine stations during a marathon or attempt 30,000 feet of climbing in a single race?

Whether you’re looking for a half-marathon through the vineyards of Champagne or a mountain trail race to test every fibre of your being, there’s a perfect race for you in France.

Here’s our pick of the country’s top races, selected by Runner’s World France’s Editor Gaël Couturier. Start planning your fancy-dress costume now.

La Champenoise (May)

2009 Date: May 16
This half-marathon through the vineyards of France’s Champagne region features 'revitalising' Champagne at every drinks' station in the villages you pass though. After the civilised 3pm start, around 2000 runners head through the undulating French countryside, with more than half in fancy dress hoping to win a prize for the best costume.
Race website:

Les crêtes du Pays Basque (July)

2009 Date: July 4
Race along spectacular Pyrenean ridges at the 34th edition of this mountain trail race in the Basque region of France. There are a variety of distances to choose from, including a 27K option with more than 1,000m of climbing down to a 7K option. The 27K and 19K options take you to the summit of Mondarrain – the highest point on the course at 750m – where you can enjoy great views of the Basque coast.
Race website:

La Plagne, July [Getty Images]

6000D La Plagne (July)

2009 Date: tbc
This 55K mountain trail race features 6,000m of height difference – 3,000m of climbing and 3,000m of descending – around the French ski resort of La Plagne. If that sounds too strenuous, there are also two shorter races: the two lakes trail is a 22K event starting at Plagne Bellecote and climbing up to Dou du Plaz to join the 6000D course, while the Randoplagne is an 11K race that links the various high-altitude resorts of La Plagne.
Race website:

Marvejols-Mende (July)

2009 Date: tbc
If you’re looking for a wild introduction to racing in France, try this 22.4K in the protected wilderness of the Massif Central. The race starts in Marvejols, a medieval town with a rich history, and finishes in Mende with two famous cols and plenty of course-side entertainment separating the ancient towns. With locals daubing words of encouragement underfoot on the climbs, you could imagine yourself tackling a mountain stage of the Tour de France.
Race website:

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc (August)

2009 Date: tbc
Seven valleys, 71 glaciers, 400 summits: the 166K Tour of Mont Blanc is not for the faint-hearted. The aim of this race is simple: to cover the 166K Mont Blanc Circuit in a single stage in under 46 hours. The race start in Chamonix sees around 2000 runners tackle 9,400m of altitude as they pass through three different countries – France, Italy and Switzerland.
Race website:

Paris-Versailles, September [Getty Images]

Paris-Versailles (September)

2009 Date: tbc
This 10-mile point-to-point race in the French capital starts in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The first four miles of the course hug the banks of the Seine River before runners head through Paris’s wooded suburbs before a finish at the magnificent Palace of Versailles. Unless you’re an elite athlete, the start is something of a free for all: a no-seeding policy means you can start where you like.
Race website:

La Ronde Cérétane (September)

2009 Date: tbc
This run is more like an enormous village fete than a race. Around 2000 runners head to the extreme south east of France by the Spanish border to take part in a variety of races, from a children’s run to a 20K. The event’s location between the Mediterranean and Pyrennees ensures there are plenty of local delicacies on offer, including wine and Muscat, and the dancing and parties before and after the race mean this event is far more than just a run.
Race website:

La Ronde des Foies Gras (October)

2009 Date: Second Sunday in October
Corn-stuffed goose and duck are the speciality of the Gers region in south west France, where this race takes place. But it’s runners who get stuffed here by sampling the French delicacy at the seven farms offering the pate on toast during the 25K Ronde des Foies Gras.
Race website:

Les 20K de Paris, October [Getty Images]

Les 20K de Paris (October)

2009 Date: tbc
This single-lap race starts and finishes at the Eiffel Tower via the Bois de Boulogne and along the banks of the Seine. It’s a great event if you’re a race souvenir buff: as well as a medal you also get to keep your Champion chip timing device, which is a unique design every year. The race is limited to 20,000 runners and always sells out.
Race website:

Marathon du Cognac (November)

2009 Date: tbc
Like the Medoc Marathon near Bordeaux, this race takes place on Saturday but the party starts on Friday night with a welcome drink and pasta party. The marathon village features a carnival atmosphere with stalls selling local delicacies from nuts, honey, jams, and cheese to snails, local Charentais vin du Pays and Cognac. The gently undulating course shouldn’t prove too testing if you’re intent on sampling the local delicacies as you run.
Race website:

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How about 

The "classic international race Marseille-Cassis"  in Provence. It is just Stuning !

Have a look


Posted: 14/10/2011 at 20:09

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