Top 10 French Races

France's best, from 20K to 100K. Read on, and your feet will start twitching...

Posted: 8 July 2002
by Mark Hewsion

Bored with the usual merry-go-round of local 10Ks and half-marathons? Looking to combine a new racing experience with a break away from home while exploring new territory? Don’t want to fly halfway around the world to do it?

France could be the answer you are looking for. It’s a country with an impressive array of landscapes, an astonishing wealth of cultural variety, and a running scene that is simply unique. What’s more, it isn’t too far away. If you live in the south of England, getting to France is probably easier than travelling up to the Great North Run – and you might not struggle as much with the language. Even the beaches of the south or the mountains of the east are but a short flight away.

With that in mind, here are a few racing ideas for your spring or summer holiday. The races listed here are not necessarily the best-known races in the country – we assume you don’t need to know any more about the Paris or Médoc Marathons – nor are they necessarily the biggest, although some of them are considered classics. This list is intended to give you a taste – sometimes literally – of the variety of races available in France.

The French predilection for something just a little bit different means that many of these races are run over non-standard distances, are often run point-to-point rather than out-and-back, and may involve unusual contexts or locations. It may seem ridiculous to attempt a marathon while sampling a selection of fine wines, but in France it’s all just part of the experience. Whether you yearn for the majesty of the Mont Blanc scenery, the medieval towns and châteaux of La France profonde, the spectacular coastlines of the north or the non-stop festivities and sun of the south, there are races to do and places to see there.

Each race has a page of its own:

French Connections

  • Remember, when phoning/faxing overseas, always use the International Dialling Code 00 plus 33 for France, then drop the first zero of the local number (unless you are phoning from inside France).
  • All distances are listed in kilometres because that’s what you get in France. Miles are an alien concept.
  • France being France, you can’t escape the great machine that is French administration, even when you just want to get out there and run. For almost all races, you will be asked for either proof of a valid club membership or, failing that, a recent medical certificate stating that you are able to participate in competitive sporting events. It may be a pain, but it’s worth getting one to save disappointment on the day.
  • As a general rule, English is understood in writing. So if you don’t speak French, contact the event via e-mail or fax and resort to English over the telephone only if time is short.

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Discuss this article

I did this race last weekend. Well organised race, lots of drinks, oranges and sugar cube stops. A variety of music bands around the course. Fantastic sight seeing opportunity!
Posted: 26/10/2003 at 19:06

very very strange selection ;-)

what are the criteria ?
who decide ?

be serious and ask for a real french runner ... me for example

Marathon de Paris
Marathon du Médoc
Marathon du Mt St Michel
Marathon de Monaco (FR/MON/ITA)
Half Marathon Nice/Monaco
Half Cap d'Antibes

and ok for Marvejoles/Mende and St Topez !

Posted: 06/01/2005 at 17:00

and what about the Lyon Marathon - a handy replacement for those who couldn't enter the London run...

Not forgetting the great St. Etienne -Lyon run 68km kick off at midnight first Saturday of December
Posted: 10/03/2007 at 18:39

Anybody got any feedback on the Reims half marthon - is it worth doing.

Thinking of doing this next year but will plan a weeks holiday around it but need to make sure its worth while

Posted: 28/04/2008 at 14:08

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