How the Paris Marathon Works

Paris Marathon Route

Want a chance for a springtime run in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? The Paris Marathon gives you the opportunity to see the sights: The loop race starts and finishes at the Arc de Triomphe and winds its way through the City of Lights, along the famous Champs Elysées. You'll pass by historic sites like the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, the Place de la Bastille and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. These famous landmarks help make the Paris Marathon one of the most scenic races in the world, which is one reason why the race fills up six months in advance.

Aside from famous landmarks, the cobblestoned route also passes countless cafes, gardens and shady city parks. Every 5 kilometers (or 3.1 miles) along the wide, flat streets near the scenic Seine River are refueling stations that offer water, fresh fruit and sugar to help runners maintain their energy levels. If you don't want to wear a watch to keep time, you can check your pace at the 1- and 21-kilometer (0.6- and 13-mile) marks, and every 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in between.

The start of any race that has 40,000 runners can be a little hazardous, and it's especially tricky on the cobblestone streets at the starting line of the Paris Marathon. Once the field spreads out, the footing becomes more stable, and each starting zone has a pacemaker who can help you keep track of your running time. If you have a goal in mind, you can simply follow these experienced runners who have colored balloons tied to their wrists. So if you want to run the race in 3:30, just look for the blue balloons and keep pace. To qualify as a pacemaker, you must have run the previous five Paris Marathons at the target time for which you're applying.