If you’re not born French, you lack the genes that seem to create bodies devoid of fat. Either that or there’s a town somewhere where the government ships anyone with more than 5% body fat…
Let’s hope not.
So, how do you enjoy all of those calorie-heavy éclairs and cheese plates without adding extra inches to your waistline? There are a few ways, some easier than others, but Paris isn't a place you have to visit and pack on the pounds. You just have to know what you’re doing.
1. Take the stairs: Take a hike up Montmartre, or just opt for the stairs at the Eiffel Tower. Elevators are not a given in apartments, so if you rent an AirBnB without one but you’re on the 5th floor, you’re golden. Eat all of the baguettes you want because you have a climb ahead of you at the end of each day. If you’re in a hotel, just ignore the elevator. It’s not that bad. Your butt will hate you, but you’ll love your butt.
2. Go for a run: If you’re already sporty, you can go for a run. It sounds daunting, but jogging through the streets of Paris at 6AM is one of the most magical ways to see the city, as the sun rises and the smells of freshly baked croissants wafts through the air. You’ll be energized for the rest of the day, and you can guiltlessly have at least one of those croissants that you’ll inevitably pick up on the way home.
Or join us at the Paris Half Marathon this weekend, or the Paris Marathon in April…pizza to follow!
3. Small portions: Split a starter and a dessert. Go for 2 courses instead of 3. Get a demi-baguette instead of a whole one. Think about keeping your portions down – it’s not hard in France since portions are already minuscule compared to those in the US. French food is satiating, and if eaten slowly, you end up not needing as much. If you’re hungry an hour later, you won’t feel as terrible getting another pastry or bit of chocolate elsewhere.
4. Walk, walk, walk: Sure, the metro is efficient, but why take it three or four stops if you can walk and soak up that much more of the city? This city is like one giant promenade just asking to be pounded by your feet. Of course we can help you with this if you need a walking tour. And what’s more, each step is one closer to an extra chocolate croissant the next morning – you've earned it.
5. Hit the gym: There are gyms that don’t require memberships if you just want to stop in for a bit of exercise. The Gym Louvre and IDM Sauna are two options we can suggest – and if you’re looking for a little extra “exercise,” the sauna portions of both are, well, steamy, if you catch my drift. Sorry ladies, this is a no-go zone for you.
6. Choose your calories: When you’re in Paris for a short time, do you really need McDonald’s? Pizza? Soda? Starbucks? We’re not judging you, but you don’t need to hop a plane for these things, and they are all calorie bombs. A pizza has about 200 more calories than a plate of steak-frites (roughly). A grande caramel macchiato sets you back 240 calories – regular black coffee? Two! So you can totally justify that 400 calorie croissant!
When drinking, remember a glass of wine has slightly fewer calories and carbs than a pint of beer, plus you also won’t chug wine like you can with beer. And of course the wine is better than the beer you’ll be getting at most gay bars.
7. Dance it out: Most of the nightclubs and soirees we suggest have pretty rigorous dancing potential if you're willing to take part. The French aren't known for being the most graceful on the dance floor, so don't be timid. You can really work up a sweat since some of these places get hot.
8. Be French about it: This is the last case scenario when, after a week in Paris, the previous suggestions didn't pan out for you. “Je m’en fiche,” they’ll say. I don’t care. You eat what you eat when you’re hungry, and that’s that. You’ll go on a régime, or diet, when you get to it. Just go watch an aimless black and white film, complain about something, and throw on a scarf. You’re now officially French.
Did we miss any other tricks? Other than not consuming anything (not advocated)?