Luke is an Australian expat living in Paris since November last year. After biking through Africa and finding love back home, Luke moved to Paris and set up RunParis.fr where he provides free guided running tours in the French capital. When not running, Luke likes to spend his time finishing his book about his Africa trip and finding good coffee in Paris. Read on to find out more about Luke and his free running tours!
Urban Mishmash: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from originally? How long have you been in Paris and what brought you here?
Luke: I’m from Perth in Australia, which is over on the west coast, lots of beaches and sunshine. I moved to Paris in November last year.
How I got here is a bit of a long story: I quit my job years ago as an engineer and booked a one way ticket to London with the idea of travelling. I bought a motorbike and started touring in Europe. It was a blast. I spent a lot of time in the UK, France and Spain, but the wintry months were coming fast, so I rode to Africa. I ended up somehow riding all the way from the top of Africa to the bottom, which took me through a lot Francophone countries – like Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and The Congo, amongst many, many others – which is where I first started speaking French.
After about a year and a half of touring on the bike I made it to South Africa and then headed back home to Australia – I was cooked! Back in Australia I took French lessons at the Alliance Française to “keep my knives sharp” and met a girl there. Of course, we fell in love and I’ve moved my life to Paris to be with her. It’s been an amazing year.
Urban Mishmash: What do you do?
Luke: Right now, whilst I’m an engineer by profession, I don’t work in the industry anymore. I’m spending my time writing a book about the trip through Africa, which gives me a ton of spare time and which is where the RunParis.fr running tours started coming in.
Urban Mishmash: Tell us about RunParis. What prompted you to start RunParis?
Luke: I got the idea for the RunParis.fr Paris Running Tour when I first arrived here in Paris – I’ve been an avid runner for years, with a handful of marathons under my belt, and I couldn’t think of a better way to see Paris than to take a running tour. I was happy to see that there were tours that were available, but the cost was astronomical. A crazy 85 euros per hour per person. It seemed wrong on principle to charge people that much just to go for a run. It didn’t seem right. So, I started doing my own running tour of Paris, and I made it for free, because I think running should be free!
The running tours have quickly gained popularity and I’m thrilled that I can offer it to runners and visitors to Paris for nothing. I get a real kick out of it, what could be better than running in Paris?!
Urban Mishmash: What has been your funniest or happiest experience with your running tours?
Luke: There are a couple. My first ever tour was very special. I’d been showing up for weeks at the designated meeting point and doing the running tour all by myself, giving the tour out loud like a crazy person. The first person to come on our tour was great, an American named Michelle. She loved the idea even more than I did, and we had an amazing run on a beautiful sunny day, it was after that run that I knew that I had something.
The most exciting experience was having DC Rainmaker come on the tour. For those who haven’t heard of him, he’s a “bit of a big deal” in the running community. He’s a blogger for running and triathlon products and he’s huge on the internet. He came along on our run and loved it. I was thrilled to have such a big name come along on the tour. He gave us a rave review and everything!
Urban Mishmash: Which part of Paris / Ile de France do you live in? What’s the best part about living in your area?
Luke: We live out in Saint-Mande. We love it out here because we get to escape to the Bois de Vincennes to get back to nature, and we’re very well connected on the Metro (even though I Velib everywhere!)
Urban Mishmash: If I am visiting Paris for one night and looking to get away from the tourist trail, where would you recommend I go for dinner and a drink?
Luke: We are homebodies so I’m not too good with this one! Though we do like spending time around the Bastille and République areas for food and coffee.
Urban Mishmash: What is your favourite Paris discovery? What’s special about it?
That’s not really a “Paris discovery”, so for that we love the Bois de Vincennes. When I first came to Paris I never dreamed that there would be so much beautiful greenery so close to my house; you just don’t expect that from Paris. I head there all the time when I’m not doing the running tours to hit the running trails. It’s like pushing a reset button!
Urban Mishmash: What’s your ideal way to spend a free weekend in Paris? Is there anywhere you’d like to visit or explore that you haven’t yet?
Luke: Weekends are pretty popular for the Paris running tour, so I’ll normally spend the morning showing people around all the sights. The afternoons will invariably involve coffee and then we’ll make like the Parisians and “flâner”. Lately, we’ve been doing some day trips into Ile de France, places like Fontainebleau and Rambouillet, which are wonderful for a picnic or for hiking.
If you’d like to discover Paris on the run, join Luke on one of his running tours that start from Pont Neuf at 10 am, every Wednesday. All you need to bring are your running shoes and Luke will guide you through quite a few of the magical sights that Paris has to offer – Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, Les Invalides and even the Eiffel Tower (if you don’t mind a little extra distance!). But it’s not just about the ‘sightseeing’. The route also covers lots of lesser known gems on the Left Bank and in the Latin Quarter. To find out more about Luke’s free running tours, head to RunParis.fr or contact him through Facebook or Instagram.