Paris

Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin is one of the most romantic spots in Paris, made famous by the film The Fabulous World of Amélie and loved for its vintage, relaxed atmosphere.

The Canal Saint-Martin stretches 4.5 kilometres in the heart of Paris and connects the Bassin de la Villette to the Seine. Romantic and chic, this district seduces with its authenticity and chic, relaxed atmosphere. As soon as the sun sets, Parisians and tourists alike flock to the quays to stroll or picnic on its banks, take a short cruise or browse along its streets full of fashionable addresses.

This delightful and romantic corner of Paris was almost unknown until a few years ago. It was the film The Fabulous World of Amélie Poulain that made it famous: this area, which has undergone urban redevelopment, has quickly become one of the most loved and frequented by young Parisians.

The Canal Saint-Martin is truly a magical place: the branches of the trees lapping against the water, the iron bridges, the locks, the vintage and record shops on both banks, the cafés and little restaurants that fill up at aperitif time, the street art and that unique atmosphere that only places much loved by people manage to convey.

The Canal’s surroundings have also very quickly become more genteel, with the arrival of a wealthier population and a new generation of artists who have transformed the old artisans’ lofts into luxury residences.

Things to do along the Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin was commissioned by Napoleon in the early 19th century. The canal was opened to the public in 1825 and was used to bring drinking water to Parisians and transport goods. It is considered one of the most important examples of Napoleonic engineering in France and is now a protected heritage site: it retains all its charm and over the years has become an emblematic place in Paris, representative of the city’s industrial architecture.

In fact, along its 4.5 km, 2 km of which are underground, you can admire 4 bridges (2 fixed and 2 revolving), 5 beautiful cast-iron footbridges and 9 locks, from which you can admire wonderful views of the most picturesque corners of Paris. The Canal Saint-Martin locks and swing bridges are a real sight to behold, with their industrial architecture and working mechanism.

A walk around the two parallel pedestrian streets, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, is also a must, to throw pebbles like Amélie or sit and admire the people passing by. The walk that awaits you is absolutely unmissable and will immerse you in the most romantic Parisian atmosphere.

The Amelie Poulain Bridge

1Canal Saint-Martin, Paris, France

The starting point of the canal is also one of the corners of Paris made most iconic by the world of cinema.

In fact, it is from one of the cast-iron walkways at this spot that the protagonist of The Fabulous World of Amélie Poulain casts her pebbles on the calm waters of the canal.

Point Éphémère

2200 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris, France (Website)

On Quai de Valmy, you can visit Point Éphémère, an art centre where concerts, exhibitions, meetings and lectures mingle, all with a small catering offer and a terrace with deckchairs in summer. An unmissable address on the Canal.

La Rotonde Stalingrad

36-8 Pl. de la Bataille de Stalingrad, 75019 Paris, France (Website)

Once at the end of the canal, cross the intersection and head towards the Rotonde de Stalingrad to reach the Bassin de la Villette on the Quai de la Seine.

The Rotonde was one of the barriers of the Fermiers Généraux wall that demarcated the borders of Paris until 1860. La Villette was then just an adjoining village and this barrier allowed taxes to be collected on goods imported into the city. Today the building houses a gallery, a terrace and a restaurant.

Le Bassin de la Villette

475019 Paris, France (Website)

Take a few moments to admire the beautiful view that seems to stretch endlessly to the Parc de la Villette. This is where Parisians come to play pétanque, table tennis, run or work out on the outdoor sports equipment, before gathering for a drink in one of the bars that line it.

Explore the area on foot or by hiring a small speedboat. In summer, a swimming pool is set up here as part of the Paris Plages operation : you will find deckchairs and parasols, numerous events and temporary installations.

The Bassin de la Villette is the largest artificial body of water in Paris. When it was built in 1808, it served as a drinking water reservoir for the city before it developed into a busy commercial activity.

Centquatre-Paris

55 Rue Curial, 75019 Paris, France (Website)

If you turn towards rue de Riquet and rue Curial, you will come to the Centquatre-Paris. This is a centre for cultural cooperation, installed in the building of the former Municipal Funeral Service built in 1874.

The building, in a fabulous industrial style, is characterised by charming windows and finished in brick, cast iron and iron, like the large stations of Orsay or Lyon. With their immense size, equal to that of Place de la République, the two large halls host exhibitions, workshops, art competitions, a bookshop and cafés.

It is therefore not uncommon to come across salsa dancers, acrobats or even circus artists taking advantage of the large space and beautiful light to meet and train.

The Ourcq Canal

6Rue de l'Ourcq, 75019 Paris, France (Website)

Returning to the basin, cross the bridge and continue your walk on the opposite bank of the Ourcq Canal, along the Quai de la Marne.

Like the Bassin de la Villette, the quays are a favourite leisure spot for Parisians, ideal for a picnic. Take a short diversions into the heart of the neighbourhood to admire some of the best street art in Paris. Don’t miss rues de l’Ourcq and rue Germaine Tailleferre, which are favourite haunts of local artists.

Parc de la Villette

7211 Av. Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France (Website)

From the canal, you will be at the Parc de la Villette in a few minutes: at 55 hectares, it is the largest green park in Paris. It stands on the old slaughterhouses of the village of La Villette, annexed to Paris in 1860.

This huge space has 3000 trees, large lawns, theme gardens, an orchard, beehives, but the real strength is the diversity of attractions: performance halls, museums, cinemas playgrounds and the City of Science and Industry.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin

An alternative way to explore the area is to take a boat cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin.

The experience on the Canal Saint-Martin is very different from the classic cruises on the Seine: they take place on small, low boats that are less comfortable and have limited on-board facilities. The navigation times are also much longer: the barges have to overcome the differences in height between the canal and the Seine, using mechanised locks. This results in very long technical waiting times.

Only two companies operate tourist cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin: Canauxrama and Paris Canal. Canauxrama‘s cruises depart from Port del’Arsenal or Port de Plaisance de Paris, at the beginning of the canal, near Place de la Bastille and last from 2 hours 30 minutes to the Parc de la Villette, to a full day, continuing the navigation to the banks of the Marne, at Bry sur Marne.

The cruises proposed by Paris Canal, on the other hand, include an initial part on the Seine (departure from the Musée d’Orsay), following the classic itinerary with views of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre and Notre Dame, and then continuing along the Canal Saint-Martin to the Parc de La Villette, for a total duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

How to get to Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin runs through the eastern districts of Paris, the 10th and 11th arrondissements, and is easily reached using the metro: lines 2, 5 and 7, Jaurès station or line 11, Goncourt stop.

Where is located Canal Saint-Martin

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