A leisurely walk along the Canal Saint-Martin
Category Visit Paris
Built in the early 19th century, the Canal Saint-Martin originally brought fresh water to the rapidly growing Parisian population. It was also used to transport food, construction materials and other goods. Although it was an essential factor in the development of industry in Paris until 1950, today we tend to forget its utilitarian origins. This picturesque waterway is now one of the favourite places for Parisians and visitors to stroll and cruise. The Hôtel des Tournelles warmly recommends taking a leisurely walk along its 4.5 km length.
A brief history of the Canal Saint-Martin
The Canal Saint-Martin connects the Bassin de la Villette to the Port de l’Arsenal. The construction of the waterway was decreed by Napoleon 1st in 1802 and the project was carried on by Louis XVIII during the Bourbon Restoration and finally completed in 1825. Baron Haussmann had the canal modified as part of his urban renovations of the capital. Some 2 kilometres was covered over to allow the construction of the Boulevards Richard Lenoir and Jules Ferry. From 1950, the evolution of road and rail transport led to a decline in the use of the canal, putting an end to the activity of most workshops, factories and warehouses along its length. However, the following decades saw several successive periods of redevelopment, making the Canal Saint-Martin what it is today; a place of leisure much appreciated by Parisians.
Relaxing by the Canal Saint-Martin!
The Canal Saint-Martin and its banks now constitute a trendy, eco-friendly, ethnically diverse environment where the locals like to get together for a family outing or an improvised aperitif with friends. If you’re looking for a little relaxation, a mini-cruise and the unhurried rhythm of the canal traffic could well bring you all the peace and escape you need. You’ll learn many things along the way and be reminded of the settings of some cult films of French cinema. Passing through the locks and under the bridges adds to the fun and cruising through the tunnel beneath the Parisian streets is an atmospheric experience not to be missed.
Or perhaps you’d prefer to take advantage of the sunshine and have a picnic. The banks of the canal certainly offer the perfect setting for such a delicious occasion. However, if a drink with friends, or a lunch or dinner in convivial surroundings is more your speed, along the quays you’ll find many fine restaurants and appealing cafes such as the Chez Prune, a popular Parisian aperitif rendezvous. World cuisine is in the spotlight along the Canal Saint-Martin, too, including French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Scandinavian and even Korean. The choice is immense!
Who said pétanque is only popular in the South of France? There’s no shortage of enthusiasts in Paris and you could well come across a game in progress while strolling along the banks of the Canal. Try your hand!
Hotel Les Tournelles, a 3-star hotel in the heart of the Marais