Offbeat Paris: A Guide to Paris’ Canals

While it hasn’t made too many appearances on my blog just yet, the 10th arrondissement, or the Canal Saint-Martin, is actually one of my favorite Parisian neighborhoods. Gritty, residential and tourist-free, there’s nothing I love more than the canals in summer, when everyone comes out to drink wine by the water, listen to music, smoke and soak up the sun.

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Unfortunately we chose to visit on a damp April day, but nonetheless the canals still held an ample amount of charm, from the iron bridges to the old men playing boules.

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We began our journey at the beginning of the Canal Saint-Martin (near République), then slowly wandered all the way up the canals to Bassin de la Villette, the largest man-made lake in Paris. This is an easy neighborhood tour- all you have to do is keep following the water.

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We stopped for lunch at Le Sésame and all three of us ordered the very non-French lunch of a bagel loaded with honey-chicken and avocado. (Unfortunately we had just missed Le Sésame’s famed brunch, which all of us savory breakfast-craving Anglophones were looking forward to noshing on.)

The sandwich was delicious, and I loved the American-esque menu which ranged from veggie-laden quiches to fruit smoothies.

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While it wasn’t the most French lunch, there were still bad coffee and handsome, impeccably dressed men- so not all was lost.

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And as it was my friends’ last full-day in Paris before taking the Eurostar back home, (boo!) we had to indulge in some pastries, right?

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Tarte aux citrons

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Amandine

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So if you want to see an artsier, more alive version of Paris, spend a lazy Saturday on the canals. And if it’s sunny, don’t forget a bottle of wine.

 

My other favorite things to do/see on the canals:

Du Pain et Des Idées 

Du Pain et des Idées is hands-down my favorite bakery in Paris which I’ve written about before. Come for the rustic Pain des Amis (bread of friends) or the mouth-watering and buttery escargot pastries, which change their filling depending on what’s in season. (My favorite is cassis and rhubarb though!)

[learn_more caption=”Where to find it:”] Du Pain et Des Idées 34 Rue Yves Toudic 01 42 40 44 52 (warning- closed for the entire weekend!)[/learn_more]

 

St. Christopher’s Inn

Also something I’ve written about before, St. Christopher’s Inn is a top-notch hostel located right on the canals. It’s perfect for the budget-conscious backpacker like myself, just make sure to book in advance.

[learn_more caption=”Where to find it:”] St. Christopher’s Inn (Canal location) 159 Rue de Crimée 01 40 34 34 40[/learn_more]

 

Hotel du Nord

Hotel du Nord is a splurge-worth restaurant located on the canals, where the classic, black-and-white French film Hotel du Nord was filmed. I still dream about the mackerel I dined on there a few summers back.

[learn_more caption=”Where to find it:”] Hotel du Nord 102 Quai de Jemmapes 01 40 40 78 78[/learn_more]

 

Have you visited Paris’ canals? What did you think?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

11 thoughts on “Offbeat Paris: A Guide to Paris’ Canals”

  1. What a nice thing to do, strolling down the canals, seeing and being part of the Parisian life! I am envious of the stroll, the sight-seeing and the food–especially the desserts.

    Love,

    Gamma

  2. Ah! I love le Canal St. Martin! When I was an au pair, my French class was right on the canal, so I had a picnic there almost every day. Your pictures brought back some wonderful memories! Don’t forget to skip some stones along the canal like Amélie near métro station Crimée/Riquet! :D

  3. Strangely enough, I’ve never actually been to the canals (I think…), but I think it’s mainly because when I lived in Paris I always lived in the 14th arrondissement, so that’s the quarter I feel a special affiliation with. Besides, Paris is just so big that I feel I could live there for ten years without knowing everything the city has to offer! I will keep this place in mind for my next Paris-trip! :)

    xx
    Melanie

  4. I’ve never associated canals with Paris but what a beautiful area. Despite the rain, it still looks like a wonderful way to see this part of the city. Love all the pastries you featured here. Not the best thing to see before going to bed :)

  5. When in Paris I tend to stay in the Marais and I’ve chosen REpublique as my place of choice – it’s so easily accessible. The Absolut Hostel is where I stayed and it was very nice.
    I’ve now gone wandering in the Canal St Martin area twice on the suggestion of my Paris guidebook (Paris Encounters), but it’s not yet appealed to me as much as I would have thought it would. Maybe it’s because I’ve been alone both times?

    • I think the company can definitely change your perception of the place- the canals though are a little bit bare for me, there are certainly areas of Paris that are more physically beautiful. I guess it’s the energy there, and they’re so fun in summer!

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