Explore a Paris hidden-gem: the Canal St Martin
When it comes to find Paris hidden-gems, good rule of thumb is to explore the Eastern part of Paris: from Parc de La Villette in the North to Bibliotheque Nationale de France in the South, there are lots of places enjoyed by local Parisians that you can enjoy too!
One of my favourite Paris hidden-gem is the Canal St Martin.
With the Seine river being so famous, people tend to forget about the two other waterways that run through (and sometimes underground) Paris: Canal St Martin and Canal de L’Ourcq. Built at the beginning of the XIXe century to bring fresh water, food and materials to Paris, their traffic did not survive the development of other mode of transportation and it was considered in the 1960’s that they should be covered and used as highways. Fortunately enough this did not happen and what used to be an alternative district (think Commercial Drive) has turned into a hip area among Parisians “bo-bo (bourgeois-bohemians – think Kitsilano). When I was living near Gare du Nord this was one of my favourite spot for summery Sundays.
Why I used to and still love to go to Canal St Martin when I’m in Paris:
To wander along the Canal.
The bridges, the locks and the trees make for a green scenery that one does not get this often in Paris. On Sundays Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes are closed to traffic which means you can stroll, bike or roller-blade all you want! Even when you’re there on weekdays traffic is never that busy, probably because the smaller streets leading to it act as a deterrent to cars.
To enjoy a beer at Le Jemmapes and dinner or brunch at Chez Prune.
Le Jemmapes is a small bar located 82, Quai de Jemmapes that specializes in Belgium beer. Because of its limited size, you can take your beer outside and drink it by the Canal (you will be provided with a plastic glass) – very cool.
For dinner or brunch, I like Chez Prune, 36, rue Beaurepaire. Be prepared to wait as it’s quite a popular place, yet it’s totally worth it especially if you end up landing a table on their patio where you can watch people and soak the atmosphere.
Main metro stations to access the Canal St Martin : Republique (5, 8, 9, 11), Gare de l’Est (4).
If you want to discover more hidden-gems and get fast-tracked to your Parisian experience, contact Your Voyage A Paris!