Trace the city's working-class waterways by boat, bike or on foot
Jacques Lebar / Paris Tourist Office
Before it harboured stalwarts of Paris’s nightlife, Point Ephémère and Chez Prune, the Canal St-Martin served an entirely different purpose: Built under Napoleon between 1805 and 1825, it brought drinking water and merchandise to the Imperial capital; then from the late 19th-century onwards it housed factories and industrial warehouses.
Nowadays, many of the factories have become lofts for Paris’s ever-growing Bobo (Bohemian-Bourgeois) population, and dozens of bars, restaurants and
- 10e/11e, Paris
After a gentle, 100km journey from the river Ourcq in Picardie, through the northern Seine-St-Denis suburb and into Paris via Porte de la Villette, the 19th-century Canal de l’Ourcq ends its journey in front of the arty MK2 cinemas at Stalingrad’s Bassin de la Villette. It was originally created by Napoleon to provide Paris with drinking water, but largely used for freight haulage before its edges were bestowed with some of the worst 60s and 70s housing in Paris. Nowadays, like the
- 19e, Paris
If hell is other people, Paris can be hell. Between jam-packed metros, long museum queues and hoards of sharp-elbowed tourists, the chaos can leave even the most fervent Paris fan in need of time out. Before you contemplate yet another trip to Versailles, captain of the canals, Canauxrama, offers an alternative escapade much nearer to home.
It’s nostalgic cruises, angled at Paris old timers, glide along the Canal Saint-Martin and the Canal de l’Ourcq at a blissful snail pace, heading
- 13 quai de la Loire, 19e, Paris, France