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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.
Its 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 underground before resurfacing to go by four locks, and under the elegant footbridges Amélie sat on in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film Amélie Poulain.
Film buffs might also recognize the names of the boats - Arletty and Marcel Carné - respectively named after the leading lady and the director of the 1938 French classic Hôtel du Nord, also filmed along the canal. If you can’t get enough of it all, sign up for a day’s cruise (May-Sept) along the sleepy River Marne to Guinguette capital Joinville-le-Pont where cheesy accordion music awaits in riverside cafés. Standard cruise departure is from either Bastille’s Port de l’Arsenal (opposite 50 bd de la Bastille) or Parc de la Villette.