Bucolic Paris: the charming Saint-Martin Canal

Get off the beaten track in the historic centre of Paris and follow our guide for a bucolic stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin.

  • Location : Paris
  • Duration : 1h30
  • Access by Public Transport : Jaures metro station (line 2, 5)
  • Language : English

Bucolic Paris: the charming Saint-Martin Canal
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Discover the cultural and historical universe about this emblematic site of the City of Light.

From the Rotonde de La Villette, which marked the boundary of Paris at the end of the 18th century, to the Avenue de la République, the Canal Saint-Martin now flows in a picturesque and romantic atmosphere. 

Yet, it has not always been the case. Dig by order of Napoleon Bonaparte to bring clean water to Parisians (who were drinking water from the Seine river), the canal was first an intense industrial area. You'll discover that the canal was originally designed for public use, before serving as a resting place in the heart of Paris. 

With your guide, you'll discover the history of this little-known district and the canal that almost disappeared to make way for an urban motorway in the 1960s.

Your guide will take you to some old workshops and warehouses, and you'll enter the film set of the legendary "Hôtel du Nord", immortalised by Marcel Carné in 1938.

The guide will explain the canal's ingenious lock system to you, so you'll know all about how it works!

You'll meet the emblematic figure of Inspector Maigret, the central character in the detective novels of Belgian writer George Simenon, one of whose famous investigations takes place on the banks of the canal. First a novel character, it was then adapted for television.

Other key Paris landmarks await you: the Saint-Louis hospital, which dates back to King Henry IV, the Place du Colonel-Fabien, built on the site of a sinister gallows, the old Récollets convent, now a centre for artistic creation, or the left aisle of Gare de l’Est built in 1847.. 

These days, the Canal Saint-Martin is a popular place for Parisians to stroll, especially night owls who linger late on its banks in a festive or romantic atmosphere. Enter this calm atmosphere in the heart of this melting pot of Parisian life.

Come and take a breath of fresh air in the heart of Paris, with its authentic charm far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Your guide is from L'Echappée Belle, a company of guide-lecturers set up nearly thirty years ago. They offer a wide range of tours and walks in Paris and the Ile-de-France region. Their guides have a solid background in art history and know Paris inside out. Their tours are lively, full of anecdotes, and they make sure that every participant has a great time.

If you enjoy wander along parisian canals, take a look at our other visits about this subject on Explore Paris!


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