Our ever reliable Lonely Planet guide confirmed that which I had already imbibed from my general research, the hippest locale in Paris is definitely not the Left Bank, for example, but the Canal St-Martin area. Even though we made it here and had a good walk along the canal, stood on the iron footbridges, watched boats make their way through the locks and generally hung out for a while we still missed walking over the Belleville but walking, walking, walking – by this stage of our Paris adventure we were beginning to appreciate sitting, sitting, sitting a bit more.
The canal’s construction was initiated by Napoleon both to bring fresh water to the city and to transport grain. Nowadays it dips below ground for long stretches finally surfacing at Port de l’Arsenal before flowing out into the Seine.
This area and its footbridges feature in the film “Amelie” which should give you a sense of the area. Many of the roads around the canal were closed to traffic by gates and as this was Armistice Day, which was a Public Holiday, we presumed that it was a deliberate policy to create pedestrian zones that could be reversed on normal workdays. It certainly made it very pleasant to stroll around. The only problem for us was that being a Public Holiday, about half of the shops, cafés and bars were closed. Still we were able to find a genuine creperie for lunch and watch some boats on the canal including one going through one of the locks. Given the short stretch of the canal here we were a little mystified as to exactly where the boats were coming from or going to but one thing was clear they were not of the narrow boat variety that we have become accustomed to in Britain as you can see from this picture. As usual I have loaded a small gallery of pictures of the canal. Below is a the scene at Port de l’Arsenal near Republique.