The Canal Saint-Martin is one of the quieter, cooler spots in Paris. Quieter because fewer tourists know the area; cooler because of shade trees and iron footbridges along the banks and cafes and quirky boutiques along the streets.
The Canal Saint-Martin is nearly three miles long, connecting one of the city’s other two canals to the Seine. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction, which began in 1802, partly to bring water to the capital.
Locks such as this one enable boats to navigate the length of the canal and beyond.
A closer look at the lock.
During the 19th Century, nearly half the canal’s length was covered to create wide boulevards and public spaces on the surface. Today you can follow the canal, even through the underground vaults, by taking a tour boat such as this one from Canauxrama.
In spring and summer, locals stream to the area for a waterside picnic. In the evening, they strum guitars and spend lazy long hours here as dusk settles over the city.