Thursday, July 1, 2010

Exploring the Canal St. Martin

The Canal St. Martin is atmospheric, a lazy canal largely for barges and the occassional sight-seeing boat heading to and from La Villette in the 19th from the Seine in central Paris. The canal has lovely broad quais, increasingly hip shops and cafes lining its banks, arched footbridges, leafy small gardens and generally, an interesting ambience.

The Canal goes underground several blocks up Boulevard Richard Lenoir from Bastille and its last length to the Seine is through a softly lit tunnel. But mostly the Canal is a splendid walk for a lazy hour or two in a still very real feeling section of Paris.

Check out the classic Quay-side cafe Chez Prune on Quai de Valmy or have an excellent 14 E three course menu at La Marine also on Quai de Valmy at #55. (Menu weekdays only at 14 E). Across the canal, the Pouya Iranian Cultural Center is an intimate oasis for lovely spiced teas or saffron flavored icecream.

Bring your camera, walk and take time to settle in and enjoy this vibrant quarter centered on this charming canal. Best metro stops nearby are Jacques Bonsergent or Republique. This is the 10th arrondissement.