Paris Travel Planner   Canal Saint-Martin, Paris, France
A leisurely cruise along a 19th century canal through many Paris neighborhoods provides great views of the city.




See Paris from the water while experiencing the rising and falling waters of the Canal's magnificent locks. The Canal St-Martin, until recently not an area frequented by tourists, offers a leisurely way to travel between the Port de l'Arsenal, near the Bastille, and the Parc de la Villette at the northeast end of Paris.

The canal trip lasts about 2 1/2 hours and includes an 18-minute journey through the tunnel (voute in French) built by Haussmann in the 1800s and extended in 1906. The tunnel is two kilometers long, punctuated by large, round openings that let in light and air. Think of the men who guided the boats through that long tunnel in the 19th century!

Just north of the tunnel you enter the first of four double locks. You watch the powerful waters filling the lock and raising the boat, until the upper gates open and the boat is ready to move on, always moving higher.

Along the route you'll pass under many charming iron footbridges, and be greeted by passers-by. You'll see residential and commercial areas, parks, and the Hôpital Saint Louis, built in 1607 and still functioning today. Turning bridges offer other interesting views, and the lock of the Recollets was made famous by Marcel Carné's classic film, Hôtel du Nord.

The Bassin de la Villette, a reservoir for Paris, is the northernmost point of the trip, and the boat passes by the Parc de la Villette, with its Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, offering a science museum, amusement park, music centers, and parks. At the Bassin, you will be about 25 meters above the level of the Seine.

Canal St-Martin, Paris, France

We took Canauxrama, which offers two departures a day (one in each direction) between the Port de l'Arsenal and La Villette. ParisCanal also includes part of the Seine, running between the Musée d'Orsay and La Villette.

Boat in front of Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Canal boat passes in front of the Musée d'Orsay on a day when the Seine was quite rough and high.

Métro: Bastille (Port de l'Arsenal) or Jaurès (La Villette) for Canauxrama. For ParisCanal, Solférino or Pantin.

RER: Musée d'Orsay (ParisCanal)

River Seine

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Parc de la Villette

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Canal St-Martin, Paris, France

Above, Canal St-Martin with the Bastille monument in the background.

Canal St-Martin, Paris, France
Approaching a lock.

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