[Guide] Canal Saint-Martin: Walks, Cruises, Restaurants, Bars, Hotels

The Canal Saint-Martin is a place cherished by Parisians and less known by tourists. Very famous for its romantic and charming side, reminiscent of the old Paris, the many bridges and century-old trees surrounding the Canal Saint-Martin come together in a peaceful and relaxing scene. Perfect for all sorts of walks, whether it be for couples, families or just friends, the Canal Saint-Martin makes it easy to relax while enjoying a unique scenery in Paris.

Canal Saint-Martin
View of the Canal Saint-Martin

 

Walking circuits and crossing ways on the Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin starts from the North-East of Paris and goes on for 4.5 kilometers. It passes through the Canal de l’Ourcq, the Bassin de la Villette to finally throw itself into the Seine, at the Quai de la Rapée, close to the Pont d’Austerlitz.

You will find a lot of small shops, restaurants and bars all along the Canal.

You can move around the Canal Saint-Martin by foot or by bike, which allows you to enjoy the scenery in any conditions. Here are two walking circuits that we recommend to you for a calm stroll on the Canal Saint-Martin.

 

First circuit: From the Square Jules Ferry to the Bassin de la Villette

Start: Square Jules Ferry

End: Bassin de la Villette

Time:

  • around 30 mins by foot
  • around 10 mins by bike

Start from the Square Jules Ferry and walk along the Quai de Jemmapes until the Boulevard de la Villette.

All along, you will follow the Canal Saint-Martin until the Rotonde, located at Jaurès. Here, continue towards the Bassin de la Villette.

Take this opportunity to have a picnic on the grass, in front of the Bassin de la Villette, or to have a good meal in one of the restaurants around the area.

Bassin de la Villette Paris-Plage
First ever Paris Plage on the Canal Saint-Martin, during summer 2016. Credit: Lionel Allorge

In summer, the Bassin de la Villette transforms itself into Paris Plages: come get a taste of the summer holiday joys without travelling outside the capital!

This circuit is ideal for couples, who will surely enjoy the romantic atmosphere and the nature surrounding the Canal Saint-Martin. The charm of this haven of peace allows you and your significant other to take a break and have a tranquil stroll in the heart of Paris.

From here, you can head towards the 19th arrondissement and visit the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont; however, if you’re feeling a bit courageous, you can also extend your walk up until La Villette (at a 20 mins walking distance).

 

Second circuit: From the Bassin de la Villette to La Villette


Start: Bassin de la Villette

End: La Villette

Time:

  • around 20 mins by foot
  • around 10 mins by bike

Continue your route from the Bassin de la Villette, by following the Canal’s banks.

You will get to the Quai de la Marne: here, you are at a 6-minute walking distance from La Villette.

Cross the Place du Rond-Point des Canaux.

Go along the Galerie de La Villette street: you can’t miss the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the main attraction at La Villette.

Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Credit: Guilhem Vellut under Creative Commons 2.0

This circuit is perfect for family outings, as at the end you will have the opportunity to visit the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a fascinating place that will amaze your children after a long walk.

A bit further away you will find the Vill’up mall (website in French), where you will be able to go on a fresh shopping spree in the many stores and eat in one of the numerous restaurants.

Do not hesitate to do this circuit by bike, as there are bike paths reserved for this: this will make it easier for you to move and get to your destination faster.

 

See also: the pedestrian bridges on the Canal Saint-Martin

Passerelle des Douanes Canal Saint-Martin
Passerelle des Douanes. Credit: Moonik under Creative Commons 3.0

Take advantage of the many pedestrian bridges on the Canal Saint-Martin to cross over to the other bank and make your walk an even more picturesque experience. These bridges are perfect to take pretty pictures as a couple, with friends or as family.

In total, there are six pedestrian bridges dating back to the 19th century that allow you to cross the Canal via two staircases attached to the sides.

You also have the option to cross via two other bigger bridges and two swing bridges to get to the other side of the Canal.

 

 

Cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin

Paris Canal: a romantic escape, from the Seine to the Parc de la Villette

Paris Canal offers you two and a half hour cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin as well as on the Seine.

Between the Musée d’Orsay (Port de Solférino) and the Parc de la Villette (behind the My Boat (website in French) restaurant), discover the magical scenery of the Canal Saint-Martin aboard ship and let yourself go with the flow.

ecluses recollets
Écluses des Récollets. Credit: JLPC under Creative Commons 3.0

You will go through many locks, swing bridges and underground vaults during this cruise. It passes by the Parc de la Villette pond, as well as the Port de Plaisance of Paris. Like this, you will have the opportunity to take a look at many key or unusual monuments of the capital!

Enjoy the crossing of the Bastille underground vault, consisting of an unforgettable moment in itself. Pierced by skylights, this mysterious and magical place seems right out of a dream.

Paris Canal offers two circuits: one starting at the Musée d’Orsay and the other starting at the Parc de la Villette. The cruise connects those two points, so don’t hesitate to join in after breakfast or lunch.

This cruise is accompanied by an audio guide in both French and English.

Prices:

  • Adults: €22
  • Children (4-14 years old): €14
  • Children (under 3 years old): Free
  • Teenagers and Young Adults (15-25 years old): €19
  • Seniors (more than 60 years old): €19
  • Family offer: any booking of 2 adults/seniors + 2 children/teenagers or young adults gets a discount of €18 on the total price
  • Groups (more than 15 people): see Paris Canal’s website for more information

Schedule: The cruise runs all week. Here is the schedule from March 20 to December 15, as the cruise is not available during winter:

  • 9:45am: Departure from Musée d’Orsay
  • 2:30pm: Departure from Parc de la Villette

During peak season, extra slots are available:

  • 10:15am: Departure from Parc de la Villette
  • 2:25pm: Departure from Musée d’Orsay

Other activities offered by Paris Canal on the Canal Saint-Martin:

  • Guinguette Dinner Cruise
  • Marne Lunch Cruise
  • Boat privatization

Book your ticket here for the “Paris Canal” cruise

 

Canauxrama: a travel back in time to the era of the Old Paris

Canauxrama offers you their cruise of the Old Paris on the Canal Saint-Martin. For a duration of two and a half hours, you will discover the charm of the Old Paris, travelling between the Port de Plaisance Paris-Arsenal and the Parc de la Villette.

This cruise will also take you under the Bastille underground vault, and after this you will have the opportunity to see four double locks and two swing bridges.

Hôtel du Nord
Hotel du Nord view from the canal. Credit: Inocybe-Piero d’Houin under Creative Commons 3.0

Take a look at the notorious Hotel du Nord, a key spot in the famous eponymous movie by Marcel Carné. You will also have the opportunity to see the imposing pont levant de la Crimée during your cruise, to then arrive at the Parc de la Villette.

The cruise is also accompanied by an audio guide in French and English.

Prices:

  • Adults: €18
  • Children (4-12 years old): €9
  • Children (under 4 years old): Free
  • Group offers available

Schedule:

  • 9:45am: Departure from La Villette
  • 2:30pm: Departure from Paris-Arsenal

More information on Canauxrama’s website

 

 

Our selection of restaurants at the Canal Saint-Martin

After all this, you really deserve a good break. How about a meal in a restaurant with, as a bonus, a view of the Canal Saint-Martin? To start, here is our selection of restaurants at the Canal Saint-Martin.

Our recommendation: Siseng €€ – €€€

82 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

Siseng Bao Burger
Lamb Bao Burger, one of Siseng’s specialties. Credit: Siseng’s Facebook page

The Siseng restaurant is ideally located on the Quai de Jemmapes, in front of the Canal Saint-Martin. This way, you can enjoy a splendid view of the Canal during your meal.

This Asian fusion restaurant brings a breeze of freshness and will surely surprise you with their unusual Asian specialties: their famous bao burgers, accompanied by tasty sweet potato french fries, will please your taste buds.

The bao burger is the burger version of a steamed Chinese brioche, in which we find Asian-inspired sauce and food.

You can very well make it into a vegan burger, a lamb burger and more!

A really unusual pleasure to enjoy, with a beautiful opening on the Canal Saint-Martin in its prime.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4.5/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 4.0/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.6/5

Price: around €15 for a dish and a drink

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday: from 12:00pm to 3:15pm and from 7:00pm to 10:30pm

Facebook page

 

L’Hôtel du Nord €€ – €€€

102 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

Hotel du Nord Restaurant
Chicken breast marinated in ginger and coriander, served at Hotel du Nord. Credit: Hotel du Nord’s Facebook page

“Atmosphère! Atmosphère! Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère?” When it comes to the Canal Saint-Martin, how can we not mention the well-known restaurant made famous by Marcel Carné’s movie? Originally a hotel, it was built around the year 1912 by Eugène Dabit’s parents (Eugène Dabit being the author of the novel Hôtel du Nord, published in 1924), and this hotel is nowadays a café-restaurant cherished by the Parisians.

This 3-floor building still has its initial 8 windows and storefront. Right from the beginning, this small hotel with 40 rooms was loved by the regulars, who stayed here for weeks to enjoy the warm and family-like atmosphere here. It has been threatened with being demolished by many building permits but was saved by French cinema-loving Parisians. This is how the Hôtel du Nord was resurrected into a restaurant.

The current chef of the restaurant, Vincent Poette, offers a menu full of homemade specialties. This restaurant tastes like authentic, traditional French cuisine. For a brunch, a meal or to drink something, the Hôtel du Nord will always welcome you warmly, in the poetic and charming atmosphere reigning in the place.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 4/5
  • LaFourchette’s rating: 8.2/10

Average price of €35.

Opening hours: All week from 10:00am to 1:30am

Website & Facebook page

 

Le Pavillon des Canaux €€ – €€€

39 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

Le Pavillon des Canaux
The Dolce Vita dish served at Le Pavillon des Canaux. Credit: Le Pavillon des Canaux’s Facebook page

Le Pavillon des Canaux is a café-restaurant located at the end of the Bassin de la Villette. Come here to have a good time with your friends along with a cup of coffee, or alone to relax a bit in the pleasant and comfortable setting.

This establishment implemented a “coffice” concept, a combination of the words “coffee” and “office”, meaning that Le Pavillon des Canaux does everything in its power so that you can work on your laptop during your stay. Laptops are allowed all day, except during lunch-time (between 12:00pm and 2:30pm). It also organizes various events to allow you to meet new people and have a good time.

This café-restaurant serves you all day long, even during tea-time for the sweets-lovers! If you want a simple cuisine, fresh and full of love, then Le Pavillon des Canaux is made for you.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 3.5/5
  • Yelp’s rating: 4.5/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Price:

  • Dishes: between €9 and €15
  • Pastries: between €2.50 and €5

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Wednesday: from 10:00am to 12:00am
  • Thursday to Saturday: from 10:00am to 01:00am
  • Sunday: from 10:00am to 10:00pm

Website & Facebook page

 

Café Odilon €€ – €€€

16 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris

Café Odilon
A pizza served at Café Odilon. Credit: Café Odilon’s Facebook page

The Café Odilon is a Bohemian-style bar-restaurant, where you’ll have the possibility to taste organic or natural wines as well as their specialties: pizzas. This restaurant offers many recipes of pizzas, from the most classic to the most innovative, including of course offering vegan pizzas. It is possible to order pizzas to share with others, and you won’t be disappointed! The atmosphere here is relaxed and warm since it is frequented by many Parisians.

The bay-windows and the terrace of the restaurant that give a view of the Canal Saint-Martin make this restaurant a perfect place in summer, where you can drink a glass of wine or have dinner while enjoying the Canal.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4.0/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 4.0/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Price: around €20 for a pizza and a glass of wine.

Opening hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday: from 10:00am to 02:00am

Facebook page

 

Simonetta €€ – €€€

32 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris

Simonetta
The Zucca pizza served at Simonetta. Credit: Simonetta’s Facebook page

Simonetta is just like a piece of Italy imported onto the Canal. It is an authentic trattoria, with ovens and cooks all of Italian origin. The dishes are simple and tasty; this is what you should expect from dining at Simonetta.

The restaurant’s menu offers pasta dishes and pizzas, which are the stars of Italian cuisine. You will also have the opportunity to sip a cup of coffee and let yourself get carried away by its Italian notes.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4.5/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 4.0/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.5/5

Price: around €25 for a meal and a drink.

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: from 12:00pm to 2:30pm and from 7:00pm to 11:00pm
  • Friday: same schedule, but until 11:30pm at night
  • Saturday to Sunday: from 12:00pm to 11:00pm

Website (in French) & Facebook page

 

 

Our selection of bars at the Canal Saint-Martin

In the evening, it is even more pleasant to enjoy a glass on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin and to get a glimpse of the sunset reflecting on the water. Here is a selection of bars that we recommend to you on the Canal Saint-Martin.

Our recommendation: Paname Brewing Company €€ – €€€

41 bis Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

Paname Brewing Company
A dish served at Paname Brewing Company. Credit: Paname Brewing Company’s Facebook page

This bar-restaurant is also an artisanal brewery; beer-lovers will be pleasantly surprised by this establishment as it offers homemade beers, their brews being made by combining traditional techniques and modern technology.

On top of that, you can also taste “high-end” street food: don’t expect a simple burger and fries combo!

The atmosphere of this place tends to be casual, without any hassle, and it is decorated with second-hand furniture.

The difference between this unconventional interior and the presentation of the plates will blow you away: surprisingly, the plates are very delicate, diligently and freshly decorated by the chef.

Perfect to sip a drink, the terrace on the water will make you vibrate to the rhythm of the waves left by the passing boats on the Canal.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 4/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.3/5

Price: around €10 for a drink, €15 for a dish.

Opening hours: Open all week from 11:00am to 2:00am

  • Lunch: from 12:00pm to 3:00pm
  • Diner: from 6:30pm to 11:00pm

Website & Facebook page

 

Le Comptoir Général €€ – €€€

80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

Le Comptoir Général
Drinks served at Le Comptoir Général. Photo credits: © Antoine Gay

The unusual setting of this bar, with its bay-window and a small courtyard, will make you travel far away from the Parisian bustle in the time taken to enjoy a drink.

Decorated in a Carribean style, the exotic atmosphere of this bar makes you feel like you are on a vacation.

The music of the bar contributes strongly to this: here, everything is made to carry you far away.

Surrounded by a lot of plants, let yourself get away and enjoy a total escape, in front of the Canal Saint-Martin.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 3.5/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 5.0/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.2/5

Price: from €5 to €10 for a drink.

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Tuesday: from 6:00pm to 1:00am
  • Wednesday: from 10:00am to 1:00am
  • Thursday to Saturday: from 10:00am to 2:00am
  • Sunday: from 11:00am to 1:00am

Website & Facebook page

 

BarOurcq €

68 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

BarOurcq
The sun will even show up in your drink at BarOurcq. Crédit: BarOurcq’s Facebook page

The BarOurcq is a low-profile bar but very appreciated by regulars.

Indeed, they often meet up here to talk around a drink, relax on a deckchair on the bank of the Canal or even play pétanque! However, don’t worry, new people are warmly welcomed here.

The reasonable prices of the menu really make it a special place compared to the other bars in the area.

The warm and family-like atmosphere that is felt here will make it easy for you to relax and have a good evening.

  • TripAdvisor’s rating: 4.0/5
  • TimeOut’s rating: 5.0/5
  • Google’s rating: 4.2/5

Price: between €6 to €13 for a drink.

Opening hours:

  • Monday: from 3:00pm to 12:00am
  • Tuesday: from 11:00am to 12:00am
  • Wednesday to Saturday: from 11:00am to 02:00am
  • Sunday: from 12:00pm to 12:00am

Website (some informations available in English) & Facebook page

 

 

Hotels where you can stay at the Canal Saint-Martin

For those who would like to enjoy the Canal Saint-Martin’s scenery to the full, there are many hotels available around there. Here is a selection of hotels that we recommend to you so that your stay can be the most pleasant.

 

The Element Hotel ***

3 Rue D’Aix, 75010 Paris

The Element Hotel
The Element Hotel viewed from the outside

The Element Hotel is a modern and designer hotel, renovated entirely not long ago.

Located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, it is close to many notable sites such as the Place de la République, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont as well as the district of Belleville.

Of course, the most important thing is that it is very close to the Canal Saint-Martin, the latter being only 5 minutes’ walking distance from the hotel.

Room from The Element Hotel
One of the hotel’s romantic rooms

The rooms here are decorated with taste and refinement. For couples, you can enjoy the romantic double rooms offered by the hotel; bathtubs are furnished in the rooms to accentuate the romantic side of your stay at The Element Hotel.

You also have the opportunity to enjoy a breakfast in your room (service not included). There are also many shops and pastry shops around here.

The hotel is easily accessible: it is located at a 1-minute walking distance from the Goncourt metro station.

Prices: simple room starting from €50/night, double room starting from €80/night.

Access:

  • Metro line 11, Goncourt / Hôpital Saint-Louis station

More information (booking, photos) on The Element Hotel

 

Albert’s Hotel ***

22 Rue du Grand Prieuré, 75011 Paris

An Albert's Hotel room
One of the rooms at Albert’s Hotel

400 meters away from the Canal Saint-Martin, close to the Place de la République and the Marais district, the Albert’s Hotel welcomes you in this popular place of the capital.

Equipped with a bar, this hotel will know how to please you with a service offering you a continental breakfast in your room on your request.

The Diamond suite at Albert's Hotel
The Diamond suite at Albert’s Hotel

This charming hotel, decorated in a contemporary style, is made so that you will enjoy a relaxing and calming moment in the capital.

The Diamond suite offered by the hotel is perfect for couples searching for a romantic atmosphere: this one is in fact equipped with a sumptuous round bed, dimmed lighting and a “Cup of Tea” bathtub surrounded by a metal pearled curtain that will make it seems like you are bathing under the rain!

Prices: room starting from €59/night

Access:

  • Metro lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11, République station
  • Metro lines 5 and 9, Oberkampf station

More information (booking, photos) on the Albert’s Hotel

 

Hôtel du Nord et de l’Est ***

49 Rue de Malte, 75011 Paris

Bedroom at Hotel du Nord et de l'Est
A double bedroom at Hotel du Nord et de l’Est.

The Hôtel du Nord et de l’Est is settled in a calm street in one of the capital’s most popular districts.

5 minutes away from the Place de la République, close to the Opera and Bastille districts, you will have many famous monuments close to the hotel.

On top of that, at a 6-minute walking distance from the Canal Saint-Martin, it is the perfect place if you like walking around the Canal’s banks.

This hotel puts the comfort and well-being of its customers first. The rooms, decorated neatly and warmly, will make you feel like you’re at home. Breakfast is a service included when you book a room.

Around here, you will find many restaurants and shops, as well as easy access to public transports (metros).

Prices: rooms starting from €53/night.

Access:

  • Metro lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11, République station
  • Metro lines 5 and 9, Oberkampf station

Website

 

Libertel Canal Saint Martin ***

5 Avenue Secrétan, 75019 Paris

A room at Libertel Canal Saint-Martin
A room at Libertel Canal Saint-Martin

Located 300 meters away from the Canal Saint-Martin, the Libertel Canal Saint Martin is comprised of 3 buildings surrounding an inner courtyard. You will have a different view of the capital depending on the room you choose!

If you prefer a calm stay, set your heart on the Villa Cosi rooms that give a view of the inner garden.

If you want to enjoy a view on the Sacré Coeur, then the other rooms will know how to meet your expectations.

For breakfast, no worries, the hotel offers you a copious breakfast.

Here, you’ll be in the heart of a popular and lively district, but you can enjoy a peaceful break at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, close to the hotel.

Prices: rooms starting from €53/night.

Access:

  • Metro lines 2, 5 and 7B, Jaurès station

More information (booking, photos) on the Libertel Canal Saint Martin

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