A trip along the St. Martin Canal


I signed up on-line to take an excursion on a canal boat through the St. Martin Canal in Paris. I received a very nice message from them confirming my reservation.

- Date : 12/09/2007
- Schedule : 14h30
- Boarding point : Marina Arsenal facing 50 Bd of Bastille 75012 Paris Station Bastille Exit Opera
- Total number of participants : 1

You have decided to pay your tickets on the cruise day :
Thank you to present you 15 minutes before the departure time on the boat. Your payment will be maken directly aboard by : cheque, cash or American Express card. Please note that the Visa and Master Card credit cards are not accepted.

Thank you for your interest in our cruises. Best regards.


Clearly they would be expecting me.

The trip starts near where the canal meets up with the Seine and travels north through the 11th and 10th Arrondissements, ending in the 'Bassin de la Villette.' I wanted to find out if this was something I'd want to do with my mother when she comes to visit next week.  I live in the 11th and walked to the Place de la Bastille, which is close to where the boat departs. I left home about 12:15 and arrived at the Place about 12:45. I walked then along the part of the canal that connects the Port de l'Arsenal with the Seine.


I noticed the canal boat across the canal from me marked with the name of the company 'Canauxrama.'


Actually there were two boats and I wondered if we would be taking the shorter (as in less tall) one because I knew there were some low bridges. They start out by going under the bridge in the left center of this photo and under the Place de la Bastille.  Anyway they both looked quite nice. Oh that big modern building in the center? That's the new Paris Opera house.


I walked to the end of the port area past all the private boats moored there. I had crossed that pedestrian bridge last week, so decided to go all the way to the road bridge this time, since I had plenty of time still. You can see the column in the center of the Place de la Bastille in the background.


I walked back up on the other side toward the Canauxrama boats, passing through this lovely garden. You can see the column again above the plants.


There is a cafÚ near the dock, (see it in the first picture?) so I sat and had a 'grand cafÚ noir.'  I usually order a 'petit' but I had lots of time, so I ordered a large one this time. (The large coffee in Paris is about 5 or 6 ounces. The small about 2.) I sipped the coffee and sat until 2:00, then went to use the restroom in the restaurant. It was at the foot of the stairs. There were 2 sinks and one hand dryer at the foot of the stairs  and 3 stall doors with tiny pictures on them--a wheel chair, a man and a woman. It was a sort of communal restroom, but very clean and new. At about 2:10 some people were standing near the boat ramp in the shade of a tree. I went over and took a spot in the shade too. I didn't want to have to stand in the sun, because it was quite warm. We all waited there for about 20 minutes. No one knew more than I did about the excursion. Finally about 2:35 one of the French women called the phone number for Canauxrama and was told that they were on strike and there was no departure that day. I heard her say "Well thanks for letting us know."


I had thought that the walk along the canal would be nice, so decided just to start out walking the route to see how far I would get. The boat was to take 2 1/2 hours one way. (It was a one-way trip.) I went back to the Place de la Bastille and around to Richard Lenoir, which is the road that follows above the canal. When I say above I mean directly above. The canal is below street level here. There is a park-like walkway above it. This photo is from the park in the middle looking out to the right. The other half of the road is to the left of the park. I walked through the park staying in the shade as much as possible.


Now I'm looking back still toward the right. See the metal cage? That is one of the 'skylights' of the canal below. The boats must pass under this garden, which continues for a long way-all the way through the 11th arrondissement--maybe a mile or more? There are gardens, play areas, market areas, 'terrains de boules' etc. all along the way, dotted with these metal 'sky-lights.' 


Here's a photo showing more of the walkway in this area.


Finally I came to where the canal comes out in the open. This is one of the many locks on the canal.


Looking back, again. Now the walkway follows along the side of the canal. I tried to spot the place where 'AmÚlie' (from the movie) skipped rocks on the canal, but I was never sure.


I ran into a British couple on one of the foot-bridges. She was getting ready to take a picture of her husband and I offered to take one of the two of them. Then she offered to take one of me.


I think this is the bridge where the previous picture was taken.


Another shot looking north again.


And then the canal gets wider and makes a big turn toward the east.


There's a high school near here and those are high school students on their break, I guess.


At the Bassin de la Villette the canal gets wider again.  See the Canauxrama boats waiting to make the trip back down to Arsenal?--but not today.


Another shot of the Bassin de la Villette.


Then I walked back through one more pretty park and to the metro stop and zipped back home to soak my feet.  :-)



For anyone who reads French here's a bit of history about the 'Bassin.'  In the years 1810, 16, 20 and 27 they ice-skated on it.