Atypical cruises to discover the magic of the parisian canals

Discover the charm of a cruise
by the canal Saint Martin


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Canal Saint Martin : A Unique Parisian Expérience

Strolling along the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris with people relaxing on the banks under lush green trees.

When visiting Paris, there's no shortage of remarkable activities and sights to explore. Among the top things to do in Paris, a visit to the Canal Saint Martin offers a unique blend of history, culture, and leisure. This guide will help you discover the charm and allure of this picturesque canal, alongside other notable places to see in Paris.

Exploring Canal Saint Martin

Footbridge over the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, surrounded by trees and buildings, with a perfect reflection in the calm water.

The Canal Saint Martin is a tranquil waterway that stretches through some of Paris's most vibrant neighborhoods. This area, rich in history and local culture, offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. As one of the top things to do in Paris, walking along the canal provides a perfect opportunity to experience the authentic Parisian lifestyle.

The Cruises: A Must-Do Activity

Bank of the Canal Saint-Martin at night, near Place de la République.

The Canal Saint Martin links the Bassin de la Villette to the Seine, featuring nine locks and a 25-meter descent. Enjoy our exclusive Seine River boat cruise starting from Canal Saint Martin, passing through the historic Bastille vault. This unique journey is one of the top places to see in Paris.

Discovering the Saint Martin's Area

The Pavillon des Canaux, a riverside tavern by the canal, a must-visit spot at the Bassin de la Villette.

The area around Saint Martin's is bustling with life. Known for its eclectic mix of boutiques, cafes, and bars, it’s a hotspot for both locals and tourists. Visible from the canal or not, this St Martin Paris district is packed with hidden gems and popular attractions, making it one of the best places to see in Paris.

Historical Insights on St Martin Paris

Canal St Martin in the film

St Martin Paris boasts a rich history dating back to its construction under Napoleon I in the early 19th century. The canal was initially built to provide fresh water to Parisian residents. Today, the St Martins Canal stands as a testament to the city’s innovative spirit and remains a popular destination for both historical tours and casual strolls.

The Engineering Marvels of Paris Canal Martin

Engineering Marvels of Paris Canal Martin

A visit to the Paris Canal Martin wouldn't be complete without marveling at its canal locks and bridges of Paris. These impressive structures not only facilitate the canal’s function but also add to its scenic beauty. Watching boats navigate through the canal locks is a fascinating experience that captivates many visitors. One of the most unique and unforgettable experiences is passing through the historic Bastille vault, an iconic highlight that makes any trip along the canal truly special and a must-see when visiting Paris.

Boat Trips and Tours Along Canal St Martin Paris

To fully appreciate the charm of the Canal St Martin Paris, consider taking a boat trip in Paris. Various operators offer comprehensive Saint Martin tours, guiding you through the canal’s history and its significance to Paris. These tours often include stops at notable sites, providing a deeper understanding of the area.

Top Tourist Activities Around Canal Saint Martin

Early evening along the Canal Saint Martin, a lively neighborhood.

Around the Canal Saint Martin, there are numerous tourist activities in Paris to enjoy. From leisurely walks along the canal’s paths to picnics in the adjacent parks, the area offers a variety of ways to relax and immerse yourself in Parisian culture. The canal’s picturesque setting is ideal for photography and simply soaking in the ambiance.


The Canal Saint Martin is a quintessential part of the Parisian experience, offering a unique blend of historical significance and modern charm. From boat trips in Paris to exploring the popular places in Paris around the canal, there’s something for everyone. Make sure to include this enchanting area in your itinerary and enjoy the best that Paris has to offer.

A cruise on the Canal with Canauxrama

By day or at nightfall, a cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin is an out of ordinary experience which will lead you off the beaten track during your stay in Paris.

Iconic footbridge of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, with people crossing and lush green trees in the background.

By day or at nightfall, a cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin is an out of ordinary experience which will lead you off the beaten track during your stay in Paris.

View from a boat on the Canal Saint Martin in autumn. A person on the footbridge over the Récollets lock. Discover all Canauxrama cruises on the Canal Saint-Martin. Board the boat at the charming Arsenal Marina, located below the Bastille square and its opera theatre. You will slide through the mysterious Bastille vault where the light is magical! You will pass under the "Colonne de Juillet" (July Column), topped with the "Génie de la Bastille", symbol of freedom, and under its crypt, where a mummy - brought back by Napoleon - is still buried. You will arrive at the first lock: the Temple lock. The doors of the lock slowly open and give way to this bucolic canal.

Quietly, go on with your cruise, after the two swinging bridges: from the rue Dieu to the rue de la Grange aux Belles, you will approach the Récollets lock, made famous by the film "Hôtel du Nord" by Marcel Carné. Through the foliage, you will be able to glimpse the Hôtel du Nord, which has become a popular Parisian restaurant.

Your cruise slowly goes on along the water, where the trees are reflected, inspiring painters such as Alfred Sisley. You slide along the Villemin park and the old Récollets convent, which shelters nowadays the Café A – bar, restaurant, artists’ residence, concert venue, exhibition hall. Then, you will pass through the third and penultimate lock of the Canal Saint-Martin, the lock of the Deads, which was named so because of the presence of a nearby old Merovingian cemetery as well as of the Montfaucon Gibet, the favorite gallows of the French kings for several centuries.

You will go through the last lock of the Canal, the Jaurès lock, located next to the old road to Germany, the actual Avenue Jean Jaurès, which saw Louis XVI trying to flee towards Varennes and then Napoleon coming back victorious from his campaign in Prussia. After this lock, you will discover the Bassin de la Villette, a place to relax for Parisians at the beginning of the 19th century, who practiced nautical activities or even ice-skating. They would attend the famous "guinguettes", cabarets where a little white wine named "guinguet" was enjoyed! With the coming of the industrial era, the Bassin de la Villette became one of the first commercial ports of France.

With the years, the different industrial buildings which are lining the basin, have all been renovated: Ledoux Rotunda, an old toll-house, has become a trendy bar and restaurant. Two arthouse cinemas moved into the old warehouses, constructed from parts of the Pavilions of the Universal exhibition of 1872, whose creator was Gustave Eiffel. The former general stores - which flank the one-hundred-year-old drawbridge of Crimée – have been transformed as well. One of them shelters an ecological hotel, a hostel, a restaurant and a bar. The second one welcomes a student residence, the water sports centre of the city of Paris, as well as a brasserie with a floating terrace: the Paname Brewing Company, which makes on the spot an excellent handmade beer! Barges, which used to transport goods, are now moored all year round in the Bassin de la Villette and have been turned into a theatre, a concert venue, a bookshop, a bar or a restaurant.

The boat slides slowly along the Saint Jacques-Saint Christophe church, located in the former village of La Villette where vineyards were cultivated and which produced the "Guinguet"; before reaching the "roundabout of the canals", as this is the junction of the three Parisian canals: the Canal Saint-Martin, the canal of the Ourcq river and the Canal Saint-Denis.

You will arrive then in the Parc de la Villette, the biggest park of Paris with its 55 hectares, created in place of the former slaughterhouses of the city of Paris and crossed by the canal of the Ourcq river. You can visit there: the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, museum dedicated to scientific culture, or the Musée de la Musique. Or else, you can go to the circus, to the theatre (Tarmac or Théâtre Paris Villette), or to see a concert – three venues are located there: the Zénith for rock music, the Trabendo for electro (and where the Rolling Stones performed recently). The last one to have settled there - as part of the Grand Paris project - is the Philharmonie, dedicated to symphonic music. The cinema is at honour with the Géode, a film theatre whose hemispherical screen is 1000 m2 big. Each year, an open-air cinema settles on the lawn lining the Grande Halle, where are organised concerts and exhibitions. The gardens are also the place of annual cultural events: the Festival Villette Sonique, Jazz à la Villette...

The Parc de la Villette marks the end of your cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin. Along the water and through the locks, fascinating pages of the history of the city of lights and the hidden Paris of the Parisians have been revealed to you!

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