(Bonjour. I am Lindy I have lived in the beautiful city of Paris since 2009, and I would like to share with you my personal top 10 things to do in Paris if you are visiting on a shoestring, or just if you want to get away from the madding crowd at the Eiffel tower!)
2 – Canal Saint-Martin
Anyone who has seen the Fabulous French film ‘Amelie’ (Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain), will remember the wonderful evocative moment when she skims stones from the gorgeous wrought iron bridge into the ‘Canal Saint-Martin’.I saw this film long before I had any connection with Paris, and the image captivated me. Imagine how excited I was when one of my places of work took me over that very bridge every Monday afternoon………
The Canal Saint Martin was one of Napoleon’s better ideas and was originally designed to bring fresh water into the overcrowded city in an attempt to stem the spread of dysentery. (up to this point citizens were drinking the water from the river which contained raw sewerage and disease was rife) And, along with the ‘canal d’orcqu’ and ‘canal Saint-Denis’, it supplied the numerous fountains throughout the city which provided drinking water, whilst also being decorative (Napoleon ordered the building of 15 new fountains and the restoration of others for this purpose)
The canal begins its journey near to ‘Place de Stalingrad’ and widens into ‘Bassin de la Villette’ (the largest artificial ‘lake’ in the city which links the canal saint-martin with the canal d’ourcqu) before finally reaching the Seine at ‘Porte de l’Arsenal’ Its construction took from 1802 -1825 and was funded by an increased tax on wine!
There are several stationary barges on ‘Bassin de la Villette’ which serve as bars, restaurants and music venues, and are lovely place to chill on a summer evening – but do not forget your mosquito spray!!!
The banks of the canal are lined in other places with quirky boutiques and both trendy and traditional café/bars. The most notable being the ‘Hotel du Nord’ made famous by the 1938 cult film of the same name, depicting the comings and goings of the residence of this small hotel situated just a little further along from the ‘quai de Jemmapes’ an easy stroll from Gare de L’est, and I often grab a quick coffee there on my way to work.
Although the Canal Saint-Martin is situated on the right bank of the city, it has a distinctly ‘Left Bank feel’. Still a popular haunt of students and lovers, it has a unique atmosphere that echoes a time gone by, which is what inspired me to take the selection of black and white photographs to reflect this. It is the place to take a bottle of wine, a baguette and a good book (and maybe your guitar) and just hang out with the locals……….