Updates Nov. 6 2023
Limpid water runs through.
The canal halves the quarter, with cafes, art galleries, and bars on both banks. Bridges loop over, and dangling limbs of deciduous trees and street art span down the length of the promenades.
Narrow roads zigzag between old stone buildings. Hidden passages lead to dives, and tables with locally sourced shared plates.
This is a neighborhood where Parisians stick their feet out, relax, and drink along the banks.
Runners and Bicyclists cruise around the canal in the AM; hooded teenagers huddle and smoke weed at night. The area is trendy yet breezy, and well located with Gare De L’Est to the North, Republique to the south, and Belleville to the east.
The creation of the canal dates back to Napoleonic times when the emperor built it to provide Paris with access to fresh water from the River Ourc. The canals played a crucial role as a shipment route for agriculture, as the surrounding areas were largely pastures and farmland at that time. However, as the city expanded and infrastructure replaced pastoral life, the canals lost their significance.
During the 1960s, the decaying waterways of France were planned to be paved over with cement. However, France later reversed this decision and preserved them. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, gentrification took place around the canals due to their low rent and proximity to the central hub, Place Republique.
This guide is a comprehensive breakdown of the neighborhood, in here you’ll find:
- Where to Eat near the Canal St. Martin
- Where to Drink near the Canal St. Martin
- Where to Party near the Canal St. Martin
Where to Eat Near the Canal St. Martin
If you’re there in the wee hours, a green swirled pistachio and chocolate escargot is a notorious pastry from Du Pain et Des Idees. Personally, I love their Pain Des Amis, an original country-style bread, which serves perfectly with Breton butter or slathered goat cheese.
Liberté, a new school boulangerie has an all-white facade and interior embellished with ruby red framboise croissants. Not your thing? Try a Pasteis from Don Antonia, a sneaky Portuguese bakery just across the canal. Still not your thing, grab a vegan banana chocolate cookie from Ima.
For laptop Café, this neighborhood has you covered.
Surrounded by dangling plants, books, and daylight, Radiodays, Ten Belles, and Caoua make a trifecta of cozy coffee shops to lounge, conduct meetings, or sip on a cortado. Buddy Buddy makes an interesting diversion with its nut butter lattes, and peanut butter cups.
My personal favorite is Residence Kann, a coffee and furniture dealer that styles its cafe with Hygge-inspired tables and decor.
Lunch and Dinner
On slow weekends, my favorite traditional brunch replacement is Lulu, La Nantaise, an incredible crêperie, steps from the banks.
Other favorites for quick bites are Bob’s Juice Bar, which excels in spirulina shakes and grain bowls with seasonal roasted vegetables, house-made hummus, and tahini. Surprisingly, the taqueria El Guacamole is one of my favorites in the capitol, and a fantastic vegetarian option, with their star, the cactus burrito.
At night, a myriad of restaurants open, this neighborhood specializing in contemporary French fare. If you’re feeling like a heavy, warm feast of French food, I’d reserve in advance at either Le Becan et Gaston, Les Enfants Perdus, or Les Vinaigriers.
Wine bars seem to inhabit every back alley of the neighborhood. Its sister cave, Les Enfants Gâtés is a snug little bar perfect for a tipsy commute to Gare de L’Est. The venerable Verre Volé is one of the original institutions and should also be RSVP’d. Newer editions to the canal are Åke and Early June, both romantic and youthful twists on the wine bar, small plates combination.
Where To Drink Near Canal St. Martin
The simple facade camouflages one of the city’s best cocktail dens, Gravity Bar. Upon entering, you sink into an interiors with a wave-inspired bar. The iconic Chez Prune and its UNESCO-level terrace are unmissable. Hype boys and girls, people in the arts, Europeans gather around.
For cheaper beer (not a joke), go to one of the canal’s convenience stores and drink a six-pack with friends along the banks. That would give you the most “local” experience.
Crossing the canal, on Rue Marie et Louise, Brigitte serves classic cocktails in a charming ambiance. A bit north L’Apostrophe and Chez Adel are some dim-lit dives with live music every Saturday and cheap drinks.
Where to Party Near Canal St. Martin
The centrifugal point in the neighborhood lies across the canal, tucked between two buildings. A barely lit path leads you to Comptoir General, an African nightclub fixed with palm trees and frighteningly strong Ti-Punches. Here you can dance as long as you want and split the ridiculously charged Planteur.
For a different kind of night, a place to schmooze or dance, depending on the vibe of the night, Le Cinquante is a neighborhood dive that can turn extremely rowdy. They have sing-alongs in a packed house every Sundayy.
Rue des Viniagres, Rue Lancry, Rue Lucien Sampaix, and the riverwalks create a web of nightlife and neighborhood gems, but on the right summer night, the banks turn alive, and the canal itself becomes the best place to party.
The 10th Arrondissement is my favorite, and the canal is one of a kind. It’s as if the two tastes of a Parisian and a New Yorker went on a Hinge date and had a baby.
A neighborhood can be many things; Chelsea and Soho have expensive, shiny objects that are fun to look at, but ultimately hollow; Harlem and Saint Germain Des Pres have an amazing legacy, both vastly different in content and culture; but it’s rare and personal, I believe, for a neighborhood to hold that power, which makes you not want to be anywhere else.
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