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Rivers and canals: waterways in and around Paris

Posted on June 26, 2019 by Hailey in

The Seine-et-Marne department is crossed by many waterways from both sides of the Paris region. This is undoubtedly in part what gives the city of Paris all its charm and legendary romanticism. Discover the places to visit, walks and activities to do along these rivers that have inspired many painters…

Walks along the water in and around Paris

The Seine, the mythical river of the Paris region, flows through the city of Paris to the pleasure of passers-by who are delighted to take advantage of the soothing setting to wander around. There are many possible walks along the banks of the Seine. On foot or by bike, Parisians and vacationers love to stroll along the Seine and cross its bridges full of history. On the water, several unusual cruises offer a sometimes unknown face of the capital. During the day, at sunset or at night, the crossing reveals a breathtaking scenery. Barge restaurants also offer lunch or dinner on the Seine for a romantic and moving moment.

The Saint-Martin canal, flowing in the heart of the 10th and 11th arrondissements of Paris, is a major tourist attraction in the capital. Many people come to discover the beautiful scenery of this canal. Walks are relaxing there, with family or friends.

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Canal Saint-Martin …balade bucolique.

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The Ourcq Canal allows visitors to take an extraordinary boat trip. Leave your daily stress at home and board a horse-drawn boat. From the basin of La Villette, discover the canal de l’Ourcq to the rhythm of the draft horse’s steps for a moment out of time. Horse-drawn carriage is an ancestral technique of river navigation that Parisians and vacationers are happy to discover in the sunny days.

For an autonomous crossing, it is possible to rent a boat with or without a permit to sail on more than 40 kilometers of waterways, crossing the Villette basin, the Saint-Martin canal and the Ourcq canal.

Finally, for the more sporty, the crossing of the Seine-et-Marne rivers can be done by kayak on the Ourcq canal for an getaway far from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Waterfront activities

On the banks of the various Parisian canals, several activities are possible for outdoor afternoons. It is not uncommon to meet picnickers enjoying a moment with family or friends over an impromptu meal. 

On the banks of the Marne and the Seine, the famous Guinguettes also have their place. Symbols of the region, the guinguettes delight their visitors with a delicious dish of French fries and mussels and a good glass of wine. In the heart of popular Paris, the guinguettes offer a traditional cuisine and a return to the roots. Rendez-vous for a dancing atmosphere to the sound of the accordion in a folk atmosphere, where authenticity and joy of living soar.

The Parisian canals: muses of great artists

Paris and painting have been closely linked for centuries. These mythical canals have often been the object of inspiration for impressionist artists. The Saint-Martin Canal was the muse of the famous artist Alfred Sisley, a lover and specialist in landscape reproduction. He chose the canal as inspiration for four of his paintings, including “Vue du canal Saint-Martin“, a famous painting exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay, reproducing the canal and its passers-by. Today, many street artists enjoy reproducing the reflections of greenery on the stagnant water of the Parisian canals. 

The Parisian rivers have also inspired French music. Edith Piaf sang “Les mômes de la cloche” along the Saint-Martin canal. The famous film Amélie Poulain was also shot there, as well as Mission Impossible with renowned actor Tom Cruise.

The banks of the Seine also welcome the famous booksellers of Paris: an invitation to reading and an ode to poetry and imagination, in this effervescence that is unique to the City of Light.

As you will have understood, the Parisian canals offer magnificent scenery that plunges visitors into a relaxing atmosphere and are essential places for vacationers passing through the capital. 

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