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St. Martin Canal Cruises

Le canal Saint-Martin

There's hardly a visitor to Paris who hasn't heard of the Seine, but the St. Martin Canal--a.k.a. le canal Saint-Martin--is a different story. Although it was built in 1825 as part of a waterway system that was ordered up by Napoleon Bonaparte, most English-speaking tourists have never heard of the canal--despite the fact that it connects to the Seine within walking distance of the Opéra Bastille and the Marais.

Le Canotier photo

ABOVE: A Paris Canal boat, Le Conotier, at its berth in the Parc de la Villette.

The St. Martin Canal is well worth a few hours of your time--both on foot and on an excursion boat of Paris Canal or Canauxrama, two companies that offer several departures a day in each direction. Of the two companies, we recommend Paris Canal, which includes a stretch of the Seine in its 2½-hour itinerary between the Musée d'Orsay in the 7th arrondissement and the Parc de la Villette in the northeastern corner of Paris.

During your cruise, you'll travel along a narrow canal, under old-fashioned pedestrian bridges, through a series of locks, and underneath the Place de la Bastille in a 19th Century barge tunnel. A live narration in French and English will describe what you're seeing, and you can explore the Parc de la Villette with its City of Sciences, Géode, and themed gardens before or after your trip.

For more information, see our Paris Canal directions and tickets page and our 25 captioned St. Martin Canal cruise photos.

Next page: Directions and tickets

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