There's hardly a visitor to Paris
who hasn't heard of the Seine, but the St. Martin Canal--a.k.a.
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
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
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
For more information, see our
Paris Canal directions and
tickets page and our 25 captioned
St. Martin Canal cruise photos.