Whenever I’m meeting up with friends (often other fellow lomographers) in Paris the answer to the question of “Where should we meet?” usually ends up being, “Canal Saint-Martin”. In the summer, this is usually the answer about 95 percent of the time. Here’s why.
The Canal Saint-Martin is an artificial canal in the north of Paris (Metros: République, Jaurès, Goncourt and Oberkampf). It starts in the lock near Place de Stalingrad, at the port Bassin de la Villette (another very cool spot to hang out) and flows all the way to the Seine, ending at the Port de l’Arsenal. Between Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille, the canal is covered, so we usually hangout north of Rue du Faubourg du Temple. I haven’t done it yet, but am planing to take the boat that does the canal soon, specially since the 2km under the vaulted ceiling in near obscurity – except for some light that leaks through are supposed to be magnificent…
It’s most distinct feature is the beautiful iron bridges and locks. They have been showcased in many gorgeous pictures taken there:
Also, the best scene of the über-famous movie “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is wonderfully filmed on the Canal Saint-Martin.
One of my favorite spots on the canal is along the intersection of the Quay de Jemmapes with Rue Lancry, just near one of the famous locks and bridges. This is evident by the number of pictures I have taken more or less at the exact same spot:
Nearby, you have a few grocery stores that sell takeaway beer that you can sip while sitting by the water. Also, the ‘world-famous’ Pink Flamingo Pizza Place (67 Rue Bichat, 75010 Paris) is just around the corner and they deliver to the canal. Be ready for their funky pizzas named after personalities such as Björk, Basquiat, and Almodovar.
Another cool address is the Point Éphémère (200 quai de Valmy 75010 Paris) which is a bar, arts centre with regular exhibits, restaurant, and concert hall that hosts great DJ gigs. When the weather is nice, you can also take your drinks out to the canal.
Another great feature of the canal are all the interesting shops along it. A favorite is definitively the very cool Artazart Design Bookstore (83, Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris) which sells graphic design and photography books and magazines as well as cameras and film (Lomo, the Impossible Project, make-it-yourself-pinhole cameras, etc.) and is also a photo gallery.
There are many other cool addresses by the Canal, but the best way to discover them is to go and take a stroll along it.