Portraits of Parisians along Canal Saint-Martin

Portraits of Parisians along Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin. What was commissioned by Napoleon I as a way to supply Parisians with fresh water to support the City of Light’s burgeoning population and to prevent diseases, has turned into one of the most relaxed ways to explore Paris from the comfort of a canal cruiser.

Comfort is key, because after awhile, your feet can really take a beating while wandering through the hard paved, picturesque streets of Paris.  But aside from being a comfortable way to explore the city, a Canauxrama cruise along Canal Saint-Martin gives visitors the perfect opportunity to observe Parisians while contemplating that certain je ne sais quoi that makes them so effortlessly cool.

Our cruise departed from Marina Arsenal near the Bastille
Before making our way out to the main part of the canal, we had to travel some distance underground

Parisian guys working out
This guy flexed his muscles for me when he saw me snapping his picture

Caveat: While we enjoyed having a few hours to leisurely drift through Paris while admiring the city and its people, we were a bit disappointed that the tour, though provided in English, was spoken by a guide whose thick accent made it nearly impossible to understand anything he said! Yet, towards the end of the cruise, our cruise captain’s voice lulled me right to sleep. Jave, who’s always on the lookout for the perfect opportunity to snap some unflattering photos of me, caught me in the middle of my mid-afternoon cruise snooze. So just keep in mind that if your ear isn’t attuned to thick French accents, you will likely not know which sites you’re missing out on while you pass them. Still, I recommend this cruise as a great alternative way to explore Paris.


Plan Your Visit

  • To book your cruise along Canal Saint-Martin with Canauxrama cruises, click here 
  • On certain days/times, cruises depart from Marina Arsenal Metro Station Bastille and cruise to Bassin de la Villette, and on other days/times the cruise departs and arrives in the opposite direction, so be sure to choose the best departure/arrival route that works for you
  • Cost: 17€ (adults); 13€ (seniors & students except weekends and public holiday afternoons); 9€ (kids 4-12); Free (kids under 4)



Have you cruised along Canal Saint-Martin? If so, what’s your favorite part of a canal cruise?

  • Your shots are once again excellent Dana! You made me miss Paris! Very authentic post… loved it!

    • Dana Carmel

      It’s always the highest compliment when you approve my Paris posts. Approved by a Parisian – works for me! 😉

  • This looks wonderful! What a great way to see a city and avoid the crowds. I’d love love love to go to Paris and this is just another great thing to add to my list there (after the food of course). Great post! Looks like so much fun.

    • Dana Carmel

      The cruise really is a lot of fun apart from not understanding the guide. I hope you get to do this canal cruise soon. Thanks for reading!

  • That underground tunnel part of the tour is so cool! I absolutely love people watching and what a great way to do this, take in the scenery and get some great photos. Ummm…did you fall asleep?? There are stop lights on the canal…how funny is that! You and KNOW which picture is far and above my favorite right, Dana??? 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Is it the pic of me snoozing, Mike?! 😉

  • Lovely images! I love the picture of you snoozing..hah hah! I love people watching…especially in Paris

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Kemkem! Lol – leave it to Jave to always capture me at my most unflattering moments! 😉

  • I only walked by Canal Saint-Martin the first time I visited Paris, but now you’ve inspired me to do this canal boat tour. It is awesome for people watching!

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes, Monique. Definitely put this on your to do list for your next visit to Paris!

  • Our boat tour had a thick-accented guide as well as a speaker that was all crackly. The canals really come alive with people at night (when we did our tour). It was amazing to me how many people hang out along the banks!

    • Dana Carmel

      I just figured that the company would try to hire guides with more understandable accents, but that’s clearly not a priority. Nevertheless, we had a good time.

  • Great shots! I love people watching, one of the best ways to pass time in my opinion 🙂 Can spend hours just observing and wondering what kind of life people lead and what they’re thinking about of talking about!

    • Dana Carmel

      Same here, Catherine! People watching is a great way to spend a few hours, especially in a city like Paris.

  • Looks like a hippie part of the city and the ride inside the tunnel with wells of light looks so magical … too bad you had to endure the thick French accent guide in addition to the lullaby captain

    • Dana Carmel

      Lol – I suppose the views along the canal were well worth the thick accent! 😉


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