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A little pocket of fresh air

August 3, 2011

With its high-arched footbridges,  chestnut trees, locks, small cafes and colorful boutiques, the 4.5 km long Canal Saint Martin in the 10th arrondissement is without doubt one of the most tranquil and pleasant neighborhoods in Paris.

Located just north of the Marais, between Gare du Nord and Republique, the canal begins at the Bassin de l’Arsenal. It then continues underground at the Bastille Square and re-emerges not far from the Place de la République. From there it leads north towards the Bassin de la Villette.

 The canal was built in the early 19th century to supply Paris with food, fresh water building materials, and other goods, carried on boats.  At the time, the district was mostly occupied by working-class laborers and landmarks from that period, such as the Hotel du Nord made famous by Marcel Carné’s 1938 film of the same name, can still be admired. Today, however, the tree-lined Canal has becomes a trendy place which draws joggers and walkers, especially on summer evenings or on Sundays when the Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes are open only to pedestrian and bike traffic.

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