Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Would Anybody Care to Skip Stones With Me?

The Canal St.Martin has always been a favorite haunt of mine. A lovely place to take a book & catch some alone time or meet up the gals & catch up! It stretches from the Square Frédérick Lemaître to the Rue Lafayette and shortcuts a long loop in the River Seine in the 10th arrondissement.

Napoleon had ordered the artificial waterway dug to supply Paris with water. The canal was opened in 1825, however by the 1960s, traffic had dwindled and fortunately the canal escaped being filled in and paved over for a highway. Today, the canal is covered from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille.

The canal is featured in the 1938 movie Hôtel du Nord, as well as one of my all time favorite movies, the 2001 movie Amélie, in which Amélie Poulain enjoys skipping stones at the locks of the canal.

In the spring and summer, locals flock to the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin to picnic and strum guitars. Cafés and quirky boutiques flank the water and iron footbridges. On Sundays, two streets running parallel to the canal, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists—perfect for renting a bike and seeing the city from a fresh angle. Another possibility is to take a tour of the canal by boat.

The canal and its surroundings were entirely reconstructed on set for Marcel Carné's 1938 film, Hôtel du Nord. Originally built in 1885 as a hotel serving mostly manual laborers, the Hôtel du Nord is now a bar and restaurant. A zinc bar, velvet curtains, low lamplight, and an upstairs library give the former hotel a distinctly 1930’s charm. It's just delicious!

Antoine et Lili is unmistakably the place alongside the Canal. It is a quirky fashion boutique whose bright yellow and pink facade is now an icon. Don't miss it for the latest in urban fashion and "ethnic" clothing. The "village" also includes a restaurant, bakery, and tearoom. It is defiantly a place to visit and take some photos.

If you look into the distance in the photo you can catch a glimpse of the Bastille angel.

There is much to see & do in this area if yo so choose. Along the Promenade Canal St. Martin one can enjoy a stroll along the water's edge while viewing amazing sunset's over the canal or linger over a coffee and a pastry while feeling that you are experiencing the true Paris. There is also the Musee de l'Eventail which exhibits a collection of more than 400 fans from the 18th century to the present day. A lot of eye candy there! Also check out the Palais des Glaces (Palace of Mirrors) features two comedic shows.

Or if shopping is your pleasure (as it is mine), then you may want to peruse
the Indian shops in le Passage Brady, which is a slightly dilapidated passageway. It's full of Indian and Pakistani restaurants, which gives it the nickname Little Bombay. My personal favorite, however, would have to be the Marché St-Quentin it offers a variety of goods from flowers and produce to antiques and candies. On the Rue de Marseille, you will find many chic clothing boutiques, and you’ll also find Du Pain et des Idées, one of the best bakeries in Paris.

I personally find it most beautiful in the Winter when the snow has fallen & the children are bundled up playing. It is beautiful all year round though.

Bisou Mon Amis!
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  1. What a beautiful post! Lovely descriptions and photos. I wish I could be there!!

  2. I'll skip stones with you, Judith!
    Great choice of pictures - I feel as if I visited there today! All the best,

  3. Oh Judith, How I wish I could go back!! Lovely photos, great post and a whirlwind of emotions about no longer being in Paris!
    How ever do you write so many wonderful posts filled with inside info? What's your inspiration? Your source?
    Bisous and Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Sadly... I never got to see this part of Paris... only in photos and Amelie... next time!


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