Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

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On this visit to Paris we walked along the Canal Saint-Martin for the first time — starting at the Jaurès metro stop and then leaving it near the Place de la Républic (where the canal goes into a tunnel and then re-emerges after Place de la Bastille).

Along the way, the little derelict enclosed garden* above caught my attention. I found it touching and rather beautiful in its neglected state.

The canal was built between 1802 and 1825 to bring more fresh water into the growing city. Boats also transported grain and other materials.  Traffic declined after the mid- 20th century, and there was talk of paving it over in the 1960s.  Since 1993, it has been designated as an Historical Monument.

Today, the formerly working class, now gentrifying area is very picturesque, if still a little down-at-heel in spots. It’s definitely worth a detour from the more usual Paris sights.

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Above, Square des Récollets.

ADDENDUM: There’s an interesting video clip of the canal in 1926 here.

*It was at Rue Eugène Varlin and Quai de Valmy.

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