The Canal and the Coulée

As cities go, Paris has a lot of parks for which it is known – the Jardin des Tuileries, the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Champ de Mars to name just a few. But there are many other green spaces that are less well known, two of which I explored this week.

You think of Paris and you think of the river: the Seine, which runs through the city. But on the eastern side of the capital there is also the Canal Saint-Martin. Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802, in order to create an artificial waterway that would supply Paris with fresh water, support a growing population and help avoid diseases such as dysentry and cholera.

I profited from some sunny Easter Monday weather to take a stroll along the canal, which is very pretty and dotted with bars, cafés and restaurants. I was also there on Friday evening, when the atmosphere was quite different but the weather equally pleasant. While during the day the canal attracts those who are out for a walk or a picnic, in the evening it is buzzing with people who come with wine, beer or something stronger and spend a few hours drinking on the waterfront.

The other green space I explored this week is the Coulée Verte (also known as the Promenade Plantée). Inaugurated in 1993, this is a 4.7 km elevated park built on top of a disused railway that begins just east of Bastille and runs out to the Périphérique.

Again, I chose to walk along the Coulée Verte because the weather was so good and I was not disappointed. Not only is it picturesque (especially at this time of year when all the trees are in blossom), but as it is elevated you get great views of the city rooftops.

I walked all the way along the tree-lined walkway to Bastille, which just happens to be a good spot to enjoy…the canal!



About sjduncan2014

After graduating in French and Italian, I moved to Paris with neither a job nor a home to speak of. This blog charts the progress I have made, as well as thoughts, comments and observations on all things French.
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