Monday, March 21, 2005

Up a Canal

For Sunday, we reserved five places on the Canal St. Martin boat ride. There are two boat rides a day, at 9:45am and at 2:30pm. We got up early and took the morning ride along with our son’s best friend.

The boat was pretty full. There were about 100 people aboard and yet only 6 or 7 children. Our ride began at the Paris Marina Arsenal and ended at the Parc de la Villette. Like the other Paris canals, Saint Martin canal was built by order of Napoleon I in the early 1800’s. It is 4.5 kilometers long. The ride lasts 2 1/2 hours and takes you through 4 double locks.

It was a beautiful day. The first 18 minutes we rode through a tunnel or underground vault and then we were in the sunshine for over two hours. We should have brought sunscreen and sunglasses. The ride takes you past some interesting sights of Paris, nothing well known, but certainly a different side of the city...places I might want to go to sometime... like Quai Jemmaps. We were surprised that on nearly each bridge of passage, people were waiting for the canal boat to come through. The people were ready with cameras as the boat was secured in a "lock" and enough water was added until we could proceed to the next lock.

The kids loved the first 9o minutes. They loved watching the water fill up in the lock until the boat rose to the next level of passage. There was certainly a lot of action. But the boat was filled with mostly adults. I'm not sure what they thought of the ride. The boat company does hand out a nice little pamphlet of the different locks on our route and some of the history of the places we pass.

This place looked so interesting... Quai de Jemmaps??

The canal ride ends at Bassin de la Villette. We got off and headed straight to Parc de la Villette. There is a wonderful, very large playground area for kids of all ages. The kids played there for a couple of hours with a break for lunch. There is also a very fun science museum for the kids here, but we didn’t go yesterday. A very enjoyable day.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
7:22 PM




Thanks for the textual and visual post card of your trip up the canal. I spent a wonderful day having a leisurely bike ride along this same canal in 1999, or 2000, with my friend (and your fellow expat) David. It was spring and the weather was a bit cool, but the sun was out and this made for perfect biking conditions. So, as I sit here at my desk in gray, damp Detroit, I'm wistfully thinking about the budding green of Paris, and friends and family there. Ciao!

# posted by Rocher Detroit : 8:23 PM  

I took my son to Home Depot and Target yesterday. A very cultural experience, indeed! Do you think he would have enjoyed Parc de la Villette better??? Your life is so much more interesting than mine!

# posted by Anonymous : 8:25 PM  

I've always meant to do that boat ride, but maybe I'll go during the week with a friend and let the kids skip it....

# posted by Lisa : 10:02 PM  

Again - the boat trip one of those things that was on the "to do" list but now a "have to" !

I only made it to Canal St Martin once and it was cold and rainy and cold looking models were looking utterly miserable in the middle of a fashion shoot.

# posted by L'Oiseau : 9:22 AM  

ok, auntie M, you got me feeling guilty and awfully ashamed because though i've lived in Paris for more than 5 years now (before that i lived 15min away in the 94 suburb) i've never been at Canal St Martin. ARRRGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you, thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me to discover all the beauties that this city possess. NEVER STOP WRITING!!!

# posted by irene : 10:22 AM  

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Thanks for sharing it with us. Have you got much rain today?

# posted by Anji : 3:11 PM  

Ah, my old neighborhood. Though I didn't know you could take a ride on the canal. I'll have to do that next trip up.

# posted by Louise : 10:06 PM  

Auntie, that is a great triup, and I love the way you tell it, i mean.. that s not all to do the trip :-)

# posted by negrito : 10:50 PM  

RD, A bike ride along the canal sounds like a great way to pass the day. Too bad it's so far from our apartment.
CMAC, I love Target and Home Depot. Maybe the kids would have had a better time at those places!
Lisa, I'd been meaning to go on the canal ride for a long time. Without kids, I imagine it would be a very calm and relaxing ride.
L'Oiseau, Yes, that boat ride on a rainy day would lose all of its charm.
Irene, I really did very little for my first three years here. We know we aren't staying here forever, so I figure that I might as well see as much as I can while I'm able to.
Anji, Just a bit of rain here yesterday. Hopefully today will be sunny again.
Louise, Your daughter might be bored with a 2 1/2 boat ride where the main attraction is watching water overflow.. my daughter brought crayons and paper... that helped.
Negrito, Thank you for the kind comment. I always enjoy hearing from you.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 7:35 AM  

Quai de Jemmaps?

I think that you'll find that is the MK2 cinema. I remember having coffee there once.

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