People used to visit Paris crave for a new hot spot, a place to enthusiastically tell to friends like something special and just for insiders. Canal de Saint Martin is one of these places. It is the new hot spot of the last years. It is hidden enough to be neglected by most of the tourists that take Paris every day, and seems authentic enough to be admired in its Parisian freshness. Amelie Poulain, the movie, has a beautiful scene that was taken there, increasing its cult inclination. Canal de Saint Martin is not far from the most famous attractions of this awe-inspiring city. You can reach there walking (okay, perhaps a little bit more than usual), by metro (Place de La République) or by the water itself. There is a tour that departs from the Seine River, in front of Musée D’Orsay, going to the Canal and its impressive locks. The promenade close to the Canal is beautiful and charming, and the bridges over it are truly lovely. The problem is that Canal de Saint Martin has been sold as a trendy and lively neighborhood, something like Greenwich Village in NY, and it is far from that. There are some trendy (and expensive) shops, like APC (Rue de Marseille, where the most of shops are), and the colorful Antoine et Lili (in the Quai de Valmy itself; there is another one close to Saint Honoré that seems more convenient for me), and also the famous bakery Du Pain et Des Idées (the name is delicious!). The last was empty, seeming to be closed when we visited the area in a Saturday morning. Chez Prune, considered the best restaurant in the area, is just a charmless bistrot. The rest of the neighborhood is unattractive, dirty, and full of homeless people. Canal de Saint Martin needs to be visited and has a great potential, but currently is not a place to be enthusiastically recommended.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.