Beginning in Bassin de l’Arsenal by the Seine, the canal travels underground beneath Place de la Bastille, the site of a prison that was stormed during the French Revolution. It subsequently emerges close to the Place de la République before heading north to the Bassin de la Villette. There, it joins with the Canal de l’Ourq and the River Ourcq beyond.
In total, the Canal Saint-Martin covers some three miles of central Paris. Originally funded by a levy on wine, it historically brought trade as well as fresh water to the city. In fact, in its heyday the waterway also carried both building supplies and food to the people of Paris.
Today the canal is more popular as a leisure destination for locals and visitors alike. Paris’ wealthy young bohemians can often be seen congregating on its banks and in pavement cafes. Meanwhile, the picturesque bridges are a magnet for tourists exploring the city.