If there’s one neighborhood in Paris that has been flourishing in the past years, it’s the quartier of the canal Saint-Martin. The purpose of this Napoleon designed waterway, was to deliver drinking water to the French capital and easier transportation of wheat, stone and salt. For a long time nothing much happened alongside the canal (like in: it was an impoverished, neglected part of Paris). But that’s all in the past. Right now the neighborhood is booming, and rightfully so because it’s a lovely part of the city. Looking for hip bars, cute bistros, interesting shops and a streak of alternative culture? This is the place to be. Your kids will love it as well!
At the wildly beautiful bakery Du Pain et des Idées you ‘re in for top quality baguettes, croissants and escargots chocolat pistache. Their baked goodies are so sought after, they can even afford to close down in the weekend. Don’t miss the elaborately decorated ceiling!
Looking over the canal Saint-Martin, Artazart is a renowned bookshop where you can easily spend hours leafing through their many publications. An interesting selection of books and magazines about design, fashion, photography and art.
Bobs juice Bar is the brainchild of Marc Grossman. As ‘an American in Paris’ he treats his clientele to daily cold pressed juices, made from veggies as well as fruits. His Green Juice with parsley and ginger and smoothies of seasonal fruit are delicious, as well as the healthy lunch with salads and Japanese inspired rolls.
Hotel du Nord was named after the 1938 film by Marcel Carné, featuring actress Arletty screaming ‘Atmosphère, atmosphère, est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’ atmosphère?’ on a bridge over the Canal Saint-Martin. The movie was not shot here though, but in a studio outside Paris. The food is unpretentious and simple, with staples such as quiche, tournedos, risotto and cheeseburger. Very easy going.
In Le 104, housed in a former funeral centre from the 19th century, there’s plenty of exciting stuff happening. Always full of life, le Centquatre contains two big halls, galleries for exhibitions, concerthalls, theater, a library, workshops, a restaurant and a café. Now and then they organise festivals and every Saturday morning there’s a biomarket. Kids under 5 can play in La Maison des Petits, a meetingplace imagined by designer Matali Crasset.
Pink Flamingo’s pizzas are delivered by bike, but you can also devour them at one of their four colorful locations. The dough is made from scratch every day, using organic flour, olive oil and sel de Guérande. Perfect for a cosy picknick close to their first joint, where it all began. After ordering the pizza of your choice, you are given a pink balloon. That way the deliveryboy or –girl will recognise you, as you are enjoying the sun along the canal.
Want to stay in the neighborhood? Hotel Le Citizen is a smart, perfectly situated place along the canal, with very helpful staff that will provide you with lots of good tips for the neighborhood. Rooms are small but very well designed and the oustanding breakfast deserves a special mention.