canal st martin paris canal area

Your Off-the-Beaten-Path Guide to Canal St Martin, Paris: A Hidden Gem Full of Vibrant Local Life

Exploring Canal Saint-Martin in Paris unveils a gem hidden in plain sight, a hipster haven tucked away from typical tourist spots in the central 10th arrondissement. The neighborhood offers a unique, local vibe with its tranquil canal, overlooked parks, diverse dining options, cultural centers, trendy shops, and offbeat activities. My comprehensive guide reveals the essence of this vibrant Parisian locale.

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One of the best parts of exploring any city—but especially a city as iconic as Paris—is getting to finally go off the beaten path and see what the local areas are like. 

The second I walked into the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood, I knew I had found a total local gem—one of the most hipster, trendy Paris neighborhoods that had been hiding from me on multiple previous visits.

Naturally, I ended up spending a ton of time there as a result!

Located just northeast of the Marais, and north of Bastille, Canal St Martin Paris is one of the best hip Paris neighborhoods. It’s a quaint local area that I think everyone should check out when they visit Paris, especially because it’s so central you won’t even need to go out of your way to see it.

Today, I’ve decided to bring together all the best parts of Canal St. Martin in this handy neighborhood guide!

🥐 If you’re in the middle of planning a trip to Paris, check out the rest of my Paris posts and guides!

canal st martin paris neighborhood buildings

FAQs about Canal Saint-Martin

Is Canal Saint-Martin worth visiting?

Canal Saint-Martin is absolutely worth visiting, especially for those who want to visit Paris and see the off the beaten track neighborhoods. 

Canal Saint Martin is a much more local, trendy, and hipster Paris neighborhoods than many of the other neighborhoods you might find yourself in as a tourist to Paris, which makes it one of the great non touristy things to do in Paris.
Exploring the area allows you to see a side to the city that you may have never had access to otherwise, and makes your time in Paris feel all that much more authentic. 

There are also tons of great restaurants in Canal Saint Martin Paris (which we’ll get to), so that’s an extra bonus for why you’d want to visit Canal Saint-Martin in Paris.

canal st martin paris buildings

What is Canal Saint-Martin known for?

Canal Saint-Martin is known for, well, the canal of course! The calm and pretty canal that defines the neighborhood is a great place to walk along, have a picnic, or just a nice view as you eat a meal on a canal-side terrace.

The area is also well known for some film settings: Amélie, for example, sets some of its whimsical scenes in Canal St Martin Paris. 

Last but not least, Canal Saint-Martin is known for being a hipster and cool, more local part of Paris, making it one of the more unique things to do in Paris.

canal st martin paris corner

Is Canal Saint-Martin a good place to stay?

Yes, Canal Saint Martin Paris is one of the best Paris neighborhoods to stay in. For one thing, it’s relatively close to the train stations, so if you aren’t in Paris for very long you don’t have to spend too much time in transit.

Also, much like Bastille, it’s walkable to the Marais, but way cheaper. 

The area itself is also super desirable, with lots of cute boutiques, bars and restaurants that aren’t nearly as packed with tourists.

It manages to be a nice combination of lively and not-too-overstimulating, due to its local charm. It’s also considered a relatively safe neighborhood because it’s so lively.

canal st martin paris street art

9 Fun Things to Do in Canal St Martin Paris

Canal Saint Martin Paris, unlike some of the more famous neighborhoods in Paris, is not necessarily full of “things to do”, but if you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll know that that’s usually more appealing to me anyway!

I love exploring more off-the-beaten-track areas of a city. For me, that’s how you really get to see the true energy of the place.

Keeping with that spirit, I’ve collected all the best “things to do” in Canal St Martin Paris, but don’t be surprised that they’re very casual and in line with the spirit of the neighborhood.

1. Take A Cruise on Canal St. Martin

canal st martin paris cruise

Many people will do a cruise along the Seine while in Paris, but why not switch it up a bit and do a Seine/Canal Saint-Martin combination cruise.

This is great if you’d prefer to have a less physically demanding activity than a walking tour. It’s also always a nice experience to get to see any city from the water—and Paris is no exception.

Being on a boat is pretty relaxing, and the guide will be able to tell you about all the things you’re passing.

This particular cruise is nice because you get to see Canal Saint-Martin and it goes past most of the major parts of the city via the Seine—best of both worlds!

2. Jardin Villemin

canal st martin paris canal area Jardin Villemin

Jardin Villemin is a park in the Canal Saint-Martin area that’s totally overlooked by tourists, but incredibly beloved by locals.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I love walking through, or even sitting and enjoying, parks while traveling. I think it’s a great way to do something free, and usually not very touristy. It’s also a nice way to relax after a long day of walking. 

This particular park is easily located to the rest of the Canal St. Martin area, right on the water.

3. Create the Perfect Picnic

canal st martin paris canal area picnic

If you want to skip a formal lunch, and indulge in a picnic full of yummy French deli snacks, Canal Saint-Martin is a great place to do that.

For me, the perfect French picnic has a few key components: a fancy cheese, a good baguette, some kind of cured meat, a deli item of sorts (olives, perhaps?), and something sweet. Oh, and we can’t forget the wine.

I recommend setting up camp either in the Jardin Villemin, or right along the canal! For the perfect upscale wines and cheeses, I recommend La Crèmerie, and for pastries or bread, just go around the block to Du Pain et des Idées.

If you want to go a bit more casual/budget-friendly, there’s also a Carrefour in the same area.

4. Stroll Quai de Valmy & Quai de Jemmapes to take in the canal

canal st martin paris canal area

If you wanted to get a long walk in, you could walk the length of the canal! The entire canal is nearly 3 miles long, but you can just choose to walk whatever portion of it feels right for you.

This is a great way to see all the different types of neighborhoods that line the canal, and enjoy the calm that the canal brings!

Also, there are tons of shops and cafes that line the canal, so you can always stop and explore all the nice spots you see on your journey.


104 (Centquatre) keith haring exhibit
Keith Haring au Centquatre, Futur en Seine 2013 by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra is licensed under CC 2.0

A bit further out from the more central parts of the canal areas, CENTQUATRE is a unique and exciting community art center in the 19th arrondissement. The enormous multi-purpose space is really a sight to be seen, as it’s home to various art spaces, event spaces, public spaces, and cafes.

The artists that have spaces here are invited to work at the site, so you’ll probably come across artists in the midst of creating their masterpieces! 

The space celebrates all disciplines of art, and is a great activity for any age group. This could be a great option for anyone wanting a more contemporary museum option, but without wanting to commit to a full museum experience.

It’s open every day but Monday.

6. Point Ephémère 

canal st martin paris Point Ephémère bar

In a similar vein to CENTQUATRE, Point Ephémère is another cultural center that allows artists to work on their projects—and it’s a little closer to the center of Canal Saint-Martin, meaning it may be slightly easier to visit. Set in a former art deco material warehouse, the space has an expansive outdoor area just next to the canal.

All kinds of disciplines inhabit the space, and the works of the artists are on display for the public in their exhibition space. 

Not only that, but they also have concerts, events and bars onsite, so you can enjoy more traditional cultural events, if contemporary art isn’t your vibe. The graffiti-covered walls, bare concrete structures and glass roofs give it a serious Berlin vibe, which I’m not mad about at all! Make sure to check out the calendar to see what’s on!

During the summer, the evenings can get a bit crowded, but it can be worth it to enjoy an aperitif and meal on the sunny terrace.

7. Hotel du Nord

canal st martin paris hotel du nord

The Hotel du Nord is another iconic movie location you can visit, this time for fans of the golden age of cinema. 

The film Hotel du Nord is from 1938, and though most of the movie was filmed in a studio, the setting is Canal Saint Martin Paris, and the facade of the actual Hotel du Nord is a fun treat for fans and history lovers alike. 

You can pop in for a meal or just a drink/coffee and enjoy their vintage looking interior, or opt to sit canal side on their lovely terrace.

8. Shopping

canal st martin paris hotel and shopping

One of the things I was most struck by while exploring Canal Saint Martin Paris was how many cute shops I passed! Before visiting this neighborhood I was always told that the main shopping areas were the Marais and Saint-Germain, so after seeing what was hiding in the Canal St Martin Paris area I felt like I’d found a hidden gem!

The colorful facades of Antoine et Lili were the first things to catch my eye, and I definitely spent some time browsing the colorful and whimsical interior.

Centre Commercial is great for ethical and sustainable upscale fashion, and Artazart is a fantastic bookshop with titles mostly in French, but also a good selection of English.

Don’t miss Marché Couvert Saint-Martin, which was rebuilt in the 1800s, and has loads of stalls inside to browse.

And finally, for some vintage and second hand shops, check out Ding 2 Fring, Urban Vintage Paris, Machicadou, and Frivoli!

9. Spend some time with Canal Saint-Martin locals!

canal st martin paris small business

I love taking a walking tour to get to know a city better, and that’s even more true in more off the beaten track neighborhoods where you can often find a passionate local to show you around.

Here are two excellent options in Canal St. Martin that will have you feeling like you just a made a cool new Parisian friend while getting to experience the neighborhood and access a more authentic side to Paris:

This hidden gem food tour of Canal St. Martin with a group called No Diet Club is my kind of food tour! They promise no cheese and croissants—not that you shouldn’t eat cheese and croissants, but this tour is all about eating like the young, hip locals of the neighborhood! You’ll go to all of the cool spots of the neighborhood, and the group just has perfect vibes in their tour description, so I have no doubt it’ll be an excellent time.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive tour of the neighborhood (and to kill two birds with one stone) this “Like a Local” private tour of Canal Saint-Martin and the Latin Quarter is a perfect choice. It’s actually via a company called WithLocals that I’ve used myself a few times. Their whole thing is offering only private tours with guides they’ve vetted as true, born-and-bred locals.

Where to Eat in Canal St. Martin

There are so many great places to eat in Canal Saint Martin Paris that it felt impossible to narrow them down, but I think I did okay!

Below you’ll find some of my favorite places. I’ve been to most of them, some of them I’m desperate to go to, and all of them I stand behind! I gave a little description of why I’d go there, and they’re all linked to Google Maps (one of my ride or die travel resources).

canal st martin paris bakery cafe

For Breakfast

Bob’s Juice Bar – Bagels and cafe food 

Ten Belles – coffee and small bites

Du Pain et des Idées – popular and delicious bakery

Holybelly – American style breakfast

canal st martin paris crepe

For Lunch

Tigermilk – upscale trendy Mexican 

Café Odilon – light food and drinks on the canal

Breizh Café – best crepe of my life! 

Café A – mediterranean foods and sprawling terrace

Street Bangkok – lunch and dinner, casual thai

El Nopal – casual tacos 

can st martin paris restaurant

For Dinner

Le Comptoir General – very trendy cool + globally inspired menu (also brunch on weekends)

Chez Adel – French/Syrian, live music 

Simonetta – canalside Italian food 

Soré – casual and delicious African cuisine 

For Anytime

Chez Prune – one of the most popular cafes in the neighborhood 

Hotel du Nord – upscale French

Bar Ourcq – bar with casual dishes, canal terrace

canal st martin cocktail bars

For Everything Else

Paname Brewing Company – microbrewery

Le Troquet des Glaces – bar, light food, (evening only)

Le Cinquante -vintage inspired neighborhood bar 

Gravity bar – stylish cocktail bar

L’ Agence Bar – wine bar 

Where to Stay in Canal Saint-Martin

As I’ve already mentioned, Canal Saint-Martin is an ideal place to base yourself during your visit to Paris because it is super central.

Not only is the 10th arrondissement the location of Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, but this neighborhood is also very much walkable to The Marais and to Bastille, two of my other favorite neighborhoods in Paris. Even better, the hotels you’ll find in Canal St. Martin are significantly cheaper than those in The Marais, while being just a cute and cozy!

🛏️ Check out my full list of the best boutique Paris hotels in other neighborhoods! 🛏️

Hôtel Amoi, Paris hotel in Canal St. Martin

Hôtel Amoi Paris

€ | 4 Star | Locally Sourced | Excellent Amenities

You won’t find any traditional Parisian charm at Hôtel Amoi Paris, but honestly—that’s totally ok! Everything here is Parisian to the core, from one-of-a-kind furnishings from local designers to locally sourced toiletries and nibbles. Not to mention the modern funky vibes are on point and, oh, did I mention the sauna and hammam, both free for guests?!


Hotel Taylor, Boutique Paris Hotel in Canal St. Martin

Hôtel Taylor

€ | 3 Star | Elevated Functional | Quiet & Cozy

Definitely one of the more basic options on this list, Hôtel Taylor is still nothing to scoff at. Not only will you find some adorable design touches, but recent guests rave about the short walk to République, the delicious €6 breakfast, and lots of strategically placed USB ports—none of which are to be taken for granted!


La Planque Hotel in Paris Canal St. Martin

La Planque Hôtel

| 3 Star | Funky Design | Welcoming Vibe

If you’re looking for a quiet little retreat from the bustling city, La Planque Hôtel is for you. Just steps from a metro station and the Canal St. Martin itself, this tiny boutique hotel has cozy rooms, a cozy breakfast area, and a cozy terrace—basically, endless spaces to chill out! Rooms on the top floor have views, and recent guests rave about the kind, helpful and patient staff.


Renaissance Paris Republique, 5 star Paris hotel in Canal St. Martin

Renaissance Paris République

€€ | 5 Star | Marriott Partner | Spa

Ok, so the Renaissance Paris République may not exactly be a boutique Paris hotel. But it certainly feels like one! I can’t lie—there is always something comforting about the “boutique” arm of a larger hotel chain. You get the design and the attention of a true boutique hotel with all the “extras” of the big players, like a fitness center and rewards redemptions. Plus, this hotel is literally steps from République metro station and the fun of Canal St. Martin.


Are you ready to explore Canal Saint-Martin yet?

I hope this post has made you super inspired and excited to visit Canal Saint-Martin, Paris!! 

If you have any questions, comments, or think I might have missed something, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email! 

And if you’re still planning, be sure to check out all my other posts about Paris so you can have the best trip ever.

You can also always find me on Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and my newsletter.

Happy traveling!

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