Sticking with the theme of making the most of the east Paris, we chose to go Canal Saint Martin. It’s a shame that this area is on the other side of the city to us because it’s so great, especially in summer, as it’s so open, people are sitting on the banks with beers, or tight roping in-between trees or playing bowls or chess. It immediately makes you feel chilled and happy it’s the weekend.
At first we walked in the opposite direction to Bessing de la Vitlette which is separated from Canal Saint Martin by a large road and a metro line. We walked around Bassin de la Vilette, surprisingly not finding anywhere at all apart from 3 bars, one belonged to a hotel and we couldn’t go in, one was closed and the other had waiters who definitely wanted to chill as much as we did and so we carried on walking around the calm and sun-bathed Bassin, down to the proper Canal Saint Martin. Just after Loums’ old skateboarding spots we came to the pastel-coloured buildings, parks and a humungous range of cafés, bars and restos. More and more people lined the banks, were sat on the steps of bridges crossing the canal, popping open wine or cracking open a beer, playing their guitars, spending time with their family, I love it when you see that a love of a place becomes something which a huge amount of people have in common.
Being in the predicament of not being able to decide where to go, and the places we chose were absolutely rammed, most especially an Irish pub called the ‘Cork and Cavern’ which was recommended to us, I was a bit gutted about that, but we just kept weaving around, because the sun was shining and the weekend had begun. After walking past some graffiti in the making (so rare that you get to see graffiti being painted so when you do, you can’t help but stop and watch the artists working on their section, this one in particular was a painting an imposing pissed off politician), we had a drink at a little bar next to the river which had bathroom in which its wallpaper was of 50s female ‘Pin Up’s’ and advertisements for all things corset-related… The place itself was your typical pleasing French café decorated in terracotta colours with gold-framed mirrors partout and we ordered a nice large glass of white, right before I took my ring off with such force it knocked my glass over, tragic.
We ate a place which looked charming, not too pricey, close to the river, and sadly gave the impression that the food was nicer than it was, providing a huge range of meats and poultry, but by the time we realised that the range of rare meats was all canned by a Delicassten with whom they partnered it was a bit too late, in itself preserves in the form of paté and such things is not a bad thing but when it’s advertised otherwise and that’s what draws you in to the place, it’s not the best. Dangit, never mind, the wine was nice, as was the staff, Loums’ steak was delicious but alas, but my lack of French vocabulary to all things food related came back to bite me when I ordered a dish which I thought would be a spiced chicken dish, but in fact it was a cream-y rice chicken dish which was alright but not great. Alas, we decided not to get dessert as it was still a nice evening and went to walk around the area some more and take in the last of the evening before heading home. We may start reserving places while still giving time to walk around and explore because as nice as the walking around bit is, when you start to get hungry and the restaurants in you like and are in your price range are full to bursting, you can’t help but feel a bit silly for being a bit too spontaneous, damn you capital cities!
On an evening when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, Canal Saint Martin is pretty much the best place to be, I will make every effort to be here a fair bit in the summer.