During spring, Paris suffers a transformation. After those long winter months, when the city is covered by a grey and humid mantle, the arrival of warm weather causes an explosion. Light in the streets, colour on gardens and balconies, people on terraces and outdoors activities all around Paris. And if there’s a place to enjoy a good spring day, that’s the canal Saint-Martin.
Because the fact that the canal is one of my favourite spots in Paris is not a secret anymore. But it has his post well deserved, and even more when it’s warm. So turn on the music, leave your coat at home and take your sunglasses, because we’re going for a stroll.
These are the SIX REASONS why the canal Saint-Martin is one of the bests spots in the city to enjoy the arrival of spring:
1. Jardin Villemin
If we arrive to the canal from gare de l’Est, we’ll find Jardin Villemin. With all its trees and bushes blooming, hidden corners with a good shadow to take a nap, people lying on the grass to enjoy the sun and, quite often, musicians playing on the arbour. It’s the ideal place for an improvised picnic at lunchtime.
2. Take something cold
If we’re going to start the season of ice creams and milkshakes, we better do it well. My proposals: Stroll down to rue des Vinaigriers and grab an iced coffee or tea in Café Craft or, just opposite on the road, an ice cream in Baci Bisou. Have those while you keep on walking.
Another option are the terraces where you can enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail. Chez Prune has drinks at a reasonable price and enviable views on the canal, and its “ordinary bar” look is a part of its charm. The best proof is that, during this time of the year, its terrace is always crowded.
3. Something sweet
Do you need something sweet to eat with your coffee? Lucky you, because just a little further down Vinaigriers you’ll find Liberté boulangerie, that you’ll recognise because of its massive windows to the street and its white marble deco. But if you’re craving for a classic, then Du Pain et Des Idées is your place (its escargot au pistache is one of its best sellers). On the other side of the canal, if you’re lucky enough to find a table, you’ll be able to enjoy a coffee and one of their delicious cakes at Ten Belles. But if, as usual, it’s full, don’t panic: Just two steps away from it you’ll find the less known DonAntónia, a portuguese bakery that will make your mouth water even from the outside.
4. Picnic by the canal
The biggest classic among the classics. If you’ve been strolling around, you might have found various épiceries and bakeries. So stop hesitating: Go in, buy a couple of good cheeses, some snacks, a bottle of wine and good bread. Sit by the water and enjoy your picnic, just as all those parisians that these days appear around the canal.
5. Eat well
The take-away option from the restaurants of the area is a very good idea for a picnic, but you can always take a table and be served some good food. My favourite will always be Épicerie Musicale (I’ve talked about them a hundred times), but you don’t want to miss either the Korean take-away from Jules et Shim, the revisited croques from Fric-Frac or the vegetarian Mediterranean meals from Ima. Note: Apparently the brand new Nous Valmy is going to be very popular too.
6. Find what you were looking for
In the last few years, many little shops have opened around the canal. Pop-up stores with products from local designers, fashion and jewellery boutiques, bookstores… But if you have to choose, you can’t miss Artazart, named ad one of the best design bookshops in the world and definitely one of my favourites, or La Trésorerie, a beautiful nordic-style deco shop with a café in the inside.