Time to go with the flow and go upstream in Paris…
Canal Saint-Denis is by far, my favourite spot of this stunning city. Oui, the gorgeous buildings that dot inner Paris may not be present but the splendour of the area is held together by the colourful ribbon of cutesy cafes, grungey street art and public spaces around Canal Saint-Denis.
Take a stroll down Canal Saint-Denis with me as I will highlight places not to skip.
Dance the night away in a circus tent? Yes please! Neatly tucked away into a far corner off the canal is the art scene, wooden dance floor mecca that is Cabaret Sauvage. This mixed space, complete with a glorious circus-shaped cabaret tent has an events programme to make you applaud the Paris social scene even more; dance, theatre, music, concerts, and mini-festivals.
The festivals ain’t you regular festival line up either. I went for a Bastille day themed daytime festival and left with new underwear, specially made at the arts and crafts “Pimpe ta culotte” aka “Pimp Your Panties” tent.
This particular festival was French themed (naturally as it was Bastille Day) so there was a mini Palace of Versallie in the shape of a DJ Van, and a grand blow up pool with a small spray painted gold fountain in the middle, complete with horse. As the French are all over their arts in more ways than one (and bless them for that), there were other colourful attractions at this festival that included a blowing bubble area, pimp my hat and dress ups arena.
Cabaret Sauvage, 59 Boulevard Macdonald, 75019 Paris
Parc de la Villette
La Villette is the place to chill on a nice sunny day and to get a dose of life beyond concrete jungle of Paris. Despite being the third-largest park in Paris, it seems to be the most hip and happening.
Located in the 19th arrondissement, it is also home to one of the largest clustering of cultural spaces in Paris. Famed residents include Europe’s largest science museum Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry), three major concert venues including Philharmonie de Paris, and Conservatoire de Paris. Hard not to miss is the big, shiny mirrored sphere that sits in the middle of the park, The Geode. Inside the dome is a 360 theatre that makes for pretty epic viewing.
You could make a day of it just being in the park grounds itself as there is a lot to do and see around the park that spreads across both sides of the canal, bordering also with Allée du Canal (Alley Canal). With its bright red bridge walkways overlooking the canal, its perfect for a Sunday stroll.
Want to feel like a full-blown Parisian? Grab a shopping trolley and head down to Joinville Market. This small yet bustling open-air corner farmers market is footsteps away from Canal Saint-Denis. Open until 2pm every Thursday and Sunday, this food market sells fresh fruit and vegetables at very un-Parisian prices i.e it is inexpensive. Fresh fish, delicatessens of cheeses, butcher meats can also be found at this market.
The highlight for me? The French are known for their mastery in roasting chickens. The smell of rotisserie chickens will have you wanting to eat up a whole farm of chickens. (Sorry to the vegans and vegetarians reading this right now.) If this all sounds like one big drooling exercise, the juices from the chicken are savoured by the potatoes that sit under the chickens while they cook. This succulent (and inexpensive) market meal is best paired with a freshly cooked baguette for an impromptu picnic along the canal.
Market Place de Joinville, 4 Place de Joinville, 75019 Paris
If you a) are in need of that caffeine hit b) like to participate in a good ol’ session of people watching and c) likes their cafe time to be in a trendy place then L’Atalante is the magic spot for you.
This open-air cafe is perfect, especially on a sunny day, to chill out on its big terrace equipped with its “brown bar” long picnic style tables. Head over for lunchtime on a weekday to get yourself one of Paris’s famous formula two-course lunch deals (usually around €14). It also boasts a range of beers on tap and usually has homebrewed ice tea on offer.
Come night time, L’Atalante transforms itself into a creature of the night with jazz concerts and DJ sets breathing a new life into this neighbourhood cafe until 2am.
L’Atalante, 26 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris
Get to Paris in style onboard the Eurostar from London. To find out more about crossing the English Channel via train, check out this Eurostar review by The Champagne Mile.
Budget – St Christopher’s Inn Canal – Possibly one of the best-located hostels in a city I have ever seen! This budget dorm accommodation is in a stunning location along the canal and a few minutes walk to the Joinville Market. Its bar doesn’t go bad either and usually attracts a crowd both in and outside.
Medium – Holiday Inn Express Canal de la Villette – Right next to the hostel, this Holiday Inn is also in a fine location along Saint-Denis canal and gives you that extra bit of added privacy.
Paris for free – check out blogger Andi on Adventure’s tips to score a housesitting gig in Paris.
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