There are few neighborhoods that are nicer for strolling than the area around the Canal Saint-Martin. On warm evenings, the waterway that runs through this neighborhood provides the backdrop for a great number of picnics and impromptu acoustic concerts. There’s plenty to enjoy here that doesn’t require sitting on the ground or listening to another rendition of “No Woman No Cry.” Here are our favorites.
Best for Breakfast or Afternoon Coffee
Sausage rolls at Ten Belles
Ten Belles – Just steps from the canal, this tiny café is serving beautiful coffee drinks. It’s sometimes cramped and a little uncomfortable, but the scones, healthy sandwiches and devilish sausage rolls make up for that. Open every day.
Butternut squash soup at Holybelly
Holybelly – Pancakes, poached eggs and hearty seasonal fare served alongside excellent coffee sourced from Belleville Brûlerie in a sunny space. An international array of coffee preparations (flat whites, espressos, long blacks, cappuccinos, and very good “real deal” filtered coffee) are available. The exceptionally friendly service is notable. Closed Tuesday & Wednesday.
Café Craft – Good coffee with a designated co-working space for the laptop laden. Strong wireless signal and plenty of plugs make it ideal for freelancers to camp out. Open every day.
Best for Lunch
Sandwich at Bob’s Juice Bar
Bob’s Juice Bar – Bob’s is the place to detox (and a vegetarian’s best bet in the hood) with fresh juices, veggie sandwiches on homemade bagels, soups and salads. Open every day.
La Taverne de Zhao
La Taverne de Zhao – Cheap and cheerful cooking from the Shaanxi province, courtesy of Zhao, who hails from Xi’an. Get the pork-filled flatbread and don’t worry about the number of people waiting outside – the line moves fast. Open every day.
Fish, chips and mushy peas at The Sunken Chip
The Sunken Chip – Michael Greenwold of Roseval and James Whelan of L’Inconnu have teamed up to open a dedicated fish and chips shop. Hake, pollock or catch of the day are available alongside thick chips and mushy peas. There are a few communal tables available, but we prefer ordering to go and enjoying our fish along the water. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
Vegetarian Bibimbap at Jules et Shim
Jules et Shim – It’s not the best or most authentic bibimbap, but it’s a fresh & healthy option and makes for good takeout eating along the canal. Open every day.
Best for Cocktails
Le Coq – A bar near République that distinguishes itself by using traditional French liqueurs and ingredients as the base of its menu. Closed Sunday.
Best for Dinner
Philou – Chef Philippe Damas is showcasing the season’s best ingredients at a great value in this tiny bistro. In nice weather, snag a table on the terrasse. Closed Sunday & Monday.
Le Verre Volé
Le Verre Volé – Many will cross town for the tiny kitchen turning out simple dishes and bare bones room lined with shelves of natural wines. Booking is absolutely imperative. Or, grab a bottle of wine to perch along the canal. Picnic pro tip: Forgot your corkscrew? Ask nicely and they’ll open the bottle for you. Open every day.
Hai Kai – One of the trendiest openings of 2013, this canalside joint from chef Amélie Darvas has a fresh product-focused menu that changes daily, a beautiful airy space, and frustratingly slow service. You’ve been warned. Closed Sunday dinner, Monday & Tuesday.
Le Cambodge – Where bobos go for bo bun, and other Vietnamese treats. Go early or be ready to queue. Alternately, visit the tiny annex Le Petit Cambodge to get your bo bun to go. Closed Sunday.
Tacos from El Nopal
El Nopal – A crowd queues at this sliver of a taqueria off the canal for Claudia and Alejandro’s tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Plan on taking it to go. It’s north of the prime spots along the canal, but the extra leg work involved is worth it for legitimately spicy Mexican. Veggie options available, too. Closed Monday.
For Bread & Pastry
Escargots at Du Pain et Des Idées
Du Pains et Des Idées – One of our absolute favorite bakeries in Paris and one of very few bakers still using a woodburning oven, Christophe Vasseur’s breads are destination worthy. Excellent pastries and small stuffed savory breads called mini-pavé are ideal carry out. Closed Saturday & Sunday.
Liberté – We prefer the breakfast pastries and the breads (particularly the dark chocolate bread with white chocolate chips) to the desserts at this brand new & very sleek bakery from Benoît Castel. They have several sandwiches, salads and savory foccacias available at lunch. Closed Monday.
Picnicking along the canal
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