A waterside stroll, a game of boules on the Seine quays, coffee on a terrace, a walk through Parc de La Villette: the area around the Canal de l’Ourcq offers many outdoor pleasures. Art, natural beauty and little-known sights are to be found in northeastern Paris, in the 19th and 20th arrondissements.
Eastern Paris is alive with creative energy. The Canal de l’Ourcq has been turned into an open-air museum with an art event called De l’Art à l’Ourcq, on until 31 December 2015. Some 30 artists have created their own art on street furniture on the banks of the canal, along the 10-km stretch from Stalingrad to Aulnay-sous-Bois. Then there’s the talked-about art venue Centquatre, based in what used to be the municipal funeral parlour – but the free contemporary art exhibitions it hosts these days are revitalizing!
Further south, in the 20th arrondisement, Belleville is also popular with artists, and the quarter is home to many art galleries. There’s the Galerie Lacroix, which specializes in street art, but also up-and-coming gallery 22,48 m², as well as names that will ring a bell with contemporary art lovers: Balice Hertling and Samy Abraham, for example.
The biggest green space in the French capital, Parc de La Villette is popular with picnickers, joggers and cyclists, but it also has an event-packed programme all year round at its various cultural attractions. These include the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a huge science museum, and the Géode, the only IMAX cinema in Paris (la Géode closes its doors for two years from November 30, 2018, for renovation work). Music lovers will find much to love at Parc de la Villette, which has music venues to suit all tastes, from the recently opened Philharmonie de Paris to the Cabaret Sauvage, the Trabendo and the Zénith.
Cafés and bars
Cafés line either bank of the Canal de l’Ourcq, and the choice is up to you: a betting shop-and-bar atmosphere at Bastringue, a relaxed, boules-playing crowd at BarOurcq, a cosmopolitan vibe at Belushi’s Canal in the St Christopher’s Inn youth hostel, a typically Parisian ambience at the MK2 Café on Quai de Seine and Quai de Loire and a countryside feel at the Pavillon des Canaux.
The Canal de l’Ourcq has a food market of a special kind: the Marché sur l’eau. Products are brought here by river, travelling from producers in the Meaux region straight to your shopping basket. Little wonder the market is popular with Paris locavores. It is held from Tuesday to Saturday on Place de la Rotonde (metro: Stalingrad). Come and stock up on fruit and veg grown within a 100-km radius of Paris. Fine food enthusiasts in the area go shopping at Au Temps gourmet, an all-organic deli and wine cellar stocking a handpicked selection of products.
If you get to the canal on the overhead metro line 2, you can’t miss La Rotonde. Now transformed into a bar and restaurant, this historic building on Place Stalingrad has become a popular meeting spot for Parisians in the space of a few short months, for an evening’s partying or just to have a drink. If you prefer small, cozy spaces, the Café Caché at the Centquatre (metro station Riquet, behind the canal) is for you: it serves inventive dishes in a convivial indoor garden setting. The other dining option at the Centquatre is the Grand Central, located in an industrial loft. It serves brasserie food to be washed down with a good selection of craft beers, most of them served on draught.