It’s taken some time for the increasing coolness of the Canal Saint-Martin to drift up to Paris’ second canal, le Canal de l’Ourcq. More laid back and local than its southern sister, you won’t find trendy boutiques up on the Canal de l’Ourcq.
Instead, over the course of the last decade a number of great bars and restaurants have popped up along this alternative water body. Its outpost of Paris Plages has also drawn additional numbers in summer months.
It’s simply a great place to stroll with fewer crowds than the Seine or the Canal Saint-Martin. Here’s where you can take in this Canal’s relaxed charm:
You could almost spend the whole day and night at this multi-faceted establishment. Presiding over the beginning of the Canal de l’Ourcq on la Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, the inside of this historic building has been taken over by La Trattoria by Gustu, an attractive contemporary restaurant specializing in Corsican gastronomy.
Founder Christophe Poligani has sourced the best local ingredients and producers from his native Île de Beauté, which feature exquisite small plates, fresh pastas, and indulgent pizzas. The atrium of the building is home to a stylish bar serving Corsican-inspired drinks and classics cocktails.
The bar spills outside onto the large terrace where you can get a few select pizzas for only ten euros, other snacks from its street food-style stands, and more cool beverages. Every other weekend the venue transforms into a mini-club pumping electro music till late.
6-8 Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, 75019.
On the east side of la Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad is this chill bar and restaurant. Its huge terrace is particularly popular at apéro hour when it’s full of local sunseekers. They also host regular events from special cocktail nights to dancing on Sundays.
10 Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, 75019.
One of the early indicators that the Canal de l’Ourcq was becoming cool was the arrival of these twin MK2 cinemas. Located in former warehouses designed by Eiffel for the 1878 World’s Fair, the Quai de Seine cinema has a large terrace overlooking the canal and Italian restaurant Corso. The Quai de Loire branch hosts BIIIM!, a high quality fast-food venue whipping up elevated burgers and organic juices, and a hip concept shop. You can add some fun by taking the little ferry-boat across the canal between the two cinemas.
MK2 Quai de Seine – 14 Quai de la Seine, 75019.
MK2 Quai de Loire – 7 Quai de la Loire, 75019.
For a creative taste of modern Japan, stop in at this vibrant bistro at the beginning of the canal. Exposed brick walls and colorful fish kites create a fun and inviting space. Their menu is packed with hot and cold Japanese tapas, original bo buns, rolls, as well as more traditional sashimi and sushi.
14 Quai de la Loire, 75019.
A former shipping barge built in 1942, the Antipode has been adding a touch of eclectic culture to the Canal de l’Ourcq since 2002. The boat hosts a varied calendar of concerts, children’s theater, film screenings, and other events, but you can simply stop by its terrace café for a drink or a meal prepared with socially responsible ingredients too.
Facing 27 Quai de l’Oise, 75019.
You don’t have to wait until the summertime Paris Plage activities to hit the canal’s waters; you can float around the Bassin de la Villette all year round aboard the self-drive boats of the Marin d’Eau Douce. No license is required, all you need to do is gather up a group of friends and some snacks (alcohol is technically prohibited), designate a captain (hats and other boating accessories supplied), and off you go!
Bassin de la Villette, 37 Quai de la Seine, 75019.
Midway down the Bassin de la Villette, this relaxed bar-restaurant has a nice retro décor and spacious terrace. Their tapas and long tables make it a good place to meet up with a group of friends, and you can extend your evening over a dinner of creative modern dishes (including several vegetarian options).
44 bis Quai de la Loire, 75019.
A little further down the canal is this bar du quartier boasting a hint of contemporary cool. Surrounded by local 19ème residents, you can sip on a cheap pint while playing pétanque or groove to electro beats provided by guest DJs on certain Friday and Saturday nights.
68 Quai de la Loire, 75019.
Further up the canal is this whimsical café within a former lock-keeper’s home.
And a home it still is—in spirit and décor. The interior is reminiscent of a house and customers can choose to sit in the funky living room, the vintage-outfitted kitchen, the romantic bedroom, or the highly coveted old fashioned bathtub.
Pavillon des Canaux also fosters a friendly coworking environment during the day and have a casual menu of home-cooked dishes.
39 Quai de la Loire, 75019.
After the growing popularity of its first location in the 18th arrondissement, this friendly biergarten-style German bar has set up shop facing the canal.
In addition to the best German beers, they serve authentic currywurst sausage, späzle, bretzels, and other specialties from Deutschland. You can enjoy these seated at their sociable picnic tables or get them to-go and sit by the water’s edge.
90 Quai de la Loire, 75019.
Sample a Paris-native brew at this local craft brewery. One of the nicknames of Paris, Paname’s taps pour a collection of the brewery’s five standard beers as well as some seasonal creations.
Its kitchen serves up sharable international street food and pizzas, adding to the friendly ambiance both inside and on its lively terrace that jets out onto the canal.
41 bis Quai de la Loire, 75019.
Found on the quieter stretch of the canal, you can combine excellent pizzas and organic wine at this friendly bar-restaurant. It also has one of the best terraces around for watching the sunset, so come early to stake out a spot.
16 Quai de la Marne, 75019.
The high end of the canal, and technically on the branch that becomes the Canal Saint-Denis, this relaxed venue waterside venue in the Parc de la Villette is worth a detour. It boasts a massive terrace as well as a restaurant, club, and events like a pétanque tournament in the summer.
Parc de La Villette, Folie L2, 26 Avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019.
- Keep walking down to explore Canal Saint-Martin.
- Check out the best terraces in Paris for an apéro.
- We tell you where to find craft beer in Paris.
Written by Lily Heise for HiP Paris. All photographs by Ali Postma. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.