see + do
Concierge.com's insider take:
Long a working-class neighborhood with an edge, the Canal St-Martin is the latest quartier to be reinvented by artists and young bohemians. Built in the early 1800s for industrial transport, the canal is spanned by hump-back bridges and lined with cobbled banks, giant sycamores, and warehouses that are being converted into lofts. There are still some seedy surroundings and homeless encampments, but by day, blue- and white-collar locals plus a sprinkling of tourists add normality to the scene. By night, the hipsters take over. Galleries and boutiques are quirky and marginal. The bars, cafés, and restaurants feel like they've followed you from the similarly hip but older Bastille and Oberkampf areas. Near the canal's southern end, off Quai de Jemmapes and Quai de Valmy, you'll find Café l'Atmosphère (49 Rue Lucien Sampaix; 33-1-40-38-09-21), Le Poisson Rouge (112 Quai de Jemmapes; 33-1-40-40-07-11; www.le-poisson-rouge.com), and l'Hôtel du Nord (102 Quai de Jemmapes; 33-1-40-40-78-78; www.hoteldunord.org)—interchangeable hangouts with outdoor tables and an arty feel. Farther north are casual Le Chaland café (163 Quai de Valmy; 33-1-40-05-18-68), Quai Ouest, a cutting-edge new-music venue (167 Quai de Valmy and 1 Rue Alexandre Parodi; 33-1-40-36-54-30), and the laid back Opus Jazz and Soul Club (167 Quai de Valmy; 33-1-40-34-70-00). Further up, near the dicey Stalingrad Métro station, hopping local hangouts surround the mainstream MK2 cinema-theater-café-restaurant-bookstore complex which sits on both canal banks (14 Quai de la Seine and 7 Quai de Loire; 33-8-92-69-84-84; www.mk2.com).