If you step away from the grinding traffic of the main boulevards and flurry of commuters at Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, the 10th arrondissement is a charmer. Its meandering Canal St-Martin, a 19th-century waterway bordered by swaying chestnut and plane trees and overhung by iron footbridges, has become a magnet for picnickers, café-goers, retro-shoppers, and sun-seekers. You might even see a fisherman dangling a line.
Mariners can take to the water on one of the cruise boats that chart the locks and tunnels up to the Bassin de la Villette, while film buffs can scout the spot where Amélie Poulain skipped stones in the quirky 2001 French film, Amélie.
Drift along Quai de Valmy for sustenance – a glass of wine with olive tapenade and taramasalata at supremely laid-back Chez Prune, or snap up a piece of colorful kitsch from Antoine & Lili. Follow Quai Jemmapes to Rue de la Grange aux Belles and on to the Hôpital St-Louis, which ranks with the buildings on Place des Vosges as one of the city’s best examples of brick and stone architecture.
Nearby Place Ste-Marthe boasts atmospheric streets lined with time-worn facades and a chirpy ethnic vibe. Africa meets Paris on Rue du Château d’Eau, a strip of beauty shops and barbers touting braids, wigs, dyes, creams, and all manner of Afro- Carib body magic, while at Passage Brady and Rue Cail, Indian and Pakistani restaurants and spice shops rule. Cool off at the Musée de l’Eventail, which showcases 800 fans, some centuries old, made by the Houguet family, France’s only remaining fan manufacturer.
Antoine & Lili 95 Quai de Valmy;
Chez Prune 71 Quai de Valmy;
Hôpital St-Louis 1 Ave Claude Vellefaux;
Musée de l’Eventail 2 Boulevard de Strasbourg;