One Afternoon's Sight-Seeing
In my previous travels through Paris I had often seen canals and wondered what they were all about. In fact, I saw one seemingly disappear under a busy intersection and never come back out. With only 1 afternoon of free time this trip I thought I would investigate this disappearing canal-thing.
I began with a Metro ride to the 'Republique' station where I saw the canal disappear before. I watched a boat coming at me, going through the locks, and --incredibly until I saw it, disappear under the street! Watch this, one step at a time. First the lock is closed on this side and filled to match the water level in the canal to the rear where the boat is:
Then when it is full, the boat comes in and the door closes behing it, and the water is let out until it matches the lower water level in front of it.
Then the gate in front opens and the boat goes through, with only inches to spare on either side:
So, now I know the canal continues (else this is the Twilight Zone). So I cross the street and walk toward the Bastille, and see the canal occasionally if I look through a grating (air and light hole for the canal below).
These holes are set in a very long and narrow park where neighborhood life goes on:
This park goes on for miles and miles it seemed to my tired feet. Finally I realized I was not keeping up with the boat I was following, and took a Metro to the end. The canal has finally come out of its tunnel here:
And when I looked into the bridge under which the canal met the river, lo and behold, I saw the boat I was following just as it got done with another lock and was ready to exit the canal and make its way down the Seine river:
That was the end of the story until I looked on a map and saw that the canal actually makes a wide semi-circle leaving the Seine near the Musee D'Orsay and comes back out here. Three canals make up this Seine bypass wanted and financed by the nation under Napoleon so he could bring water to the northern part of the city and allow it to expand, and also so that he wouldn't have to look at these ugly commercial barges from his palace windows but they could go around!
I did not have time to do it all, but took the Metro to Stalingrad where a larger canal met this smaller Saint Martin's canal. Then I walked back to where I had begun, but that requires another page.
Go to next Paris Canals page
Go to Life in 2005 Page