The third excursion we took with our toddler in Paris was to the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood. I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about the area, and wanted to check it out…
The canal itself is charming and worth a look. I climbed over one of the pedestrian bridges (who doesn’t dream of being Amélie — skipping stones in her secret spot, am I right?!) We watched a barge full of tourists navigate one of the canal locks, and while it was entertaining to watch the process for a few minutes, I definitely do NOT recommend actually taking one of those “cruises”. (It looked so slow and tedious!) Given more time, I would have loved to simply stroll along the banks for a while.
Du Pain et des Idées, oh my. This is no ordinary boulangerie. They specialize in bread, viennoiseries (pastries with flaky crusts like crioissants), and tarts. Everything is made fresh and with the best ingredients. I’m embarrassed to say how many things we tried, but our favorites were the pain au chocolate banane and the tarte aux pommes. But seriously, everything is crazy delicious. (The best food we had in Paris, hands down.) You can’t go wrong. We met up with my friend Rubi and were lucky to snag the lone table, but you could also walk a couple of blocks down to the canal to sit and enjoy your treats there.
Sadly, La Piñata was closed when we walked by, but I peeked in the windows and put it on my list for next time. So fun!
Antoine et Lili is an injection of sunshine among the grey, muted tones of Paris. Even the storefronts themselves are brightly painted and easy to spot along the banks of the canal. (There are three separate shops in a row — women’s clothing, childrens’, and home decor.)
Artazart is a fantastic art and design bookshop just a couple of blocks down from Antoine et Lili (also right on the canal.) I’ll be honest, I did feel a little intimidated by the snooty staff, but I’m sure most of their attitude was because we tried to push Ingrid with her stroller through the narrow aisles. (Normally we would have taken turns staying outside with her, but it had started to rain.) Next time I’m in Paris, I’d love to spend a little more time and pick out a hard to find book for my collection.
Right in between Antoine et Lili and Artazart, on the banks of the canal, is a little playground at the Square des Récollets. That’s one thing I really loved about Paris on this trip. There are playgrounds and parks like this scattered throughout the city. We never had to go out of our way to find a place where Ingrid could run around and get her energy out.
- Closest metro stops: Gare de l’Est and Jacques Bonsergent
- Stroller: Pretty easy to use, except inside the boutiques. (If possible, I’d recommend taking turns with the toddler at the playground while the other person checks out the nearby boutiques.)
- Timing: Most of the boutiques in the area don’t open until 11AM, so keep that in mind. All of these boutiques, the bakery, the playground, and the canal are within a few blocks of each other, so you can easily visit all of them in an hour or two.
- Food: As I mentioned, we LOVED Du Pain et des Idées. But if you’re looking for something a bit more healthful, I’ve heard that Petit Usagi (right across the canal) has delicious bento box lunches, and you can get them to go if you’d like to eat alongside the canal.
Have you travelled with young children? I’d love to hear your favorite excursions and other travel tips! – Eva