The Canal Saint-Martin connects the River Seaine with the Canal de l’Ourcq in Paris and is just under 5km long. The latter canal, completed in 1825, carried grain and building materials into Paris and was also used to bolster the city’s water supply. The Canal Saint-Martin provides the final link to the Seine and had large commercial basins at each end (Port de l’Arsenal and the Bassin de la Villette). These are now used extensively by pleasure craft.
In the 19th century, as part of Haussman’s rebuilding of Paris, over 2km of the canal was culverted and now runs beneath the centre of large boulevards. Frequent shafts provide periodic natural light. The canal and its bridges, locks and tunnels have provided inspiration for many artists and also appear quite frequently in films and television dramas.
The canal escaped proposals to be infilled in the 1960s and is now a well-frequented popular site for relaxation, exercise and cafes. A number of companies run trip boats through the tunnel. Sub Brit used the long-established Canauxrama in 2004 which is still going strong.