On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
These photos are from a day we spent wandering in the northeastern part of Paris, around the 19th Arrondisement. There is, it turns out, a canal there. We walked a good chunk of it, taking in the sights and the sun, ending at a park called La Villette.
Okay, so I’m starting with a railing. But it’s a nice railing. There are a lot of nice railings in Paris.
A modern fountain near where we started walking along the canal.
Not only is it a canal, but it actually has locks. Pretty small locks by canal standards, but locks nevertheless.
There were lots of nice bridges for pedestrians; not so many for cars. I’d say it reminded me of Venice, but this was a couple of years before we went there.
And, yes, there were boats on the canal. We didn’t see anything that looked like a commercial boat; just personal craft like this one.
There were a couple of little parks along the way on the side of the canal, which naturally attracted people who wanted to sit out in the sun.
Lots of people hanging out on the sides of the canal, too.
Here we are in La Villette. It’s a park today, but it’s near the old border of Paris and this building, designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, was a customs house, part of the system for collecting taxes on goods brought into Paris. It dates from 1788, not too long before the French Revolution.
It was a lovely time to be in the park with lots of flowers in bloom, and lots of people enjoying the day.
Some more flowers to end.
Wonderful photos! Thank you. I am not sure, but I think there may still be commercial barges that use the canal. And it is a lovely part of Paris.
Thanks for sharing terrific shots of a usually overlooked corner of Paris!
Thinking of maybe doing a Christmas time visit to Europe. Maybe Paris but also Spain primarily.
Anyone here ever visit Europe that time of year? Seems like it might be an interesting time to take in some of the cultural sites without all the crowds. Also see the Christmas markets and such.
I took a boat tour of that canal a few years ago. I enjoyed it! The best part was the tunnel section nearer the Seine, when the fairly sizeable craft goes hundreds of meters in an underground river. I kind of wished that the tour had an option to do the trip one way, however (you were allowed to get off at the far end but then fend for yourself to get back towards Paris).
I wouldn’t rate it a must-do, but if you’re nuts about boats — I, for example, just spend two hours on a Geneva Lake tourboat this exact afternoon :) — it can be a nice diversion during a longer visit to the City of Lights.
We’ve been in Paris and London in January. We actually usually go that time of year because it works best in my wife’s schedule.
It’s a lot cheaper to go than other times of the year, for both airfare and hotels, and the cities are less crowded (although, honestly, it’s less noticeable in London for some reason). All the museums are open, of course, and in Paris all of the markets pretty much operate year round.
But both cities can be cold and rainy, and it gets dark pretty early, particularly in London. If that bothers you, then it’s not a great time of year.
Almost forgot: January is when the big sales are. Christmas would be fun for other reasons, of course.
@Kent: I went to Stockholm around the 1st of December one year. I loved it, but I also have some cousins who came into the City to walk the markets with me. It got dark very early, but was bustling and cheery and lots of twinkling holiday lights.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good.
I’ve only been to Spain once, and it was early October. Because of where they are in the sprawling continental time zone, at least the short days would favor the afternoons. Madrid was hot enough in Oct that I ended up using the a/c in my hotel room!
Thanks guys. didn’t mean to divert the thread. The pics are beautiful. But my impression is that spring and summer brings the hordes to Europe and I’m not really into cattle car tourism of any kind, whether Disney World or Paris.
We live in the Portland metro and spent a decade living in Alaska so cold, damp, and dark winters are what we mostly know. It seems like December might be an interesting time to visit as the pre-Christmas season is usually festive everywhere with all the lights. And it should probably be easier to see the sights and get lodging and such.
Spain is on the agenda because my wife is Chilean but of Galatian, Basque, and Catalan ancestry and we are both fluent in Spanish. Well…I’m mostly fluent but it is her first language. So we do need to visit Spain. But we are probably looking at lots of travel as we are getting closer to retirement age and getting the kids out of the house and through college.
@Kent: Christmas is about our favorite time of year to visit cities. It’s a bit off season, but then there are lots of events for the locals that you can slide into — for example, we had a nighttime organ Christmas Eve concert at Notre Dame. When we left, they opened the entire massive front doors, not just the people sized ones. Plus all the Xmas markets and the stores are decked out. Day itself can be quiet, but we usually bought local ornaments to decorate the hotel or rented room, and then we could bring the best home for very evocative souvenirs.
@Kent: I heartily recommend Paris in late November/December. Sure, the days are short and the weather is iffy-to-crappy, but you say you’re prepared for that. The food is great as always, plus it’s game season, and the cultural stuff – concerts, special exhibits, theater – is in full swing. By early December, the holiday street lighting and shop window decorations are going up and they’re wonderful, which helps cut the winter gloom. Hanukkah in the Marais is lively (and delicious!). There’s a smallish but nice Strasbourg-style Christmas market in St Germain des Prés. The big department store decorations are wildly over the top – fun to see even if you’re not interested in shopping. Best of all, it’s far less crowded than in the spring and summer, so you can actually enjoy all of those things without enormous lines, advance reservations, and a steaming, impatient crowd of fellow humans everywhere. For example, we walked right in to the Orangerie to see the Monet water lilies and were almost the only group there.
La Vilette is an underappreciated gem, far from most of the tourists. I loved the giant sculpture of the bicycle on its side almost completely buried in the ground. Was quite an Aha! moment when I finally realized what that was. Once took a roundabout walk from La Vilette to Parc de Becy, which was a lovely way to see the city. It’s striking how the remake of Paris found just about the perfect height for a dense but not overbearing city landscape (about 5 stories). Oh, I miss traveling. Thank you for the pictures!
Mr Madeleine and I were in Paris for a music conference in mid-October 2003 so far from recent, but . . . The weather throughout our stay of almost a week was lovely and moderate. We stayed in a small, relatively inexpensive hotel near the Pompidou Centre that made everything that we had time to see within walking distance. Museums and other sites were not overcrowded and it was delightful just to walk the neighborhoods.
I love canals in cities. Thanks for sharing these Parisian ones.