If you want to discover a totally different side of Paris in a totally different way or you want to impress your friend(s), then I can totally recommend the boats of “Marin d’eau douce” (the “fresh water seaman”). In the extension of the Canal Saint Martin, you can find the Bassin de la Villette and the Canal de l’Ourcq where their fleet awaits you. Don’t expect a sailboat or a yacht, neither a rowboat or a zodiac. No, I’m talking about some fancy engine-driven wine-red boats for 5, 7 or 11 persons. You don’t need a boat license and it’s really very easy to handle the boat: you switch it on, you use the handle to control the speed and you steer the wheel. Even a child could do it. And, ahoy captain: let’s navigate towards the Canal de l’Ourcq!
As we had hired a boat for a whole afternoon (+-/ 4h), we could easily leave Paris behind us. After having waited before the “Pont de la Crimée”, the last vertical lift bridge of Paris, we navigated alongside the Parc de la Villette: with its 25 hectares, it is the biggest park in Paris, where you can go sunbathing or go for a long walk, where you can enjoy the IMAX experience in the Géode or go totally wild in a scientific way in the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.
We left Paris and we steered through Pantin towards Bobigny. As a boat for 5 persons is less powerful than the bigger ones, it took us 2 hours to cover a distance of 10 km. Even if it seems slow, we totally loved our boat trip: we admired the street art, enjoyed the sun and a glass of wine, we relaxed … At the end of the 10 km, the Parc Bergère appealed us: this green oasis after the street art and industrial landscape enchanted us. Unfortunately we had to return for the way back. But if you have the time (and you’ve a more powerful boat), go for a journey with those boats: I’m convinced that this must be an amazing place to discover.
If you don’t have the time to buy something to eat and drink, you can order an appetizer basket for 7 €, and you can even choose a boat with a table. If you plan to anchor, you can make the stop even more fun with some games (badminton, Molkki or pétanque)! Oh yes: don’t forget to book your boat in advance: they are fully booked in the weekend and it’s very difficult to acquire a boat last minute. So: one address: http://www.marindeaudouce.fr/