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Canal St. Martin, Paris, France

December 29, 2012 by  

Canal St. Martin, Paris, France, Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.5 km long canal in Paris. It connects the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine and runs underground between Bastille (Paris Métro) and République (Paris Métro). The entrance of the canal is a double lock near Place de Stalingrad. Then, towards the river Seine, the canal is bordered by the quai de Valmy on one side and the quai de Jemmapes on the other. The canal continues to the Seine via the Port de l’Arsenal. The canal widens at Bassin de la Villette, the largest artificial lake in Paris. Along the canal is an unusual hydraulic lifting bridge, the Pont levant de la rue de Crimée.

Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802, in order to create an artificial waterway for supplying Paris with fresh water to support a growing population and to help avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera.

Gaspard de Chabrol, prefect of Paris, proposed to build a canal from the river Ourcq (starting 100 km northeast of Paris). The canal was dug from 1802 to 1825, funded by a new tax on wine. The canal was also used to supply Paris with food (grain), building materials, and other goods, carried on canal boats. Two ports were created in Paris on the canal to unload boats: Port de l’Arsenal and Bassin de la Villette.

By the 1960s, traffic had dwindled to a trickle and the canal narrowly escaped being filled in and paved over for a highway. Today, the canal is covered from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille.

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