I’ve been adventurous lately, trying to fill unplanned weekends with explorations of all of Paris’ metro stops. The last time I did this, I landed at a flea market by Oberkampf and this time, I found myself by Canal Saint-Martin, an area teeming with life, art, and open bottles of wine.
Besides the vibrant graffiti that adorns the area around the canal, the businesses around Canal Saint-Martin are all young and exciting. The canal is surrounded by rad hair salons that blast crazy rock music and hipster wifi cafés where young professionals type away. This is not an extremely English-speaking part of Paris, meaning that it’s a non-touristy and therefore guaranteed cool place to go.
You’ll find many cool and young people having apéros (short for apératifs), which are get-togethers in the evening to enjoy wine, cheese, beer, and friends after work. Canal Saint-Martin is brimming with young people in their own respective clusters, each of them enjoying stereotypical French snacks while playing the latest hipster tunes on mini stereos.
I also stumbled upon this amazing art and design store by the canal called Artazart Design Bookstore. I spent an hour at this place, slightly wine-drunk and overwhelmed by the sheer number of amazing books on typography, graffiti, magazine design, interior decorating, body art, and so on. The store was filled with people but it was silent; everyone was immersed in a book.
Take a day to walk around this trendy neighborhood and you’ll learn so much about Parisian culture. You can understand the sentiments of young Parisians by the “manifestos” pasted onto old warehouses and the rampant political graffiti. You can gain foresight into upcoming fashion trends by watching the chic girls who walk by. You can check out one of my favorite cafés on the canal, Point Éphémère, and peruse the secondhand bookshop, art gallery, or enjoy a reasonably-priced beer. And you can actually become a part of the young Parisian culture here by bringing along a bottle of wine for a rendez-vous with friends.