Loving the Locks


“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

(Written on Wednesday, September 17… An extra post.)

No, not THOSE locks, those tacky tokens of love that tourists (vandals?) have hung on the Pont Des Artes and other bridges over the Seine. The so-called “love locks”,  ruining the graceful ironwork and causing structural damage due to their weight, make me cringe.

This afternoon, we went in search of some other locks in Paris, along the Canal St. Martin. We took the Metro to the 10th Arrondissement, and found the canal. We’d read that it was a great place to picnic, so we bought chicken sandwiches and found a bench not far from some locks. The chicken, delicious, the neighborhood, a little seamy.

The waterway was intriguing, so after lunch, we headed south along the canal, and as we walked, the neighborhood improved. At water’s edge is a pretty path under a canopy of trees, and a couple bridges cross from one side to another. We came upon another set of locks, then the canal disappeared underground. Over the hidden canal,  a miles-long park stretched down the middle of Boulevard Richard Lenoir.

What is it about Paris parks? Our walk took us past benches where people sat reading, eating, or sleeping, and couples, even a middle-aged pair, sat smooching. Kids climbed on jungle gyms, and old men played bolle on sandy courts. Concrete ping pong tables hosted matches between teenagers.

We ended up at Place de la Bastille, and there the canal reappeared, passing through Port de l’Arsenal and heading toward the Seine through another set of locks. Down below street level, pleasure boats of all sorts were tethered in this waterway.  We spotted a pretty cafe down below,  just as our feet needed a bit of a rest. A glass of wine at waterside?  Pourqoi pas?

Who knew there were so many private boats in Paris? Not us, for sure. A good find, another good day in the sunshine.

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