The bassin de la Villette

The bassin used to be just a disused canal basi, frequented by ducks, drug addicts and the occasional daring jogger.

Now its historic raisable bridge is newly renovated, its industrial buildings have been spruced up, and it’s one of Paris’s hippest meeting places :

1/ Antipode , face au 55 quai de la Seine, 785019 Paris

This is one of three big barges moored in a line along the western bank, all offering similar fare – drinks and light meals on deck, a show down below. They’re great places to sit and watch the evening promenaders, an there are concerts and cabaret, including shows for kids, at 5-7 Euro a ticket.

2/ MK2 Cinemas, 14 quai de la Seine & 7 quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

This twin neon-lit cinemas, one either side of the canal, were pioneers, opening in 1996 when the “quartier” was more like something out of Scorsese than Truffaut. The glass-and-iron buildings programme a healthy mix of arthouse movies and blockbusgters, and if the film you want to see is on the other bvank, just hop on the little shuttle boat.

3/ Bar Ourcq, 68 quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris

This cafe is the cool de la cool on the canalside, its turquoise facade a beacon for bobos young and old. It offers free bar snacks and also lends pétanque sets to anyone willing to risk getting their toes squelched by flying cannonballs.

4/ La Rotonde, 6-8 place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, 75019 Paris

This 18th century former tollhouse for canal traffic was abandoned for years. It has finally been renovated and now houses a hip but affordable restaurant and bar with chic brasserie foor indoors and a huge terrace on the square. In summertime it’s great to have drink there on sunday afternoons.

(out of the Metropolitan Nov 2012, written by Stephen Clarke)

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