I won’t hide that autumn is my favourite season in Paris : the weather is nice (much better than in spring!) and colors are gorgeous. I chose a nice and warm Saturday of October to do one of Parisians’ favourite bike paths, the path along Canal de l’Ourcq. This is a 23 km path following the Ourcq channel, completely flat and totally separated from the car traffic so it is also a nice and safe activity to do with kids. If you don’t have your own bicycle don’t stop reading! There is a rental place at the beginning of the path, close to a metro station. For other rental options and many other biking tips in Paris check our Paris by bike guide.
This ride is divided in four sectors, starting at Stalingrad Square in the XIXth arrondissement and ending up in Parc de Sevran (13km, one way). I wrote how to reach each sector so you can decide to start further or leave the path before, it depends on how much you want to ride.
Are you ready? So let’s go !
STALINGRAD SQUARE- BASSIN DE LA VILLETTE
- M. Stalingrad L2 or Jaures L2, 5, 7B
- Vélib stations #19003 or #19004
- 1.1 Km
Our starting point is Stalingrad square, at the foot of the metro’s viaduct. We are in front of the Bassin de la Villette and one of its locks. Since its construction in the XIXth century, the Parisian channels are used as aqueducts (60% of non-drinking water in Paris) and also as mean of transportation. Thanks to the iconic péniches sailing the Parisian channels, the truck traffic inside the city is much reduced. This lock allows the tourist ships and other vessels to go from Bassin de la Villette to Canal de Saint Martin, which are at different levels. I cannot help waiting for the next ship going up or down through the dock, I always find it very impressive!
We start riding North, along le Bassin de la Villette. Built in 1808, le Bassin de la Villette is a nice 700m x 70m artificial lake where it is possible to practice different water sports.
In summer it is also one of the Paris Plages locations but it is a cool place to go for a nice walk all year round. At the end of Bassin de la Villette a lift bridge separates le Bassin de la Villette from Canal de l’Ourq.
BASSIN DE LA VILLETTE – PARC DE LA VILLETTE
- Crimée L7, Laumière L5 or Ourq L5
- Vélib station #19125
- 1.5 km
If Vélib is not your thing, you will find your last opportunity to get a bike at AICV (38 bis quai de la Marne 75019 Paris). Animation Insertion Culture & Vélo is the first bike-school in the Parisian region, a place where you can also rent and repair bikes.
Now that we are leaving the city and there are fewer pedestrians on our way, we can ride faster! Right before entering Parc de la Villette, Canal Saint-Denis turns on the left.
Built on the site of former abattoirs and designed by the architect Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette is the largest urban cultural park in the capital. Apart from the green spaces which can be enjoyed by foot, bike or boat there are also many cultural attractions, being the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and its iconic Géode the most popular ones. The weather is sunny, with a super blue sky, so we will spend some time taking funny perspectives of la Géode on the way back.
PARC DE LA VILLETTE – PANTIN AND ITS INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE
- Porte de la Villette L7 or Porte de Pantin L5
- Vélib station #19009 or #19017
- 5.5 km
Once we cross Parc de la Villette, we finally leave Paris to enter the city of Pantin. Immediately on the left we can see the huge mills of Pantin. Its location (along the Ourcq channel and close to the railway) was perfect for this kind of industry and in 1920 the company Grands Moulins de Pantin built this high building (8 levels) following the big flour-mills’ architectural standards of the XIXth century. At the height of their activity these mills produced 190,000 tons of flour a year, not bad!. Despite suffering big damages during the WW2 the mills worked until 2001. In 2006 the building was object of a deep renovation and it hosts today some offices.
After some pictures and some more minutes biking we find a temporary mark encouraging us to go straight ahead (48°53’42.6″N 2°24’46.3″E), don’t follow it! Because we want to avoid trucks and dust we turn on the left instead to take the side path, parallel to the railway, and we join the main path again at the bridge (48°53’57.9″N 2°26’30.1″E).
BOBIGNY – PARC DE SEVRAN
- No metro or Vélib station available
- 7.5 km
From here the path marks a steady but fascinating progression from urban to pastoral. Train yards and old, disused factories now splashed with fantastic graffiti art leave place to a sylvan landscape little changed from a century ago. It is time to slow down and enjoy the landscape.
Along the way there are fine picnic spots and a cafe or two for a pick-up coffee. We recommend bringing your own food from Paris because there are no shops around.
Just before entering Parc de Sevran there is a kayak school, where some kids are learning how to sail the channel. Just another way to enjoy Canal de l’Ourcq!
Our ride ends at Parc de Sevran. The nearly 140 Ha of Parc Forestier de la Poudrerie (also called Parc Forestier de Sevran) are laced with solitary paths and dotted with 19th-century buildings connected with the gunpowder factory (poudrerie) once located there. Here we can bike in the forest but it was time for us to go back to Paris. Another option is to stay at the park longer and board a train for Paris with your bikes. You can take RER B, Sevran-Livry station or Vert Galant station.
Hope that you enjoyed this ride with us. And if you ever come to Paris, have this little bike trip in mind!
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