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Best side trips from Paris

Biking along Canal de l’Ourcq

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I won’t hide that autumn is my favorite season in Paris: the weather is nice (much better than in spring!), there are fewer tourists and more locals in Paris and colors are gorgeous. I chose a nice and warm Saturday of October to do one of Parisians’ favorite 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.

READ MORE –  Best Day Trips from Paris

biking canal ourcq paris

This ride is divided into four sectors, starting at Stalingrad Square in the 19th Arrondissement of Paris 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!

Watch the best day trips from Paris in 2019!


  • 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 decided by Napoleon I, 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!

biking canal ourcq paris

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.

biking canal ourcq paris

In summer it is also one of the Paris Plages locations but it is a cool place to go all year round for a nice walk or a cruise with Marin d’Eau Douce’s self-guided boats, this is super fun! At the end of Bassin de la Villette, a lift bridge separates le Bassin de la Villette from Canal de l’Ourq.

biking canal ourcq paris


  • 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.

biking canal ourcq paris

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 and kid-friendly 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.

biking canal ourcq paris


  • 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 XIX 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 the object of a deep renovation and it hosts today some offices.

biking canal ourcq paris

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, and we join the main path again at the bridge (48°53’57.9″N 2°26’30.1″E).

biking canal ourcq paris


  • 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 street art leave the place to a sylvan landscape little changed from a century ago. It is time to slow down and enjoy the landscape.

READ MORE –  Street Art in Paris 13

biking canal ourcq paris

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.

biking canal ourcq paris

biking canal ourcq paris

biking canal ourcq paris

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!

biking canal ourcq paris

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 in 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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Paris by bike. What about a nice ride along one of the Parisian channels? Come and follow us along Canal de l'Ourcq with this DIY bike tour.


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Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links. It costs you nothing more (in fact, if anything, you’ll get a nice discount) but helps us to go on creating incredible Paris content for you. We trust all products promoted here and would never recommend a product that isn’t of value.
World in Paris is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no expense to you.

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  • Christina
    02/06/2017 at 4:59 am

    What a great way to experience the environs of Paris. It is such a family friendly activity too. I like how the bike rentals are close to the metro. There really is no excuse not to explore the canal by bike.

    • WorldInParis
      02/10/2017 at 10:29 pm

      Yes, this is a perfect day-trip to do with kids in Paris

  • Bethanny
    01/31/2017 at 6:48 am

    This seems like a really nice way to explore! I am more of a spring person though hehe 🙂
    Nevertheless, I loved your pictures, looks like you had a great time!

    • WorldInParis
      02/25/2017 at 8:06 pm

      Berthanny, of course Ourcq also looks great in spring time! 🙂

  • Venkat Ganesh
    01/30/2017 at 5:59 pm

    What a lovely ride that you’ve had. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your experience. I wish there were more bike paths in the world. At least in the smaller towns and cities.

    I love autumn. But unfortunately I’m from Bombay, India and we have only 3 seasons here Summer, Monsoons & Not summer ;). Thankfully when I lived in Vietnam I had a chance to experience it.

    • WorldInParis
      01/30/2017 at 10:30 pm

      cool that you enjoyed biking along Paris with me. Thanks 🙂

  • Emily
    01/30/2017 at 3:27 pm

    I can’t wait for my kids to get a bit bigger so we can go on biking trips! Less tiring than walking and better than the metro. What a great little route; looks absolutely perfect in the autumn.

    • WorldInParis
      01/30/2017 at 10:31 pm

      Emily, Vélib system has also bikes for kids already 😉

  • Karla
    01/30/2017 at 2:52 pm

    I can’t imagine a better way to see the sights than on a bike! Especially in the autumn, as that is my favorite season as well. Your photos are lovely and the description of the route so helpful! Pinning for future reference – thanks.

    • WorldInParis
      01/30/2017 at 10:31 pm

      Glad that you enjoyed it, Karla 🙂

  • Lara Dunning
    01/29/2017 at 3:17 am

    I love that you are sharing how to bike around Paris. That is such a fun way to explore a town. And, fall is one of my favorite times of the year so it’s great to learn that that is a perfect time to see Paris.

    • WorldInParis
      02/25/2017 at 8:08 pm

      Well, spring was not very reliable last years in Paris. September, October and first weeks of November are always great instead 🙂

  • Silvia
    01/28/2017 at 11:03 pm

    Hadn’t heard of this path before! Absolutely adore Paris, and after recently discovering just how handy it is to visit from London with the Eurostar, I think I will be giving this a try next time we visit. Thanks for sharing!

    • WorldInParis
      02/25/2017 at 8:10 pm

      You are welcome! Drop me a line next time you come 🙂

  • Laura @ Sometime Traveller
    01/28/2017 at 6:19 pm

    Great post – I am visiting Paris again in May so will keep this in mind!

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