World In Paris
Best day trips from Paris

Biking along Canal de l’Ourcq

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.

biking canal ourcq paris

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!

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 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.

biking canal ourcq paris

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.

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 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

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.

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

biking canal ourcq paris

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.

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 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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52 Comments

  • Reply
    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.

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

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

  • Reply
    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!

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

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

  • Reply
    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.

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

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

  • Reply
    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.

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

      Emily, Vélib system has also bikes for kids already 😉

  • Reply
    Karla at GlobalETA
    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.

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

      Glad that you enjoyed it, Karla 🙂

  • Reply
    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.

    • Reply
      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 🙂

  • Reply
    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!

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

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

  • Reply
    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!

  • Reply
    Hra
    01/28/2017 at 12:31 pm

    Riding along the canal just seems so romantic. I love biking in these places, great guide… I love your blog 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      02/20/2017 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment, Hra! 🙂

  • Reply
    Tay
    12/27/2016 at 5:15 pm

    I love biking around town! It sounds like you had the perfect autumn day! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jerny
    12/10/2016 at 1:12 am

    I too would love to stroll around and bike around the area. I can see why autumn is your favorite. Perfect colours everywhere! Bike experience is a must, at least, by reading your article, I had known that there are bike rentals on the area as well.

  • Reply
    neha
    12/08/2016 at 6:13 am

    Such a beautiful biking trail. Absolutely love the green tall trees in the background. I would love to cycle here.

  • Reply
    Marge
    12/08/2016 at 1:09 am

    This is the one thing that we don’t have here in the Philippines, bike paths. It would be lovely if we’d all just use bicycles instead of cars that’s been causing a traffic in the city. Anyway, I’d love to do a canal ourcq biking tour if ever I get there. I love that there is so much to see along the way. I totally love this guide.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      12/09/2016 at 9:34 am

      Oh thanks for your kind comment! Do you think more bycicle life is possible in Ph in a near future?

  • Reply
    Nic
    11/20/2016 at 3:41 pm

    Autumn is definitely my favourite season, it just brings out the most wonderful colours and creates amazing sights. It sounds like you had the most amazing day!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/22/2016 at 5:10 pm

      Yes, it was a nice day 🙂

  • Reply
    Mohit Agarwal
    11/03/2016 at 9:33 am

    What an amazing bike ride you had. And for the bridge i would say the bigger version of this is built for the Three gorges dam, china. Bobigny is so amazing with the greenery..

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/03/2016 at 9:53 am

      Lol, I should go to that part of China then only to see the bridge. Thanks for dropping by

  • Reply
    Sheena
    11/03/2016 at 3:13 am

    I think Fall is the most romantic season anywhere, I would love to experience it in Paris sometime. Although I’m not much of a bike rider in cities, it looks like there are some really nice spots in the city, I love the photos 🙂

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/03/2016 at 9:04 am

      Thanks Sheena! Well, this is more countryside than a city ride 🙂

  • Reply
    Castaway with Crystal
    11/02/2016 at 8:05 am

    Biking looks like it would be a really beautiful and intimate way to see Paris. Great post! thank you 🙂

    Crystal recently posted… Budget guide for New Zealand; North Island

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:45 pm

      Biking in the city centre is a little bit crazy but yes, there are still some beautiful and intimate places left

  • Reply
    JP Licudan
    10/31/2016 at 3:00 pm

    I love doing biking trips. Thanks for sharing this nice article.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:44 pm

      You are welcome, JP!

  • Reply
    Jan Michael De Guzman
    10/31/2016 at 2:36 pm

    This bicycle path is full of surprises and awesome destinations along the way. They look really beautiful and the biking experience feels really relaxing. Surely you had a great time.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      10/31/2016 at 3:23 pm

      Indeed! Perfect weather and perfect colors! 🙂

  • Reply
    Linday
    10/31/2016 at 5:47 am

    What a great way to explore! I haven’t been on a bicycle in years, but will definitely consider it on my next trip to Paris. I visited there over a long weekend in May (a few years ago) and we had perfect weather – I can definitely see how it’d be lovely in autumn!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:40 pm

      Hope you will visit Paris again soon and why not in Autumn next time? You have seen it already in spring . . 😉

  • Reply
    Vyjay
    10/31/2016 at 5:19 am

    Biking along the canals in Paris looks and sounds so enchanting. I would love to do this next time I am there. I need to get out into the country and explore the picturesque countryside of Paris.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks. I am sure you would love it, Vyjay 😉

  • Reply
    LISA
    10/30/2016 at 2:47 pm

    Looks just beautiful and a great way to see it all. Thanks for all the tips. These are the activities we liked to do when traveling. Nice photos too!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks Lisa, glad you liked this post 🙂

  • Reply
    Brianna
    10/30/2016 at 2:10 pm

    What a picturesque bike ride! I would have never thought to explore Paris via bicycle. How far away from the city center does the path begin?

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:43 pm

      Brianna, it depends on what we consider as “city centre”. If we take the “point 0” in front of Notre Dame as “city centre” then my starting point was at 6km from the city centre

  • Reply
    Vicki Louise
    10/30/2016 at 12:10 pm

    I loved exploring Paris by bike – but I think I only got to the usual tourist haunts! Thanks for showing me all these other routes and pathways. It’ll be nice to explore the lesser-known side of Paris on my next visit!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:36 pm

      that’s the goal of this website, to make people go beyond the usual tourist haunts 😉

  • Reply
    Nancy
    10/30/2016 at 5:07 am

    This would be the perfect way to experience places outside of Paris. Riding along the canal just seems so romantic. But also sounds like there is so much else to see and you pedal your way along the Canal de l’Ourq

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:35 pm

      Nancy, it is a nice combination of nature and sightseeing. I especially enjoyed the industrial architecture

  • Reply
    Sarah Stierch
    10/30/2016 at 4:28 am

    I loved following you along on your ride! So fun to explore areas on bike often unseen – loved the discovery of graffiti under the tunnels leading to the canal. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:38 pm

      Sarah, thanks to you for dropping by. And yes, the tunnel picture is my favourite, so much color under the dark tunnel!

  • Reply
    Danielle
    10/30/2016 at 1:38 am

    What a lovely guide! Your photos are amazing, makes me want to do this so much!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:37 pm

      So You have another activity to add to your next trip to Paris 😉

  • Reply
    Louiela
    10/29/2016 at 8:29 pm

    Autumn is love… the weather, the colorful foliage plus the activity of cycling around Paris and nearby cities, it seems to be a perfect adventure…

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      11/02/2016 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks for dropping by ! 🙂

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