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Marin dEau Douce – A fun Canal Cruise in Paris

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In summer, when the days are longer, and the weather is good, locals from East Paris crowd the city canals for waterside pétanque, drinks along their bar-terraces, or casual picnics dangling their feet over the water. We know this area well, and we like to enjoy it from time to time with our friends.

Cruises through the Canal de la Villette are always popular but for something different, head to Bassin de la Villette and jump on an electric self-drive boat to navigate Paris slowly, with picnic on-board and rosé wine : -)

This is possible thanks to Marin d Eau Douce (=river sailor in English), a young company proposing a fleet of 22 electric self-drive boats for 5, 7, or 11 people. These electric canal boats do not require any boating license, and they are easy to use.

GOOD TO KNOW: In 1802, Napoleon ordered the creation of a river network in Paris to supply the city with drinking water and with wood and cereals. The Paris canals cross five departments and represent nearly 130 km of waterways. The main Parisian canals are Canal de l Ourcq, Canal Saint-Martin, and Canal Saint-Denis.

Paris Canal Cruise by Marin d’Eau Douce

Léa welcomed us at Marin d Eau Douce’s office, located on the Bassin de la Villette. The check-in process was straightforward (more or less like renting a bike), and after 10 minutes, we were already on board. We booked the Scoop, an electric boat for 7 people with a speed of 9 km/h.

It was on the Scoop itself where Léa showed us how to drive the boat and taught us the basic navigation rules through the canals of Paris and main safety measures. Renting a boat without a license in Paris couldn’t be easier, and 5 minutes after leaving the dock, we were navigating Paris in our own way.

Our Itinerary: Bassin de la Villette Canal de l’Ourcq

map courtesy: Marin dEau Douce (c)

Before leaving the dock, we got a brochure with the itinerary and estimated times. Having 2 hours of navigation ahead of us, we were allowed to sail out of the Bassin de la Villette and reach the Canal de l Ourcq up to Centre Nationale de la Danse. On the way, we had to cross a lift bridge and a spinning footbridge, so it was important to keep in mind their opening schedules to avoid wasting time.

After some maneuvers to test our navigation skills, we sailed slowly down the canal to the first bridge. The boat was clean, silent, and very easy to use. It was still Paris Plages time, so the canal banks were full of deck chairs, parasols, and summer activities for kids and adults.

Exploring Canal de l’Ourcq

After leaving the Bassin de la Villette, this Paris canal cruise sails through Canal de l’Ourcq. Canal de l’Ourcq is a pleasant waterway with a cool atmosphere and an interesting industrial heritage. We had already visited this area by bike, but everything looks cooler from the water. The walls and bridges have new street art and, surprise! after our last visit, a canal bridge turned into a disco bridge. Oh, la la . . .

We had to wait a little bit to cross the spinning footbridge, so we started to uncork the rosé wine and prepare our onboard picnic. Every 15 minutes, two men block the people traffic and move the footbridge with the help of a little engine. It was funny to see this a couple of times.

Valérie is the capitain!

After leaving the footbridge behind, we navigated through Parc de la Villette with its Géode and Museum of Science and Industry. We could also see the Great Pantin Flour Mills and the Former Customs House, two buildings with interesting architecture. Unfortunately, before arriving at the Parc Bergère, it was time to turn around and go back to the dock.

Canal Cruise in Paris with Marin d’Eau Douce Final Thoughts

We had a great time! The canal cruise was pleasant, with some funny anecdotes that we prefer to keep for ourselves ; -) Sometimes we wished our boat was faster but maybe this is the speed limit along the Paris canals.

Marin d Eau Douce’s electric boats are a cool and original way to discover a lesser-known area of Paris, away from the hustle and bustle of the Seine River cruises. I loved the sense of freedom at the back of our boat, with the French flag waving in the breeze and my glass of rosé wine. Marin d Eau Douce’s self-drive boats are definitely a great way to visit Paris differently.

Marin d’Eau Douce in Paris Information & Tips

Marin d Eau Douce is located at 37 Quai de la Villette in Paris 19, between the MK2 Quai de Seine cinema and the Passerelle de Moselle. They open every day, from 10 am to 10 pm. You can reach Quai de la Villette by the Paris metro – station Stalingrad (line 5 or line 2), or station Riquet (line 7).

Arrive at the company’s office at least 15 minutes in advance. You need this time to sign the hiring agreement and pay the deposit.

Children are welcome from 6 months of age and life jackets ensure that everyone stays safe.

Best of all, you can check availability & book instantly online on their website.

» Marin d Eau Douce has electric boats for 5, 7, and 11 people. Keep in mind that the smallest boats are slower (5 km/h) and can be a little bit boring. We recommend the Scoop boat, with a speed of 9 km /h.

» You can rent a canal boat for 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, half-day (4 hours) and full-day (6 hours). We recommend a minimum of 3 hours. This is because with one hour you can only turn around the Bassin de la Villette and with 2 hours you will miss the best part of Canal de l Ourcq.

» Book your electric boat 2-3 weeks in advance, especially on weekends or during the summer months.

» On longer trips, you have the option to stop along the way (there are two mooring points) to enjoy the canal’s banks. You can bring your own picnic and drinks or order a beautiful Paris picnic basket full of fresh products. The company proposes other supplements like renting pétanque or molkki games.

» If you want to have a picnic on-board, we recommend booking the removable table to avoid holding your glass all the time. The table is available only for Scoop and Most boats.

» During your canal cruise, have in mind the bridges’ opening schedules to avoid wasting your time. At the end of Bassin de la Villette, the lift bridge opens every hour, at 15 minutes and 45 minutes, while the footbridge at Canal de l Ourcq opens each quarter of an hour.

 Are you ready to be the captain of your own boat and explore Paris in a different way?

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  • Stephanie
    09/12/2017 at 9:56 am

    This is a great summary of my experience with Marin d’Eau Douce! I have lived in Paris for a long time and would not have known about this experience without your blog. Definitely a “Paris off the beaten path” experience if even the locals are just learning about it.

    • WorldInParis
      09/12/2017 at 10:28 pm

      Cool that you learnt something new thanks to us! Fortunately Paris still has places to be explored and we are having lots of fun . . 😉

  • Roxanna
    09/09/2017 at 4:57 am

    Paris looks like such an amazing city, and I have always wanted to go, but when I consider the crowds I have second thoughts. What a cool way to get away from those crowds, and still see some amazing areas! I love the idea of having a picnic enroute too!

    • WorldInParis
      09/10/2017 at 12:18 pm

      Certainly Paris is a city attiring the crowds. But fortunately for locals there are still places like this one to enjoy 😉

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    09/08/2017 at 4:27 am

    This is a great way to soak in the spirit of Paris and see Paris. It sounds so romantic in keeping with the spirit of Paris too. Your tips are also really handy for people looking for a canal experience, especially about being aware of the schedule of the bridges. Something that people who are new to Paris may not even think of.

    • WorldInParis
      09/10/2017 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for reading and your nice comment, Sandy! You should try these boats next time you are in Paris, I am sure you would like it!

  • melody pittman
    09/07/2017 at 2:02 am

    I would love driving myself around through the canals. That sounds like the ultimate way to see them. Love the look of the boat, too. Romantic.

    • WorldInParis
      09/10/2017 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for reading Melody. I am sure you would like to cruise Paris on these boats

  • Valérie
    09/06/2017 at 8:46 pm

    I really had a wonderful experience. It’s really easy to drive the boat.i discover a place in paris i didn’t know in a really unique way. I had a great time.and you can also have a little apero on the boat.

    • WorldInParis
      09/06/2017 at 9:49 pm

      So cool to hear that, Valérie! Looking forward to enjoy Paris off the beaten path with you and the rest of the team! 🙂

  • Corinne
    09/06/2017 at 5:02 pm

    Now, I’m hooked and totally want to do this. How can I get hold of a bridge schedule? thanks,

    • WorldInParis
      09/06/2017 at 6:00 pm

      Corinne, it is written on the post. Anyway, the staff will tell you all the info before the cruise 😉

  • Paige W
    09/05/2017 at 10:03 pm

    I never thought go there being canals in Paris. We did a river cruise, but his looks like an awesome, much more comprehensive trip! Too fun! When I make to to Paris again, I’ll have to give this a go!

    • WorldInParis
      09/06/2017 at 6:24 am

      Thanks for reading Paige! I am sure that you will enjoy the Paris canals a lot 🙂

  • Claudia
    09/05/2017 at 6:21 pm

    Ooh, this looks right up my alley! I’d love to explore Paris on my own little Marin d Eau Douce boat. We’ve previously done the bateaux mouche but your trip looks so much more intimate and fun!

    • WorldInParis
      09/10/2017 at 12:16 pm

      Yes, it is less intimate and we appreciated being far from the crowds

  • Nuria
    09/05/2017 at 8:42 am

    Good idea for this season. We will include this plan for one of the next weekends with the family. Thank you for sharing!

    • WorldInParis
      09/05/2017 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks to you for reading, Nuria! Hope you will have a good time sailing the canals . .

  • Eve Kay
    09/04/2017 at 6:17 pm

    Riding on a small boat to explore Paris sounds like a wonderful idea. Good to escape the crowd, although it probably won’t stay that way much longer after your post 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      09/04/2017 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for reading, Eve. Well, Marin d’Eau Douce would be happy to hear that! 😉

  • Michelle W
    09/04/2017 at 12:57 am

    An electric river boat? Wine? Sounds like the perfect and unique way to explore the city! I love the idea and can only hope it catches on in other cities!

    • WorldInParis
      09/04/2017 at 5:43 pm

      It IS! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Damien McGuigan
    09/03/2017 at 3:41 pm

    Paris is pretty much the only large city that I actually like. I would imagine being on the water is a nice escape from the crowded streets too!

    • WorldInParis
      09/03/2017 at 7:44 pm

      Indeed! 🙂

  • Danijela WorldGlimpses
    09/03/2017 at 3:38 pm

    This sure sounds like something I would do! 😀 I just love waterfronts, I’ve enjoyed les bateaux mouches in Paris as well. And what a good idea to have those electric canal boats for a limited crowd of people! Looks like a perfect afternoon with a glass of rose. 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      09/03/2017 at 7:44 pm

      Actually these little electric boats are only for you, your family or friends. How cool is that? 🙂

  • Kavey Favelle
    09/03/2017 at 7:54 am

    It’s such a great idea to see the city from the water, a different and more peaceful perspective.

    • WorldInParis
      09/03/2017 at 8:32 am

      Yes, everything looks cooler from the water and we liked especially to be far from the crowds 🙂

  • Eric Gamble
    09/03/2017 at 5:51 am

    This sounds like a great adventure to have on a weekend or if you’re on holiday to come in during the week where you can still people watch from the canal but not have to deal with the tourist traffic. I think if I was renting the electric boats I would want to do at least the three hours because that seems like it would be enough time to have a fun picnic, and still see all the cool graffiti art around the Canal de l Ourcq. I know you guys brought a bottle of Rose the boat, but is it legal to drink on a boat there?

    • WorldInParis
      09/03/2017 at 8:34 am

      Eric only the boat driver is NOT ALLOWED to drink alcohol. We were having fun with the rosé and he was having fun driving the boat so it was a win-win for everybody 😉

  • amit
    09/02/2017 at 10:12 pm

    This was such a refreshing post on Paris. Most of the post’s on Paris cover the same places. My brother goes to Paris a lot and has done a few canal trips. I would love to spend the day exploring the city this way, So relaxing 😀

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:31 pm

      Yes, it is a relaxing but also funny way to spend your day in Paris, you should try! 🙂

  • Kate Brissette
    09/02/2017 at 10:05 pm

    I love the idea of slowing making my way through the canals to see Paris in a different way. And the fact that you can bring along a bottle of wine?! Even better! What a lovely idea!

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:30 pm

      YES! You can have the picnic and drinks on-board or stop at the park for a little bit of shade. Marin d’Eau Douce has two mooring points close to the main sights 🙂

  • Tom
    09/02/2017 at 8:36 pm

    I LOVE this! I only visited Paris once in my life years ago and I actually didn’t like the City that much. I think it was mainly because I was still a child and couldn’t appreciate it. Now when I see things like this canal cruise I really want to go back to Paris and give it a second Chance. I love that you can even book a removable table 😀

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:29 pm

      Glad that you liked it! If you ever come to Paris now you know where to go . . 😉

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman
    09/02/2017 at 7:12 pm

    Three hours seems like a good minimum time. So much of historic Paris can be seen from the river without the crowds and bustle. This seems like a perfect way to explore the city.

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:28 pm

      Yes, 3 hours is what we recommend because the trees area and the park are far 😉

  • Jennifer
    09/02/2017 at 5:49 pm

    I wish I had known you could do this when I was in Paris! I don’t know how well I would fare at the wheel, but I’m sure it’s pretty easy. And a lot easier on the feet than walking:)

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:27 pm

      It is suuuuuuuuuuuper easy. I can tell you because I was driving the boat myself for a while! 🙂

  • Wandering Wheatleys
    09/02/2017 at 4:12 pm

    Wow, this looks like the perfect way to see Paris! (especially with a few bottles of Rose on board! We have rented boats all over the world – from Canada to Croatia, and it is always so lovely to have you own transportation on the water. This activity is definitely on the list next time we’re in the City of Love. Thanks for writing!

    • WorldInParis
      09/02/2017 at 10:26 pm

      You are welcome! These are small electrical boats but it is a really cool way to explore Paris 🙂