Canal de l'Ourcq
This is one of the classic canals of France. You can take a boat at the Villette in Paris, at Claire-Souilly, at Lazy-sur-Ourcq or at Meaux, the last 3 in Seine-et-Marne dept 77 east of Paris.
Meaux has a wide canal coming into the river Marne, of the Champagne fame and the two rivers that gives name to the department. You can have a great ride from Paris too passing by Pavillons-sous-Bois, and Aulnay-sous-Bois. Balzac once lived at the first town arriving at S/M dept 77 at Villeparisis.
You arrive at Meaux, passing underneath the bridge pont Saint-Rémy, where you will see the fast boats of the river doing the trip in 3 hours between Meaux and Paris! The city is a knot of the river causeway of the Marne where you have the canals of Cornillon,Chalifert, and l'Ourcq.
You have on the right bank (rive droite) the city and on the left bank (rive gauche) the market covered and not, past the old bridge of the pont vieux or pont de marché. Here there were many windmills all burned in 1920, now you see the tour du Pot-de-chambre. the current market is covered in a metallic structure and you can see the traditions of the Brie region with its famous cheese ,brie de meaux ,and mustard, moutard de meaux; all connected left and right by the passerelle des moulins.
After Meaux the canal trip continues to Crégy then Varreddes deep agricultural lands of great beauty; you reach Lizy,and here by May-en-Multien you see the site of the first great battle of WWI in september 1914. You have some mingling with the Oise and the Aisne rivers starting at la Ferté-Milon, birthplace of Jean Racine. All marvelous trip, taken as my wife is a native of Meaux.
A bit of history
all started by the 16C with Leonard de Vinci, upon the invitation of king François Ier, did tests on levies on the river, and the king encouraged the improvements of the waterways. Under king Louis XIV, the duke of Orléans starts the privilledges and taxes on the navigation of the canal of the dukes in the part of the Ourcq made navigable to the east of Meaux. In the 18C while the city of Paris suffers from lack of potable waters, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte orders a study to supply potable water to Paris.
He ordered the opening of the river Ourcq that will be arranged by the bassin or lake of the ViIlette in 1802. The wars of the empire delays the construction of the canal ,and even private donations is needed to complete the work; it is in 1822 that the first boats first in wood and then in metal coming from la Ferté-Milon arrives at the Villette.
An association in French for the care and maintenance of this wonderful canal
the tourist info sheet of the city of Paris
- Sailing and Boating
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
how to get to Meaux
First by car, the city is at the crossroads of many, A4 Paris/Metz-Nancy has direct link to
A104 (call the Francilienne a road encircling Paris)
A86 (the beltway around Paris)
taking a que from the city of Meaux ,you can have an interactive map of the city to find things and parkings here
the best parking is along the river Marne on pl Henri IV and around facing the river underground at quai victor hugo and cours Raoult
you have two local bus companies, both at the gare routiére by the train station ,one is Transdev
you can take bus 19 to Disneyland , marne la vallee chessin from here and get cheaper accommodations in Meaux lol!!
and the other is CIF with line 704,711,and 777
ride in buses thru the ile de France region, which includes Meaux in SEine et Marne dept 77
Then you have the train , wonderful train station, direct link to Paris Gare de l'Est. You can change in English
This is the site of the French railroad SNCF, that show you the stations in FRance , I have it on the gare de l'est in English
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Bike to Meaux along the Canal de l'Ourq
A very enjoyable way top go to Meaux is to go there biking; it is a bit long, but as the road and tracks follow a canal, there is no hill to climb up, all is flat!
The trip is 45 km long, so if you want to bike you need to be fit and prepared for a ride of 2 to 3 hours (or longer, but you want to visit Meaux?).
I biked to Meaux several times and came back by train and I think it is a good option; you can take the bikes in the train on this line.
I like to bike along the Canal de l’Ourq, enjoy the autumn colours (picture 1), stop here or there and look at the quiet waters of the canal (picture 2), arrive at small villages, wherepeople take their time for living. . . (picture 3).
I love the mornings on the canal (picture 4), and biking early, I arrive Meaux (sometimes I stop before!) before the great mass at the cathedral!
Arrival in Meaux (picture 5) is marked these concrete buildings on the banks of the canal.
Ah! I have a bike in my Parisian part of life, and you, as tourists may need to rent a bike if you want to bike along the canal; of course, Velib’ bikes cannot be used for that trip, and the best is to hire a bike at cyclo pouce, conveniently located at the end of Bassin de la Vilette, beginning of Canal de l’Ourq. I rented for my kids or visitors, for 11 Euros per day very good road bikes; they have other tariff offers for hours, week ends and even weeks or longer time.
« CycloPouce »
38 bis quai de la Marne
(angle rue des Ardennes)
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Train to Meaux
Meaux is 30 to 45 mn distant from Paris Est train station; there is a train about every half hour, so Meaux is very easy to reach from Paris, and in Meaux, the city centre is very close to the train station.
Picture 1 has been taken from the station, and it shows the cathedral and city hall are not far; You see the pink train station of Meaux on picture 3.
Normal fare: 7 Euros
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