In the spring and summer, locals flock in droves to the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin to picnic and strum guitars. Cafés and quirky boutiques flank the water and iron footbridges. On Sundays, two streets running parallel to the canal, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists—perfect for renting a bike and seeing the city from a fresh angle.
- The canal inspired painters such as Alfred Sisley.
- The canal is shown in the 1938 film Hôtel du Nord, directed by Marcel Carné.
- The canal appears in the 2001 film Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, in which the title character enjoys skipping stones at the locks of the canal.
- The canal was also the setting in part for Jean Vigo’s film L’Atalante in 1934.
- In Les Malheurs d’Alfred (1972), Pierre Richard and Anny Duperey meet each other at the beginning of the film, thinking of committing suicide in the canal.
- Édith Piaf sings about the canal in the song “Les mômes de la cloche”, written by Vincent Scotto and Decaye, music by Médinger, in 1936