Boat trip on the Canal de l’Ourcq

Boat trip on the Canal de l’Ourcq

Why not rent an electric boat in Paris and cruise the canals without a license? We tell you about our very pleasant experience in this article.


We often wonder what it’s possible to do in Paris, in the middle of August and in the blazing heat! A good number of Parisians have left the capital, so there are far fewer people around, and it’s always a great opportunity to discover this pretty city we love so much in a different way.

In fact, we have a number of items for you to choose from in Paris:


Trying out renting a boat without a license to discover the Canal de l’Ourcq was on our short list, and we’d like to share our experience with you below.



In 1802, Napoleon 1st ordered the creation of the Paris river system to supply the capital with drinking water, grain and wood. The Canal de l’Ourcq, with its limited water supply from the Ourcq river and its tributaries, was only completed in 1821 by Napoleon III and Prefect d’Haussmann, who decided to draw the necessary water from the Marne using two pumping stations. Today, these 3 canals – the Canal de l’Ourcq, the Canal Saint Martin and the Canal Saint Denis – cross 5 départements and together represent almost 130km of navigable waterways.

The Canal de l’Ourcq now supplies the city of Paris with non-potable water. This is used to water green spaces, clean the city’s public roads and supply water to the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes lakes.




The company Freshwater sailor on the Bassin de la Villette, a fleet of small electric and licence-free boats for an unforgettable and unusual stroll through the heart of Paris. We’ve been wanting to try them for a while, but we’re rarely in Paris in July and August. This year being a little special, it’s a chance to rediscover our town and get away for a while before going on vacation.

How does it work? you can rent boats for 4 to 11 people, for varying lengths of time and itineraries. For my part, we were in the company of 5 friends. We booked a 7-person boat for 3 hours, for greater comfort and space. Over the course of a morning, we enjoyed a cool ride along the Canal de l’Ourcq, had breakfast on board and took turns piloting the boat.

The reception staff are very charming and quite young. Before you can maneuver these little boats, you’ll first need to listen briefly to the safety instructions and regulations given to you on the dock. Don’t worry, it’s not very long or complicated. Anyone over 18 can maneuver without any special knowledge, as the boats are extremely playful and easy to pilot. Not very fast, only 20km/h, you’ll enjoy the scenery and over 40km of waterways between the Bassin de la Villette, the Canal Saint Martin and the Canal de l’Ourcq.

The bridge opens at 15 and 45 of each hour and you’ll have to obey the traffic lights, or risk a fine! Departure times are not fixed, and the company adapts to your needs.

It’s also possible to get on and off the boat for a walk or to take photos, for example. There are authorized areas on the quays for mooring and picnicking at Parc de la Villette and Parc de la Bergerie. In any case, you’ll be provided with a small map to help you find your way around.

These boats are pleasant to rent for various occasions:

  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Sunset aperitif
  • A romantic stroll along the canals of Paris
  • Birthdays
  • Bachelorette party
  • Marriage proposal

The space at the bow of the boat is very convivial, organized around the removable table, making it easy to place your drinks and aperitif boards. It’s handy enough if you’re planning a picnic, but not necessarily useful for a simple stroll. It’s up to you!



Reservations can be made every day of the week from 9:30am to 10pm. Remember to book in advance when the weather is fine, as these boats are in great demand.

The meeting point is at:

Bassin de la Villette
37 quai de la Seine
75019 Paris



I think we’re happy here!



In August, to escape the heatwave, we opted for the a 3-hour round trip, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., covering a distance of 24 km (return). This is one of the most popular itineraries for travellers. It allows you to cover a fairly long distance, i.e. at least as far as the old customs house, and then return in comfort. In short, we’ve passed:

  • The Crimean Lift Bridge, the last all-metal lift bridge in Paris, weighing 85 tonnes



  • The Geode: it’s a gigantic ball-shaped cinema with 360° vision attached to the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie.



  • The great mills of Pantin: between 1884 and 2003, this was a flour mill. Since 2010, they have been converted into offices for BNP Paribas.


  • The Centre National dance


  • Former customs house and buildings in Pantin which will become the new trendy district of Paris, the Brooklyn of New York apparently. It’s a great place to admire the street art along the Canal de l’Ourcq, and some very talented street artists have left their mark on this constantly evolving building.



  • The Rotonde Ledoux: To round off the walk, we headed for the pretty Rotonde Ledoux, a monument built just before the French Revolution.

If you choose a morning stroll on a Sunday morning, you’ll notice that Paris is slowly waking up, and the atmosphere is quite peaceful. Sunday joggers run along the Canal, families come to enjoy the deckchairs at Paris plage, and it’s not yet too hot.




Contrary to what you might think, it’s not that expensive to rent a boat on the Canal de l’Ourcq without a license and without a motor. It’s a ride to suit all budgets and profiles: families, couples or friends.

The price depends of course on the size of the boat you choose and the extras you can add:

  • a screw-in picnic table (10€)
  • the aperitif basket
  • ice cream
  • cold drinks



Reservations can be made every day of the week from 9:30am to 10pm. Remember to book in advance when the weather is fine, as these boats are in great demand.

The meeting point is at:

Bassin de la Villette
37 quai de la Seine
75019 Paris

➡️ Click here to save time, check availability and book your boat


A deposit of €500 will be required at the ticket office, in the form of a check or credit card, and the driver is not allowed to drink alcohol. (frequent police checks).

In case of bad weather or windy conditions, the company can also lend you plaids if it’s not very warm.





Si vous souhaitez plus d’intimité, que vous êtes en famille ou entre amis et que vous souhaitez privatiser un bateau sur la Seine avec ou sans skipper, vous aurez l’embarras du choix en cliquant ici sur cette plateforme: bateaux à moteurs, voiliers, yachts, bateaux sans permis, avec ou sans skipper, c’est vous qui voyez. N’oubliez pas de réserver assez longtemps à l’avance car tout est plein en été et sur la haute saison et vous aurez beaucoup de mal à trouver votre bonheur.


➡️  Vérifier les disponibilités des différents bateaux et réserver maintenant


💰  Cliquez sur ce lien pour utiliser mon CODE PROMO SAMBOAT et bénéficier de – 30€ sur votre réservation

(sans minimum d’achat et réservations illimitées)





We really enjoyed the experience. Renting an electric boat without a license means discovering the authentic Paris of Parisians. The experience is unique, and we recommend it with your eyes closed! Have you experienced this type of boat before?


Before you leave, don’t forget to check out our various articles on Paris:





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