Tuesday, March 29, 2011

France - Canal Saint-Martin

Saint-Martin Canal.

sent by lmc, a postcrosser from Paris, France.

This is from Wikipedia : Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.5 km long canal in Paris. It connects the Canal de l'Ourcq to the river Seine.

The entrance of the canal is a double lock near Place de Stalingrad. Then, towards the river Seine, the canal is bordered by the quai de Valmy on one side and the quai de Jemmapes on the other. The canal continues to the Seine via the Port de l'Arsenal.

Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802, in order to create an artificial waterway for supplying Paris with fresh water to support a growing population and to help avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera.

Gaspard de Chabrol, prefect of Paris, proposed to build a canal from the river Ourcq (starting 100 km northeast of Paris). The canal was dug from 1802 to 1825, funded by a new tax on wine. The canal was also used to supply Paris with food (grain), building materials, and other goods, carried on canal boats. Two ports were created in Paris on the canal to unload boats: Port de l'Arsenal and Bassin de la Villette.

By the 1960s, traffic had dwindled to a trickle and the canal narrowly escaped being filled in and paved over for a highway. Today, the canal is covered from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille.

In late December 2006, 350 tents were put on the Canal Saint-Martin by the NGO Les Enfants de Don Quichotte, in support of the "right to lodging" (Droit au logement). The NGO invited well-lodged people to sleep a night in the tent, alongside homeless people. The NGO Médecins du monde (MDM) had taken the initiative, in 2005, to give tents to all homeless people in Paris, in order to provide them with minimal privacy and to make misery visible. But the prefecture of police, under orders of Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, was progressively expelling homeless people camping in Paris. Thus, the Enfants de Don Quichotte's action attracted attention to this expulsion. In the context of the 2007 presidential election, Jacques Chirac announced that the "opposable right to lodging" would be enacted into law before the end of his term.

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